Interviewing Donald Trump Is a Frustrating, Hopeless Endeavor
Donald Trump has given a number of interviews in the last few days in an attempt to put a little lipstick on the pig that was his disastrous first 100 Days in office. If you haven’t read any of them, don’t bother. It’s the incoherent ramblings of a man who potentially has dementia.
All of the interviews can be summed up by the following statements:
— Obamacare is dead.
— The Democrats are obstructionists.
— The world is shit, and only I can make it better.
— I have had the most successful First 100 Days since Truman, but also, the first 100 Days in an arbitrary number and doesn’t matter.
— Taxes are bad. I’m not going to benefit from the new tax laws, and no, I’m not going to release my tax returns because they are under audit.
— I’m not going to tell you what I’m going to do with North Korea. But China is bad, but also great, and we’re friends, but also, they’re bad.
— The media is dishonest. I had nothing to do with Russia. Obama cleared Michael Flynn. He’s Obama’s fault.
— I won. Shut up.
That’s it. That’s the gist of every single one of his interviews, so far. He’s repeating the same lines, tripping up over the same questions, avoiding giving any answers about his own policies, and blaming everything on Obama and the Democrats.
And I know a lot of us have been hoping that the media — when given the rare opportunity to do so — would push Trump harder on some of these questions, but this is not the “dishonest” media’s fault. It’s impossible to pin him down. It doesn’t matter how many ways you ask the same question, he either won’t provide a direct answer, or he’ll change his answer during the course of a single interview. It’s frustrating not just for people who want to know what the hell is going on, but for reporters, who cannot stick Trump to an answer.
Here’s a perfect example. In his interview with Face the Nation (or Deface the Nation, as Trump calls it), John Dickerson really and truly tries to get Donald Trump to clarify whether preexisting conditions will be covered under his new health care plan. Here’s the maddening exchange. Try reading it without pulling your hair out, and when you get to the end, ask yourself: “Are preexisting conditions covered or not?”
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about health care — Tucker Carlson interviewed you about six weeks ago when you were in the middle of health care negotiations. And you agreed with him that the health care bill wasn’t going to help your supporters. That those who lived in rural areas, the older, were going to get hurt by that bill. And you told him—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Excuse me, the health care bill is going to help my supporters.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, hold on. Let me just finish the question, if I may, sir—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Otherwise, I’m not going to sign it. I’m not going to do it.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, this is why I wanted to ask you. You said to Tucker, “We will take care of our people, or I am not signing it.” You said you were going to negotiate.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, that’s what I just said.
JOHN DICKERSON: So tell me what in the bill you’ve been negotiating to get—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But let me—
JOHN DICKERSON: —in that helps your supporters. I’m just trying to get the details of how your people—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Let me just tell you.
JOHN DICKERSON: —will be helped.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I just watched another network than yours, and they were saying, “Pre-existing is not covered.” Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, “Has to be.”
JOHN DICKERSON: So—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have, we’re going to have lower premiums. And before you start there, let me just tell you something. Obamacare is dead. Obamacare right now, all the insurance companies are fleeing. Places like Tennessee have already lost half of their state with the insurance companies. They’re all going. Obamacare, John, is dead. Okay, because we’re being — we’re being compared to Obamacare. Just, so. Obamacare doesn’t work—
JOHN DICKERSON: I just want to compare you to your own.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: One thing. No, no, it’s important. I’ve got to compare it.
JOHN DICKERSON: No, no, but I want—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But you were saying about Obamacare.
JOHN DICKERSON: No, but I’m not. I’m asking what—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: With Obamacare—
JOHN DICKERSON: —you’re going to do.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: —the premiums are too high. The deductibles are through the roof, so you never get to use it. But more importantly, it’s dead.
JOHN DICKERSON: So but in the bill, as it was analyzed, there were two problems. One, and you talked about this with Congressman Robert Aderholt, who brought you the example of the 64-year-old who under Obamacare the premiums—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But that was a long time ago, John.
JOHN DICKERSON: But has that been fixed?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Totally fixed.
JOHN DICKERSON: How?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: How? We’ve made many changes to the bill. You know, this bill is—
JOHN DICKERSON: What kind though?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: —very much different than it was three weeks ago.
JOHN DICKERSON: Help us explain because there are people—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The bill—
JOHN DICKERSON: —out there wondering what kind of changes.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Let me explain. Let me explain it to you.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This bill is much different than it was a little while ago, okay? This bill has evolved. And we didn’t have a failure on the bill. You know, it was reported like a failure. Now, the one thing I wouldn’t have done again is put a timeline. That’s why on the second iteration, I didn’t put a timeline.
