Senator Amy Klobuchar, the suddenly surging Democratic Presidential candidate, stumbled when she was quizzed by reporter Guadalupe Venegas of Telemundo on the name of the president of Mexico.
When asked “Can you tell me his name?” about the leader of the rather important U.S. neighbor to the south, Klobuchar answered “No.”
It is Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known by his initials, AMLO , who took office in December 2018. (I had to look it up.)
This is supposed to be a big deal. It isn’t. Running for President is not “Jeopardy.” These kinds of smug gotcha! questions to candidates are obnoxious. Usually they are reserved for the candidates who journalists are trying to take down, or who they suspect aren’t up to the job….George Bush, Sarah Palin, female candidates. I don’t recall Barack Obama getting quizzed.
In 1999, George W. Bush was embarrassed by a Boston reporter asking in quick succession to name the leaders of Taiwan, India, Pakistan and Chechnya. W got one right. This, of course, proved he was an idiot, like all GOP candidates are.
Trivia hound that I am, I still don’t care whether a Presidential candidate has these names on the tip of his or her tongue. Knowing names doesn’t prove you’re smart or able. Of course, this deficit can be carried to extremes; remember how Libertarian Party Presidential nominee could not name a single world leader under pressure from Chris Matthews? Ironically, Johnson finally was able to name Mexico’s president after some clues. Johnson later argued that ignorance of foreign nations would keep a President from getting the US involved in wars.
The media seems eager to promote Klubuchar’s lapse. ABC news campaign reporter Will Steakin noted that Klobuchar had voted in favor of the United States–Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), but could not name the president. Oh, so what?
Now, what Presidential candidates should know, or they shouldn’t be running, is basic facts about their own nation, its founding documents, its laws, its history. Do they know what the Monroe Doctrine is? The limitations of the Commerce Clause? Why James K. Polk was an important President? The dark side of Woodrow Wilson? What Calvin Coolidge’s major contribution to public policy was? How te Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved? As with the names of foreign leaders, these can be learned. However, I expect, and we should all expect, that a politician knows this country before he or she presumes to lead this country.