Candidate Trump said these things long ago!


Do journalists pay any attention:
Our view? Ever since 1965, the "Goldwater rule" had served our discourse well.

According to the Goldwater rule, you aren't supposed to bring psychiatric analysis into campaign coverage. In normal times, that's a darn good idea.

Sometimes the rule has been honored in the breach. During Campaign 2000, journalists served as amateur shrinks concerning the troubling Candidate Gore. Most strikingly, these amateur shrinks wondered why the candidate kept making ridiculous claims "when the truth would have been just as good."

They invented the ridiculous claims, then psychoanalyzed their alleged perpetrator. Displaying our foremost skill, we liberals stared off into space.

As a general matter, the Goldwater rule has served our discourse well. It did so for fifty years. This year, we'd say it started to fail.

It seemed to us that Candidate Trump's behavior was so strange that it cried out for psychological analysis. Unfortunately, the journalists who invented Gore's lies now tended to avert their eyes from Trump's. In line with that 50-year-old rule, they failed to confront his apparent disturbance. We'll all get to see where it leads.

In our view, Trump's election has extended a long process in which our major systems have been breaking down. Our big newspapers were Trump before Trump. In his own ludicrous conduct, he simply jacked their "fake news" culture up a notch.

Concerning the press, we've had a question since Candidate Trump's big win. Did these people pay any attention to anything Trump ever said?

We had that reaction to Frank Bruni's new column. In our view, he starts with a puzzling claim about Trump's stance on Obamacare, although he's hardly the first:
BRUNI (11/16/16): If Election Day seemed to be a dream (or, rather, nightmare) devoid of logic, the week since has done little to render the world more coherent.

Let’s review:

Donald Trump, exulting in his big win, addressed the question of The Wall. You know, the central pledge of his candidacy, reiterated at every rally. A mighty barrier between the United States and Mexico that only he was potent enough to erect.

And what did he have to say?

That it might be a mere fence in spots.

A fence! Just three days after his victory, he was downscaling, backtracking. At this rate, he’ll be talking at his inauguration about a glorious hedge along the border. By April it’ll be flowering shrubs, with blossoms that spell out “Welcome to America.” And by June? Some sort of new Christo installation, maybe the world’s largest-ever topiary display.

As for Obamacare, it’s apparently not so awful after all. Trump said he liked the part that lets kids stay on their parents’ insurance plans, which is, if you think about it, sort of what Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric have been doing all along. He also liked the part that prevents insurers from disqualifying people for pre-existing conditions.
Regarding The Wall, it sounds to us like Bruni is wishin' and hopin'. It sounds like he's pretending that Trump will turn out to be like all the rest—that he'll backtrack and flip-flop and slip-slide away, and end in the mushy middle.

That wouldn't be our overall bet. That tiny comment about building a fence in spots was a single tiny comment. Does that mean The Wall will turn into a hedge? Maybe Bruni needs a bit of counseling help at this point!

We mention The Wall which may be a hedge to get to the health care matter. Did journalists listen to anything Trump said at any part of this race?

Long ago, Candidate Trump said he wanted to retain the happy-talk parts of Obamacare—for example, the part about pre-existing conditions. He said this in the Republican debate on February 25. He said it in the second debate with Clinton on October 9:
COOPER (10/9/16): You've said you want to end Obamacare. You've also said you want to make coverage accessible for people with pre-existing conditions. How do you force insurance companies to do that if you're no longer mandating that every American get insurance?

TRUMP: We're going to be able to. You're going to have plans—

COOPER: What does that mean?

TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you what it means. You're going to have plans that are so good, because we're going to have so much competition in the insurance industry. Once we break out—once we break out the lines and allow the competition to come—

COOPER: Are you going—are you going to have a mandate that Americans have to have health insurance?

TRUMP: President Obama—Anderson, excuse me. President Obama, by keeping those lines, the boundary lines around each state, it was almost gone until just very toward the end of the passage of Obamacare, which, by the way, was a fraud. You know that, because Jonathan Gruber, the architect of Obamacare, was said—he said it was a great lie, it was a big lie. President Obama said you keep your doctor, you keep your plan. The whole thing was a fraud, and it doesn't work.

But when we get rid of those lines, you will have competition, and we will be able to keep pre-existing, we'll also be able to help people that can't get—don't have money because we are going to have people protected.
That doesn't exactly sound like English. But it isn't new for Trump to say that he wants to retain the provision that prevents insurers from disqualifying people for pre-existing conditions. Despite what people like Bruni keep writing, that isn't new in the past week.

