Donald Trump: Low-information candidate

Story highlights

  • Dean Obeidallah: Donald Trump has shown a lack of understanding on a wide range of issues
  • Trump's approach worries those who believe a president should deeply understand issues facing U.S., he says

Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM's weekly program "The Dean Obeidallah Show," a columnist for The Daily Beast and editor of the politics blog The Dean's Report. Follow him on Twitter: @TheDeansreport. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN)"Is Donald Trump screwing with us?" "Maybe he actually wants to lose the GOP nomination?" "Is Trump trying to help the Democrats?"

These are the types of questions people were posting on social media after the Republican presidential front-runner's latest string of gaffes, including his comments last week that he favors punishing women who have abortions. Trump quickly reversed himself on the issue. But the incident simply validates my theory that Trump is neither trying to intentionally lose the primary contest, nor secretly trying to help the Democrats. Instead, Trump is more likely simply a low-information candidate.
    Dean Obeidallah
    What do I mean? Well, we have all heard of low-information voters: people who are poorly informed about the details of political issues. Well, Trump is the presidential candidate version of that. While Trump may understand business and how to make headlines, he's clueless when it comes to issues outside his comfort zone. And worse, he either doesn't seem to realize his limitations, or else doesn't care.
    Since launching his campaign, Trump has shown a lack of understanding on a wide range of military, foreign policy and domestic issues, serving up a trifecta of idiocy.
    Many first noticed this in September, when conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt asked Trump about the major players in the Middle East. Trump was stumped. He even confused the Kurds, the Sunni Muslims in Iraq fighting ISIS, with the Quds Force, Iran's elite military force. But Trump declared in typical Trump fashion that one day he will know these issues so well it will "make your head spin." (I'm still waiting for the spinning of my head.)
    We again saw Trump's cluelessness on display at a December GOP debate, when he was asked which "of the three legs" of our military's nuclear triad are the most important. The three options to pick from are bombers, submarines or ballistic missiles. Trump, however, stunningly responded, "For me, nuclear, the power, the devastation, is very important to me." It would've been better for Trump if he had asked to use a lifeline or phone a friend.
    And the list continues, from minor gaffes to bizarre policy pronouncements. For example, at last month's GOP debate, Trump surprised everyone by announcing he had reversed his position on H1-B visas and was now in favor of allowing additional foreign highly skilled workers to work in America. But right after the debate, he flip-flopped again -- a flippty floppity flip, perhaps. Remember, we are talking immigration here, which is supposedly Trump's top issue, and even then it seems like he is just winging it.
    Trump caused another WTF moment last month when Anderson Cooper asked him what are the "top three functions of the United States government?" Trump responded the first was "security." That's a fine answer. But then Trump added education and health care. When Cooper pressed Trump because these last two issues are more state, not federal concerns, Trump added the federal government should also be "providing great neighborhoods." Does Trump not get that the federal government lacks the constitutional authority to do everything?
    And now we have Trump getting slammed from both the right and the left for his recent jaw-dropping comments on foreign policy, especially that he is open to more of our allies acquiring nuclear weapons so they can protect themselves. Apparently Trump is taking the NRA's good guy with a gun idea to its insane conclusion.
    Trump's stream of consciousness approach may have worked great on "The Apprentice," but it is worrying those who believe a president should deeply understand the issues facing our nation. GOP strategist Tara Setmayer echoed the thoughts of many recently when she described Trump's views on foreign policy as "disastrous" and "unintelligible."
    But the criticism of Trump reached a new level on Friday, when President Barack Obama responded to the businessman's comments about nuclear weapons: "The person who made the statements doesn't know much about foreign policy, or nuclear policy ... or the world generally."
    In typical fashion, Trump responded to Obama and other critics of his nuclear weapons proposal stating, "I know more about it than they do," adding, "I have business judgment."
    What "business judgment" has to do with allowing counties to acquire nuclear weapons is anyone's guess. But it's classic Trump. Instead of doing the homework to learn the details of the issues, he simply attacks his critics.
    Why doesn't Trump put in the time to learn? Maybe he has been surrounded by "yes men" for so long he isn't used to being challenged? Or perhaps Trump is simply too busy waging Twitter fights?
    Who knows? But the bottom line is we're talking the future of our nation, not who will be crowned the winner of "The Apprentice." A clueless Trump as nominee is bad for the Republican Party. But a clueless Trump as president would be a disaster for our nation.