When presidential candidates are asked to explain their positions on key issues with details, but they have no idea what to say, they tend to rely on some go-to nouns. Ask Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) about his foreign policy, for example, and he’ll talk a great deal about “strength.”
What does that mean in practical terms? It means he’ll be “strong.” Which will translate into what kind of policy, exactly? One based on “strengthiness,” obviously.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has a similar habit, but for him the word is “leadership.” Every problem, no matter how daunting, can be addressed with a president who is a leading leader who’s ready to lead through leadership. How inspiring.
But to fully appreciate this dynamic in action, consider what happened on ABC yesterday morning, when George Stephanopoulos asked Donald Trump how he intends to round up and pay for the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants – a number the Republican candidate said might be as high as 30 million.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So if there’s no idea, how are you going to round them all up? Where are you going to get the money, where are you going to get the forces? Exactly how are you going to do it? What are the specifics here?TRUMP: George, it’s called management. And the first thing we have to do is secure the border. But it’s called management.
The host pressed further, prompting the GOP candidate to again say, “It’s management.” The more Stephanopoulos pressed for any kind of policy detail, the more Trump responded, “George, I’m telling you, it’s called management.”
Dismissing his 2016 rivals, the Republican added, “They don’t know management.”
In all, during a fairly brief telephone interview, Trump used the word “management” six times, and in each instance, it was in response to a question about the lack of substantive details in the candidate’s mass-deportation plan.
It was like watching a kid trying to convince a teacher he did his homework, despite the fact that he clearly did not.
Ordinarily, this might seem like a problem for a national candidate hoping to become the leader of the free world, but there’s clearly nothing ordinary about Trump’s campaign. In fact, watching yesterday’s exchange, I was reminded of NBC’s Katy Tur telling Rachel on the show last week that she was covering a Trump event in New Hampshire, “and kind of amazingly, Donald said that he doesn’t think that people really want policy plans. He thinks it’s the press that wants policy plans because the press are the people that keep asking for it.”
It’s a classic post-policy approach – don’t vote for me despite my lack of policy specifics; vote for me because of my lack of policy specifics.