Campaign watch: Our political culture has ceased to exist!


Anderson Cooper with Trump:
We've been moving in this direction for a good many years. But in the current White House campaign, traditional journalistic culture has totally ceased to exist.

To see what we mean, consider CNN's town hall event last Thursday night. More specifically, consider a long, embarrassing, hapless exchange between Anderson Cooper and Candidate Trump.

Trump, of course, is a consummate clown, the end result of a long, gruesome process. We'll focus on Anderson Cooper.

At one point during his hour with Trump, Cooper called on a South Carolina voter named Todd. Todd wanted to know what Trump planned to do to replace Obamacare.

Todd said he was "a local health insurance agent." He said he wasn't "a big fan of Obamacare." Still and all, he stressed the fact that he wanted specifics from Trump:
QUESTIONER (2/18/16): What is your exact plan, and please be specific, as to what you would do to replace Obamacare?
To watch the whole segment, just click here. Todd's question starts around 16:30.

How would Trump replace Obamacare? The voter wanted to hear his exact plan. He asked Trump to be specific.

Needless to say, Trump instantly wandered off point. Just like that, the candidate was sharing his exact thoughts about refugees from Syria:
TRUMP (continuing directly): OK. Great question. First of all, Obamacare as you know is a disaster. Your rates are going up 25, 35, 45, 55 percent. It's going to fail in '17 anyway unless as usual the Republicans bail them out. We know where the Democrats are coming from, but the Republicans have been so weak.

The budget they passed four weeks ago is a—they call it the omnibus budget. It gives Obama everything he wanted. It gives him money to bring in people from Syria that we have no idea who they are or where they are, et cetera which is a disaster. We can't afford to do that.

It gives money for illegal immigration, for letting people come in illegally into this country. The whole thing is a disaster and the Republicans passed it.

With health care, we have to repeal and replace Obamacare.
To his credit, Cooper piped up at this point, reminding Trump of the question he'd been asked. In response, Trump wandered the countryside again.

Once again, he wandered about, then offered a magic solution:
COOPER (continuing directly): What would you replace it with?

TRUMP: A health care savings accounts, which are great. We would do that. Or we're going to have and probably—and—you can say and/or, what I really like is the—

I'm a self-funder. I'm not taking any money, OK? I'm not taking money from the insurance companies so I can do what's right.

I can do what's right for the people, I can do—and this is something that I think I've been given credit for. I don't think I've been given enough credit, because I have turned down hundreds of millions of dollars. I could take—if Jeb Bush raised $148 million, put it in a fund, it's like throwing it out the window, what he did with it. I would have had 500—I would have had $1 billion—I have people asking me, "please let me give you"—I'm doing it all myself.

What happened is, we have lines around each state. It makes it impossible for people to bid, for insurance companies to bid within those states. The insurance company would have a monopoly—would rather have a monopoly on here, or on New York, or on Iowa, or on any other place, than be able to bid all over the United States, because they make much more money that way. What we do—and the insurance companies take care of the politicians. They're giving the politicians—most of the guys that I'm running against are getting money from insurance companies and they're getting money from—by the way, other companies. Drug companies, pharmaceutical companies.

They give tremendous amounts of money to the people that I'm negotiating against, that I'm debating against, the people that are on the stage, the people that are in Congress, the senators.

So what I'm saying is this. We have to get rid of the lines. We have to create competition. When you do that, you will have the best health care you've ever, ever had. And it'll be at a reasonable cost.

They almost got rid of the lines when they were doing Obamacare but it didn't happen. Because the insurance companies have too many of the senators under control.

COOPER: Let me ask Todd, just to follow-up—

TRUMP: You understand what I mean. There's no competition!
How would Trump replace Obamacare? He mentioned health care savings accounts, which he said are great. Beyond that, he advocated "removing the lines," which he said would "create competition," leading to "the best health care you've ever, ever had."

By now, Trump had spoken for two minutes and 30 seconds in response to the voter's question asking him for specifics. He had said virtually nothing which was responsive to the question he'd been asked.

In all likelihood, very few viewers could really explain what "health care savings accounts" are, or how they would work as replacement for Obamacare. Presumably, almost no one knew what Trump meant by the phrase "removing the lines," given his hurried, rushed, confusing explanation of the topic.

Cooper made no attempt to clarify this part of Trump's statement, or to challenge Trump with the familiar standard objections to "removing the lines."

At this point, Cooper turned to Todd, the person who asked the question. In response to a pitiful question from Cooper, this exchange occurred:
COOPER (continuing directly): Did you get your answer? Is that specific enough for you? Do you—

QUESTIONER: Sounds fair enough. Yes.

TRUMP: Thank you.
To our eye, it looked like Todd was too polite to say that he wasn't satisfied. At any rate, that's what was said.

To his credit, Cooper asked an actual question at this point, although he stammered around. In response, a filibuster occurred:
COOPER (continuing directly): I got one question about it. If Obamacare's, like, repealed, and there's no mandate for everybody to have insurance, what's to— I mean, why would insurance company not have a pre-existing, insure somebody who has a pre-existing condition?

TRUMP: Well, I like the mandate.