Along the way, he and his savants have also discussed the possibility of letting children stay on their parents’ insurance plans. Here's one such statement quoted in the Huffington Post last May.

Nothing Trump has said about this has ever made any sense, of course. But despite the claim which major journalists have been cutting and pasting this week, these happy-talk statements aren't new.

To our ear and eye, Candidate Trump seemed diagnosable. We'd say that situation still obtains. It's a dangerous state of affairs.

That said, our journalists don't seem enormously far behind him. Their part of the system broke down long ago, long before Trump extended the wreckage last Tuesday night.


  1. I noticed the same fake news about Trump's non-existent changes of heart. I heard him say during the campaign the wall wouldn't even be a fence in some cases but a virtual wall and that those parts of Obamacare would be left alone.

    I heard a few media discussions about whether Trump "now" wants to amend Obamacare rather than repeal and replace it. Our brilliant media doesn't understand that repeal and replace means the same thing as amend in this situation.

    Trump isn't diagnosable. He is a man of advanced age who has had his head in business for decades and hasn't given five minutes of thought to the issues most voters think are the most urgent. He is unique among politicians because he doesn't try to hide his egoism or even his id. He might be convinced to do so as president but he is less likely to make unhinged ideological decisions than some of his predecessors including the immediate.

    1. I think some of Trump's surrogates said the wall might be virtual and wasn't literally going to be a wall. Trump, when asked, doubled down on it being a physical wall. So, I think you are misremembering this.

      75 miles of our border cross an Indian reservation. The tribe has stated unequivocally that they will not permit a wall to be built across their reservation land. Maybe the wall will become imaginary or symbolic at that point.

    2. I'm pretty sure I heard him say "virtual" in an interview, and he also hedged on whether he would deport all illegals. No one who even paid a little attention could have missed the fact that he began with an attention getting statement about a big beautiful wall and then tempered it almost immediately in subsequent interviews. So when the media suggest there is backtracking on these issues they are either lying or extremely low info.

    3. His surrogates said it. Then he was confronted with what they had said and he doubled down on it being physical. He always stated afterward that he is a builder so he knows how to get such things done.

      I don't think he knows what a virtual wall is. This is not a man who thinks abstractly.

  2. People didn't believe Hitler would do the things he described in Mein Kampf either. They were wrong. We should assume Trump means every word of his campaign statements.

  3. I am peeved by this whole discussion of our attitudes toward Others. Clinton lost because not enough Democrats voted for her. She didn't have support of her own party because of the constant attacks from Sanders first, then the email and Wikileaks garbage, then the attacks on the Clinton foundation (which IS a charity), and the lack of coverage by the media of her many policy positions and programs. These resulted in a "lack of enthusiasm" on the part of her natural constituency, Democrats.

    She didn't lose because she didn't get enough votes from Trump supporters. Those people were never going to vote for her.

    Somerby decries polarization. Who can blame him. But the solution is not to encourage us to abandon strongly held values and embrace the flaws of those Others. It may be to find common ground. It may also be that there is more at stake now, so the divisions are over things perceived to be more important than they once were.

    Somerby has no respect for academics, despite the FACT that they teach everyone who does anything important in our nation. They also develop new knowledge that permits our nation to maintain its global edge. Somerby thinks it is fun to mock and then dismiss academics as exemplars of some despised elite. He follows in a tradition that goes back to our Revolution (see Hofstadter's "Anti-Intellectualism in America"). I find this as offensive as his worship of MLK and Malala.

    Ignorance may have put a dangerous man into power. Somerby thinks we should try to understand where this ignorance comes from, stop maligning it, have more empathy for it. I think we should stop condoning it, encouraging it, giving it equal status with acumen and stop pretending people have a right to be ignorant while making decisions affecting the lives of others.

    Somerby cannot make himself into a saint by emulating MLK and loving Trump supporters. When they start putting people in camps, they aren't going to ask people whether they have a good heart. They will be asking to see papers, looking at skin color, and asking whether you are gay.

    No matter how much you love and understand a tiger, it will still bite you if it can, because it is still a tiger. Our Others are not tigers. They are stupid, thoughtless, undereducated, greedy people who had fun at rallies and believed a conman instead of doing the harder work of finding the better candidate.

    1. You appear to suggest academics are not ignorant. That might have been true a generation ago and even more true a generation before that, but what goes on on campus now was not only accepted by but instituted by these people, and is evidence they know nothing about the country's founding principles, particularly the most important, freedom of speech.