But we have now pre-existing conditions in the bill. We have — we’ve set up a pool for the pre-existing conditions so that the premiums can be allowed to fall. We’re taking across all of the borders or the lines so that insurance companies can compete—
JOHN DICKERSON: But that’s not in—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: —nationwide.
JOHN DICKERSON: —this bill. The borders are not in—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Of course, it’s in.
JOHN DICKERSON: —this bill. It’s in that third bill, right, because—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It’s in the second phase.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It’s called phase one, phase two. And that’s, in effect, second phase, which will get approved, which will quickly get approved.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But let me just explain something. There will be such competition. Right now, there’s no competition. There will be such competition by insurance companies so that they can get health care and the people taking care of health care.
JOHN DICKERSON: So—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The other thing we’re going to have is groups. Groups of people can negotiate. What’s going to happen is the competition is going to drive down the premiums. In my opinion, much, much more than people understand.
JOHN DICKERSON: So what you’ve just described is the bill that you previously had said you worried wouldn’t help your people. And here’s why I ask. You said, “Pre-existing conditions.”
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, there were things in the other bill, the first version, which were not as good.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But when I watch some of the news reports, which are so unfair, and they say we don’t cover pre-existing conditions, we cover it beautifully.
JOHN DICKERSON: Although—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I’ll tell you who doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions. Obamacare. You know why? It’s dead.
JOHN DICKERSON: In one of the fixes that was—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It’s not going to be here.
JOHN DICKERSON: In one of the fixes it was discussed pre-existing was optional for the states—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Sure, in one of the fixes. And they’re changing it—
JOHN DICKERSON: —oh, okay. So it’ll—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: —and changing.
JOHN DICKERSON: —be permanent?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Of course.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay. Well, that’s a development, sir. So you’re saying it’s going to be pre-existing to everybody?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: John, this has evolved over a period of three or four weeks. Now, we really have a good bill. I think they could have voted on Friday. I said, “Just relax. Don’t worry about this phony 100 day thing. Just relax. Take it easy. Take your time. Get the good vote and make it perfect.”
JOHN DICKERSON: Just to—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Most importantly, we’re going to drive down premiums. We’re going to drive down deductibles because right now, deductibles are so high, you never — unless you’re going to die a long, hard death, you never can get to use your health care—
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you something—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: —because the deductibles are so high.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay. So what I hear you saying is pre-existing is going to be in there for everybody, it’s not going to be up to the states?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Pre-existing is going to be in there and we’re also—
JOHN DICKERSON: And it’s not up to the states?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: —going to create pools.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And pools are going to take care of the pre-existing.
JOHN DICKERSON: But on that crucial question, it’s not going to be left up to the states? Everybody gets pre-existing, no matter where they live?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, but the states—
JOHN DICKERSON: Guaranteed?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: —are also going to have a lot to do with it because we ultimately want to get it back down to the states.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay. Is it a guarantee?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Look, because if you hurt your knee, honestly, I’d rather have the federal government focused on North Korea, focused on other things, than your knee, okay? Or than your back, as important as your back is. I would much rather see the federal government focused on other things—
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: —bigger things. Now, the state is going to be in a much better position to take care, because it’s smaller.
JOHN DICKERSON: People out there with pre-existing conditions, they are worried. Are they going to have the guarantee of coverage if they have a pre-existing condition or if they live in a state where the governor decides that’s not a part of the health care, or that the prices are going to go up? That’s the worry. The American Medical Association says—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We actually—
JOHN DICKERSON: —it could effectively make coverage completely unaffordable for people.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: —we actually have, well, forget about unaffordable. What’s unaffordable is Obamacare, John.
JOHN DICKERSON: So I’m not hearing you, Mr. President, say there’s a guarantee of pre-existing conditions.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We actually have — we actually have a clause that guarantees.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay, excellent. We got there.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have a specific clause—
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you—
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: —that guarantees.
JOHN DICKERSON: —about your tax plan.
OK, what I’m hearing is that preexisting conditions are guaranteed, as long as the states agree to guarantee them, but the federal government is too busy with North Korea to worry about some guy’s knee injury, but sure, yes, preexisting injuries will be covered, because all of those people will be put into a high-risk pool and those people will have their preexisting injuries covered as long as they can afford the premiums that are going to be twice their annual salary.
It’s incoherent word salad that provides us with absolutely no new information, but sure, it’s the media who is “dishonest,” for failing to report what no reasonably person could possibly decipher.