OK. So here's where I'm a little bit different. I don't want people dying on the streets, and I say this all the time. And I say this—

Look, I did five speeches, maybe six speeches today. We had a lot of rallies. We had of thousands and thousands of people. We get big crowds. Every time I talk about this, I get standing ovations. The Republican people, they're wonderful people. They don't want people dying on the streets.

Sometimes they'll say, "Donald Trump wants single-payer," because there's a group of people—as good as these plans are, and by the way your insurance will go way down, you'll have better plans, you'll get your own doctor, which Obama lied. Remember this—

COOPER: Will people with pre-existing conditions be able to get insurance?


Obama lied when he said you're going to keep your plan, you're going to keep your doctor, you got to—it was a pure lie. And frankly, many Democrats went along, only because they believed him.

He lied 28 times, he said it. Twenty-eight times. If that were in the private sector you'd be sued for fraud, OK? He lied to get the plan through. He got it through and it's turned out to be a disaster. The wrong people are buying it, you know what's happening. It's dead. It's going to— Look, Obamacare is dead. It's going to be repealed, it's going to be replaced.

But I will say this, Anderson. If we don't do something quickly, you're going to have a health care problem like you've never seen before in this country. Now—

The new plan is good. It's going to be inexpensive. It's going to be much better for the people. But there's going to a group of people at the bottom, people that haven't done well. People that don't have any money that won't be able to be taken care of.

We're going to take care of them through maybe concepts of Medicare. We have hospitals that aren't doing well, we have doctors that aren't doing well. You cannot let people die on the street, OK?

Now, some people would say, "that's not a very Republican thing to say." Every time I say this at a rally, or even today, I said it once, it got a standing ovation.

I said, "You know, the problem is everybody thinks that you people, as Republicans, hate the concept of taking care of people that are really, really sick and are gonna die." That's not single-payer, by the way. That's called "heart." We gotta take care of people that can't take care of themselves.

But the plans will be much less expensive than Obamacare, they'll be far better than Obamacare, you'll get your doctor, you'll get everything that you want to get. It'll be unbelievable. But you've gotta get rid of the lines. You gotta have competition. Those people that are left, we've gotta help them live. And everybody likes it when I say it, and that includes Republicans. And it's not single-payer.
How would Candidate Trump replace Obamacare?

By now, five minutes and 15 seconds had elapsed since Todd finished asking his question, in which he asked for specifics. In reply, Trump had said virtually nothing about what he would do. Meanwhile, Cooper had shown a total inability to moderate a discussion of this extremely basic question.

Trump had rattled some highly inaccurate claims about how poorly Obamacare is working. In answer to what he would do instead, he kept saying he wouldn't let anyone die in the streets, and that his new plan, whatever it is, isn't "single-payer."

He stressed the standing ovations he says he gets when he speaks. He also said that his new plan, whatever it is, "is good," is "going to be inexpensive" and is "going to be much better for the people." He said people's insurance costs would go way down and they would be able to have their own doctor.

Voters will get everything they want to get. It will be unbelievable.

How was he going to keep people from dying in the streets? According to Trump, "We're going to take care of them through maybe concepts of Medicare."

Cooper let this world-class bafflegab pass.

How was Trump going to make costs go way down while improving everyone's plans and requiring companies to insure people with pre-existing conditions? There wasn't the slightest sign that Cooper knew how to ask such questions, or that he was willing to stop Trump from the self-serving digressions with which he lards his reactions to basic questions like this.

It isn't easy to handle a discussion like this, but Cooper didn't show the slightest sign of having any ability, or any will, to engage in the process. Simply put, he's a multimillionaire TV star who was pretending to interviewing a multibillionaire candidate who has taken our culture's rolling decline completely over the top.

Including that voter's futile question, we've looked at roughly six minutes out of Trump's 30-minute session with Cooper. The transcript you see doesn't even resemble a rational discussion.

It isn't easy to be in Cooper's seat, tasked with responding to so much nonsense and evasion. But Cooper, who's paid millions per year, didn't show the slightest sign of knowing how to interrupt the familiar, predictable puddles of piddle the candidate emitted.

You're looking at a complete collapse of the American system. This cosmic journalistic collapse has been underway for decades, of course. Tomorrow, we'll review the accurate things Ruth Marcus has now said.


  1. It's obvious that Cooper is angling for a Cabinet position in the Trump administration.

    1. The cabinet will be filled with rich smart people who don't owe anybody anything. It will be good for us. And they will get things done.

    2. Dream on, 4:42 PM.

    3. The cabinet will be unbelievable. Up to now it has just been stupid people.

    4. People will pay to run the departments Presaident Trump offers to appoint them to head.

  2. Gafflebag PredpudpidFebruary 22, 2016 at 4:47 PM

    Very smart, very clear writers cannot expalin basic laws to Somerby. Yet he expects our blue jean heir to be able to cut through world class "bafflegab." He must do it in a way that makes sense to the millions who have bought into that predictable puddle of piddle without insulting their intelligence.

  3. Some disagree with Bob.

  4. When our intellectual culture collapsed few could see it.

    Naturally since our political culture ceases to exist, nobody will even notice.

