Michael Tomasky’s blog post headline said it all: Donald Trump’s Sarah Palin moment. The moment was a simple question to Trump from NBC News White House Correspondent Savannah Guthrie on whether there is a right to privacy in the Constitution. An easy query to handle if you know the answer or why it’s being asked. Trump failed the test and entered a new and welcome phase in his faux campaign for president: heightened scrutiny.
Since Trump now says he’s fervently pro-life, it was only natural that Guthrie would ask him about the right-to-privacy underpinning of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision guaranteeing a woman’s right to choose. "I guess there is, I guess there is,” he said. “And why, just out of curiosity, why do you ask that question?”
NBC Nightly News aired a report from Michael Isikoff in which he did the kind of reporting and interview with Trump that the real estate mogul better get used to. Trump was called to account for his business dealings, his numerous bankruptcies, the multiple lawsuits against him and his net worth.
Isikoff reported that Trump’s casinos in Atlantic City filed for bankruptcy protection three times when he was chairman of the board. Trump pushed back. “I was chairman, but I didn’t run the company,” he said. “I had nothing to do with running the company.” That might fly in court — emphasis on might — but it won’t fly in the court of public opinion when voters have to decide to whom to entrust the most important enterprise on the planet.
We’ve seen this part of the presidential story arc before. Someone new and unexpected appears on the national stage and captures the imagination. This person says intriguing things, and folks like his or her moxie. And the media go nuts playing with it, indulging its less serious aspects. But then the media do what the media always do once the initial euphoria wears off. They start taking the prospective candidate seriously. And that person almost always reveals profound gaps in knowledge, wafer-thin skin and a stunning lack of preparation for the kinds of questions asked of someone seeking to be the leader of the free world.
After wowing the nation — and scaring the heck out of Democrats — with her Republican vice presidential nomination speech in 2008, Sarah Palin crumbled under what should have been easy questioning by ABC News’s Charlie Gibson.
“Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine,” Gibson asked. Palin replied, “In what respect, Charlie?” A befuddled Gibson said, “The Bush, well, what do you interpret it to be?” “His world view?” Palin asked before Gibson narrowed down his definition of the Bush Doctrine to be the one espoused by President George W. Bush in September 2002 before the Iraq War.
Pro-life Palin later would be tripped up by CBS News’s Katie Couric on the question of a right to privacy in the Constitution, saying she believed there is such a right.
And then there was Palin’s infamous response to the criticism of her remark that Russia’s proximity to Alaska gave her foreign policy experience.
How Trump would deal with OPEC in a quest to lower gas prices is equally preposterous, as expressed at the top of the interview below with ABC News’s George Stephanopolous.
Trump’s willingness to dance with the birthers and repeat long-disproved conspiracy theories garnered him the attention he wanted. Now, he tops the Republican field in many polls. All based on a lie.
But as the recent spate of interviews shows, the shock and fun of watching Trump say and do anything to get attention is giving way to the kind of attention he neither wants nor likes. Trump is learning very quickly that it’s all fun and games until people take your faux run for president seriously.