Amy Gets A “Gotcha!”

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.

16 thoughts on “Amy Gets A “Gotcha!”

  1. They have to go after her in order to winniw the field. She’s too moderate. They’ve already picked the candidate they want.

  2. Many years ago I witnessed a similar incident and it was directed at Ray Shamie who was a rags to riches Republican who had the audacity to challenge Ted Kennedy! Shamie was asked the usual innocuous “gotcha” question about a foreign leader and drew a blank, but quickly rebounded by asking the reporter who was on the Board of Directors of the newspaper he was representing? The reporter (no surprise) also drew a blank so Shamie told him who they were.

  3. It is fairly apparent none of those voting guilty on impeachment have any idea what high crimes or misdemeanors means. They do however seem to be picking up on the non-wartime version meaning of treason.

  4. The entire Democrat primary process looks like a media infused version of Franken and Davis’ lampooning of political ads on SNL in the 70s

  5. A much better test would be whether you could name the heads of, say, the Sinaloa or Los Zetas drug cartels, since they seem to wield more power in Mexico than El Presidente…

  6. I figured that a major part of being an executive was leading a team of diverse experts who advise and support you in preparing for different situations, and whom you coordinate with to manage both routine system guidance as well as emergencies. The executive isn’t supposed to know everything all at once because they have people to remember it for them, and to confer with when it comes up. Building up a country is a team research project, not a pop quiz. I want to see that the candidate and their team has the right mindsets and attributes for the job. If they’ve got those, I assume they can find all the information they need on their own. They’re not interviewing for the position of Wikipedia.

    I suppose next reporters will start pulling questions from Google job interviews, or from beauty pageants, but in this case since the reporter was from Telemundo, maybe that question was prompted by a bit of envy that the world stage pays close attention to who’s running the United States, but most other countries consider Mexican politics irrelevant for their purposes.

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