Editorials

Isn’t it time we all stopped taking Trump’s ‘no’ for an answer?

The Observer editorial board

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the 11th annual Values Voter Summit on Friday.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the 11th annual Values Voter Summit on Friday. TNS

Say what you will about Hillary Clinton’s charisma deficit or her lawyerly email evasions, but few question if she’ll know what she’s doing if elected president.

The former Secretary of State and senator can talk policy details until your head throbs – or, if you’re Matt Lauer during Wednesday’s commander-in-chief forum, until you admonish her to answer “As briefly as you can.”

No risk of Trump going too deep on details. The star of “The Apprentice” is the master of the crisp, detail-free TV soundbite. His answers often seem little more than word-mush; his backers figure as long as he looks presidential, he is presidential.

Unfortunately, he’s running for president of the United States, not a network TV host job. It is time for journalists – and the public – to demand he show mastery of, not just fleeting acquaintance with, the details of foreign and domestic policy challenges facing this country.

“I’ll tell you later” is an answer we should no longer tolerate.

What’s his plan to defeat ISIS? He’ll tell us later. Is he really going to round up and deport 11 million or so undocumented immigrants who haven’t been convicted of crimes? He’ll tell us later. Shouldn’t we see his tax returns? Later.

True, Trump’s military expansion plan, unveiled last week, contained some specifics on troop and equipment numbers. But on the whole, he and his campaign punt far too often when asked for policy details.

“They’re faking it and they’re doing a good job faking it,” Tim Miller, an advisor to Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, told Politico about the Trump team’s approach to policy.

During an interview Friday, CBS News’ Charlie Rose asked Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway what Trump will do to counter the nuclear arsenal of North Korea. She quickly pivoted into a critique of Clinton and President Obama.

“You’re always talking about the Democrats,” Rose replied. “He wants to be president of the United States. What would he do?”

“He’s not going to reveal all of his plans now,” Conway said. “He’s made that very clear and maybe somebody can ask him in a debate.”

Maybe all us of should follow Rose’s lead and stop taking Trump’s ‘no’ for an answer.

Rose’s co-anchor, Gayle King, followed up by asking a question all of America should be posing to Trump:

“How can voters make an informed decision if he won’t reveal how he intends to do this?”

“The informed decision,” Conway replied, “is we already know what (Clinton) would do.”

That, as she well knows, is dodging the question. His team clearly thinks he can get away with it. He’s the Trojan Horse candidate of this election. We have to wheel him into the Oval Office, apparently, to find out what’s really inside his head.

But imagine if investors pitched Trump on buying a one-of-a-kind new skyscraper. What would he do if they said he couldn’t see certain floors until after he bought it?

We all know what Trump would do. He’d kick those people out and tell them not to come back until they got serious about closing a deal. With less than two months until the election, that’s exactly what we all should be telling Trump.

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