      In other words, there is no group more ignorant and more willing to replace enlightenment in our culture with ignorance.

      “It is not about creating an intellectual space! It is not! Do you understand that? It is about creating a home here!”

    2. You, like Somerby, are generalizing from a few highly visible examples of foolishness to an entire profession. Some of the media images are edited by the right to portray lefty academics in worse ways than their behavior in context warranted.

      But, you are missing an important value of academia and the pursuit of knowledge. You tolerate all points of view, including fringe and foolish views, because censorship stifles the pursuit of knowledge. Creativity, innovation are names for what happens when deviance is beneficial. The examples that wind up in the news are what happens when deviance is unhelpful or unproductive. We need people to be free to follow their pursuits unfettered by societal constraints in order to create a chance for the serendipitous discoveries that move us forward in unexpected ways.

      Even academics don't consider everything done on a campus to be worthwhile, but it is all permitted because of that strongly held value that goes by the name of academic freedom.

      It seems odd that you would be citing freedom of speech to me without realizing the oddness of your desire to stifle activities on American campuses.

      When you talk about enlightenment, you seem to mean that students should be taught a defined set of beliefs or principles. Few academics would consider that "education."

    3. When Hitler gained power, one of the first things he did was destroy the universities. In other countries with oppressive regimes, the nexus of resistance comes from universities. This is no coincidence.

    4. "They are stupid, thoughtless, undereducated, greedy people who had fun at rallies and believed a conman instead of doing the harder work of finding the better candidate."

      You're comments are both untruthful and harmful to progressive interests. If that is how you feel about the vast majority of Trump supporters (your fellow countrymen), then you should not engage in political organizing.

      It is impossible to defend a lot of the work in the social sciences these days, particularly in psychology. The utter failure of the polling industry, and the reasons many pollsters gave for their false predictions (i.e. they just couldn't believe that Trump would win so they refused to consider polls that didn't support their conclusions), should make people very angry and cause them to look with extreme skepticism any of their other pronouncements about anything.

      Here is but one example of the garbage that is offered by many of today's "experts" in psychology:

    5. 7:19 We disagree on "few academics consider that education" (teaching a defined set of beliefs or principles.) It is unlikely someone entering college now, even the Ivies, would come out educated, as opposed to indoctrinated (ignorant). Most emerge with a skill set that will qualify them for a job, but are more ignorant about the founding principles of the constitution than the most conservative and "least educated" Trump voters.

      Institutes of "higher education" have given students time off studies to color in coloring books and weep about the election. There is something wrong with people who seek safe spaces and other forms of coddling from these institutions, but most academics are on board with the stupid trends because acquisition of knowledge is not their goal. Affirmation of what they want to believe and feeling emotionally gratified are the goals. Any student who notices certain facts risks being fired from campus papers, flunked, or expelled. Any academic who ventures into the wrong area of study is ostracized especially if he reaches the undesirable conclusions, regardless of the rigor of his research.

      Here is an example just this week of what happens when an educated, intelligent speaker attempts to inform college students about why they should tolerate speech that offends them. Ben Shapiro was kicked off campus for existing as a conservative, on his way to a free speech forum. This isn't progress.

    6. Dave the Guitar PlayerNovember 17, 2016 at 12:58 PM

      De Paul University is a private institution. The constitutional right to free speech restricts the government from preventing Ben Shapiro from speaking, but he has no right to speak on the (private) De Paul University campus unless he is invited by them. This applies to anyone (right or left), so this is not a partisan issue. Or do you want the government to be allowed to force private organizations to provide a forum for speakers they do not wish to hear?

    7. No one said they didn't have the right to prevent him from attending a free speech forum he was invited to by the organizers and speaker. You further advance your straw man by leaping to a generalization about forcing "private organizations" to do things, which no one here argued. This discussion is about the wrecking ball the progressive left, including academia, has taken to the liberal left at universities and everywhere else. De Paul is both a private institution and a university. No one should go there or send their kids there if they hope to become educated vs indoctrinated.

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    There is no federal law or regulation preventing any insurance company from setting up in another state and selling insurance there. They need state approval (not federal), that's all. The problem with selling insurance "across state lines" is that it's extremely difficult for the insurance company to set up doctor and hospital networks. If it were easy, you would have more insurance companies operating on the exchanges. The whole "insurance companies will be more competitive and prices will drop if they can sell across state lines" theme is a red herring because they already have the ability to do so, and choose not to, and also there is zero evidence prices would drop even if they were able to do so easily.

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