  5. Well, when the Pope is so dumb he loses votes for Democrats, what can you expect?

  6. President Shepard
    People don't drink the sand because they are thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference.

    We have long since passed the time where Republicans vote for anything other than motivational posters.

  7. Fucking Douchebag Troll ContingentFebruary 22, 2016 at 6:21 PM

    "It isn't easy to be in Cooper's seat, tasked with responding to so much nonsense and evasion. But Cooper, who's paid millions per year, didn't show the slightest sign of knowing how to interrupt the familiar, predictable puddles of piddle the candidate emitted."

    Utterly true in every particular.

    But we're going to keep on pretending the Bigger Problem By Far is the little blogger who said so.

    1. As "the little blogger who said so" becomes as scattered as Donald Trump in his presentations, his remaining fans become more angry at the readers who say so.

    2. FDTC @ 6:21, the question of the truth of Bob Somerby's statement lies in the phrase "tasked with responding to so much nonsense and efasion."

      Quite frankly no network media personality in a Presidential race has ever performed the role demanded of them by Somerby, which is to confront the candidate and in effect become a major player in the discussion.

      Once is a while a moderator will correct a candidate (Candy Crowley on Romney over Behghazi comes to mind) but it is rare.

      Your man Somerby even attacks media personalities for the totally common and perfunctory courtesy of thanking a candidate for an answer.

    3. ...and on cue, the anonymous trolls, behaving exactly as predicted.

  8. We're not going to have people dying in the streets because Trump will send vans around to collect them and ferry them to a private location, most likely a big field in the country, or an abandoned Superfund site, or a derelict warehouse in the slum part of town, where they will be unloaded. They will die there.

  9. Pre-existing conditions are an insoluble problem under the stupid ObamaCare structure. Force and compulsions are required to make it work. A single payer system, like Canada, or a single provider system, like England, doesn't have this problem.

    From an insurance POV, covering pre-existing conditions is like allowing someone to purchase fire insurance when his house is already on fire. So, insurance companies must be forced to cover pre-existing conditions. Buyers must be forced to buy insurance when they don't want to.

    1. Actually you are incorrect. Even Obamacare has open enrollment times; other times, you cannot enroll unless you have a special circumstance. Purchasing fire insurance when your house is on fire would be like buying health insurance in a non-enrollment period when you just discovered you have liver cancer. Because people must buy health insurance, and they can only buy it at certain times, covering pre-existing conditions becomes doable.

      Your comment that covering pre-existing conditions under Obamacare is "insoluble" is just nonsense. Obamacare DID solve this problem.

      There are still problems with people not being able to afford high premiums, and with companies removing themselves from the exchanges, but those are separate issues. There are solutions to these things too, whether the solutions involve government subsidy or moving to a Medicare-for-all type situation.

    2. From the POV of a lifelong insurance-company shill, any regulation of the insurance industry is stupid and coercive.

    3. Only the healthy should have access to health care on anything other than a cash and carry basis. That's what voting Republican ultimately leads to.

  10. So now BS gives a virtual pass to his fellow white male southerner Joe Scarborough for his primetime infomercial for Trump but beats up on Anderson Cooper instead. Could it have something to do with Cooper being a homosexual? Something he has in common with BS's favorite target Rachael Maddow.

    1. Then there are the unrelenting attacks on Frank Bruni and Michael Barbaro.

    2. It would be nice if we could just dismiss your accusation. His obsession with Maddow, while "O"Reilly gets a pass", makes it tough.

    3. scroll through the site, you will see somerby call out morning joe

    4. Yes you can count the number of time on your hand vs. the almost daily whipping of Maddow.

  11. You have to admit that was very weak "moderating" on Cooper's part. It came across like a bullshit avalanche.

    1. Give an example of strong "moderating."

    2. Well, you don't have to be impressed with Cooper (I sure never have) to see he is sort of between a rock and hard place. He must treat an unserious person seriously.

  12. First we should note, Bob freely speculates that the questioner was unsatisfied and only being polite, his comments do not reflect this.

    Cooper attempts to garner a substantive answer to his question. Trump really has none to give. We should note, yes, Cooper could have been more insistent, which would aggravate Trump, causing him not to return to the show, and perhaps damaging him in the ratings game.

    Can we talk? the point is moot as Trump had no substantive answer to give.

    The BBC and Huffington Post have pieces this week about the awful, racist behavior Trump has demonstrated in the matter of the Central Park Five. A serious review of said would really make it impossible for the Trump campaign to continue.

    But the likes of Bob doesn't want to examine this. Bob doesn't like to throw "R Bombs."

    And of course, the Political Party and the New Organizations that created the now genuinely frightening Trump phenomenon have long since escaped any real critical reckoning from Bob.

    O:Reilly gets a pass.
    Just when Joe and Mika are revealed as utterly evil people,
    Bob backs away.

    As Kevin Drum points out today, Donald Trump is the product of a morally debased conservative culture. The Daivd in Ca's went along with it, and now they can't control it. Fobbing it off on Anderson Cooper is repulsive gaul from The Daily Howler.

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