Peter Robinson Interviews Kellyanne Conway
By David Henderson
One of my biggest surprises of the 2016 political season was the election of Donald Trump and, relatedly, his winning in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Now my Hoover colleague Peter Robinson, host of “Uncommon Knowledge,” has interviewed one of the main architects of that victory, Kellyanne Conway, here.
I enjoyed the interview a lot. It’s fascinating to read how she and the other Trump insiders thought about the campaign. I thought she had a particularly good insight about Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 campaign for president. More on that anon.
I do think that Peter went a little too easy on her on some of the substantive issues. I don’t like gotcha interviews, but I do want to see the interviewee tested a little when she says things that cry out for a test, such as on trade and immigration. More on that anon also.
My comments imply no disdain for either Peter or Kellyanne. I’ve known and liked Peter for over two decades and he has interviewed me 3 or 4 times on “Uncommon Knowledge.” I met and enjoyed talking to Kellyanne at the annual Club for Growth event in Palm Beach, Florida in early 2009.
Highlights and Comments:
15:00: “He [Romney] was afraid to talk about it. Romney did not embrace his wealth and his business experience.” She continues about what he could have done. I think she nails it. Her point reminded me of a related point I made about Romney during the 2102 campaign.
23:35: Pennsylvania as her “reach” state.
24:03: Trump was able to elevate trade and illegal immigration as fairness and economic issues. DRH comment: The problem is that the economic lens through which he looked at immigration was “folk economics,” not real economics. I had expected Peter, who was around Milton Friedman at Hoover even more than I was, to push back a little. He didn’t.
26:30: Our jobs have been shipped to Mexico and China. DRH comment: They haven’t.
26:40: Potentially good stuff on Obamacare.
27:00: More on illegal immigration.
28:00: Peter asks where Trump’s views on trade and immigration came from. Peter: “He’s not been reading policy journals for the last decade.” Peter says this as if to say that Trump had ideas that policy journals on these issues would support. But when I saw this, I thought, “Duh, he sure as hell hasn’t been reading policy journals; otherwise he wouldn’t be saying what he’s saying.”
29:20: A poll in 2014 showed that American people look at immigration through an economic lens. What does she mean by that? Her exposition seems at odds with the policy of restricting immigration. Peter doesn’t follow up by asking for clarity.
30:45: Good question by Peter and good discussion of infrastructure spending. The difference between $1 trillion in infrastructure spending and $1 trillion in government spending on infrastructure.
33:20: Kellyanne trumpets, so to speak, the deal on Carrier. This is not something to be proud of. It would be if we could believe her reason: The Carrier and United Technology (Carrier’s parent company) execs made their decision because Donald Trump promised to roll back useless regulations. But the much-more-plausible story, which I detail in a forthcoming article in Reason, is that Carrier did it because, as United Technology’s CEO Greg Hayes put it, “I was born at night, but I wasn’t born last night.” In other words, the threat to the parent company’s approximately $5.6 billion annual income on federal government contracts was at risk.