Nothing more signals the heating up of another election cycle than the bleary-eyed, half-dressed, faux-cool Joe Scarborough actually showing up – on set or at all – for work on the MSNBC show that touts his first name if not his regular presence: “Morning Joe.”
Another clear signal is that his hypocrisy about and hyperbolic characterizations of both President Obama and his policies begin to approach that of such right-wing luminaries as Bill Kristol, Dick Cheney, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John McCain, Allen West and others in the increasingly unhinged Republican Clown Car.
Election cycles also mean that Scarborough’s show begins to feature such low-lights as Hugh Hewitt, who has one foot hanging over the far-right edge of the Republican/Conservative flat earth, as if they were credible commentators on any issue other than putting new sewer lines in their neighborhoods.
And, one of the surest signs of an approaching election is that, not wanting to miss even a moment when he can trash either the president or Hillary Clinton, MSNBC’s token conservative propagandist is no longer willing to make time for Mika Brzezinsky to mention at least five times per day that her daughter is now beginning her second year at Johns Hopkins University!
After all, that is time that could be spent showing a clip from Jebbers’ Tuesday night speech during which he blamed Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for destabilizing the middle east by “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”
No mention, of course, that his brother, George W., and his vice-president lied us into the Iraq War that put the entire Near and Middle East on the road to its present chaos. No mention, of course, that his brother negotiated and signed the Status of Forces agreement that forced President Obama to withdraw our troops from Iraq.
No mention, of course, that his brother purged from power Sadaam’s Baathist Party members, who could have been useful in rebuilding and restabilizing the country he destroyed and destabilized, but have now become part of the ISIS leadership. Not to mention that it ended any possibility of Iraq having a credible military to secure the country when the U.S. pulled out.
This Monday morning past, after the usual round of non-factual, often baseless innuendo and misleading statements that usually set the stage for the daily segment of Hillary-bashing, Joe Scarborough and his table of losers took on what history eventually might consider President Obama’s single foreign policy achievement; the agreement per Iranian nuclear research forged in the crucible of down-and-dirty negotiations in Geneva between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China.)
[Excursus: It does bear mention that the reasonable and usually well-reasoned Steve Rattner was at the table, even though he could not get a reasonable, well-reasoned word in because the ever-annoying Nicole Wallace, who thinks the set of “Morning Joe” is nothing more than a Republican spin room, could not stop interrupting him with unreasonable, poorly-reasoned talking-points.]
Scarborough began with typical Republican hyperbole, professing “shock” and “dismay” that the president would “vilify” and “demonize” opponents of the agreement by “equating congressional hardliners with hardliners in Tehran.” Using what has, during the Obama years, become almost the go-to Republican modifier, Joe found it, uh, “chilling.”
Though old, I still have all of my original teeth. Had I not been in possession of them, any dentures carefully installed and glued into place earlier that morning would have fallen to the floor. No one has ever accused Joe Scarborough of being self-aware. But this little moment of straight-faced, hyperbolic hypocrisy answers the question of why that charge has never been leveled at him.
The fact of the matter is that Barack Obama is not in the habit of “vilifying” or “demonizing” anyone. To his credit, it has just not been his style. And, in this instance, he remained true to his usual manner. He reasonably laid out his case and, quite frankly, it has no problem passing the smell test per the equivalency he draws.
Nothing more than a cursory glance at the record verifies that both Iranian and Republican “hardliners” have been“implacably opposed” to this deal before it was ever made, “before they even read it, before it was even posted.” For God’s sake, Republican presidential candidates admitted as much. And it is equally verifiable that the opposition of hardliners in both Tehran and Washington “is reflective of an ideological commitment not to get a deal done.” Feel free to factually refute that if you can.
But, by accusing him of “vilifying” and “demonizing,” Scarborough didn’t just mean the president was dealing in false equivalencies. He was also accusing him of name-calling. And of making non-factual, hyperbolic characterizations of opponents. Projection much, Joe?
Though he would have been more than justified in doing so, President Obama, as mentioned earlier, has simply never made a practice of doing to his political opponents what they have habitually and almost daily done to him for nearly seven years; i.e., name-calling (general or racist), demonizing (“Nazi,” “Communist,” “the anti-Christ” et al), demagoguing, or calling into question his general character (“lawless,” “appeaser,” “liar,” et al), his religion (if he was Muslim, which he isn’t, what difference would it make?), his birthplace (Kenya, of course), and, their favorite, his patriotism (“He was placed here as a child to become part of a radical Islamic sleeper cell”).
Nonetheless, Scarborough summoned up a facial expression that, in a really creepy way, combined preternatural innocence with faux-indignation and pronounced himself “staggered” that President Obama would resort to “personal attacks” that represented a “new low” for a country that values and prides itself on “decency” and “respectfulness” in its public discourse.
The Editorial Board of the New York Times, along with many of us, disagreed with the Panhandle Panhandler’s take on who was and who wasn’t engaged in civil public discourse: “What should be a thoughtful debate has been turned into a vicious battle against Mr. Obama.”
Mike Huckabee dropped in from the other side of the Looking Glass to offensively accuse the president of marching Jews “to the door of the oven” per the Iran agreement.
Tom Cotton, who apparently slept through U.S. Constitution 101 during his college and law school years, inexplicably equated John Kerry – whose military record and record as a public servant will, I promise, never be matched by the rookie senator from Arkansas – with Pontius Pilate.
Jeb Bush took the silver spoon out of his mouth long enough to access the usual Republican fallback position that the president is an appeaser. “Appeasement,” he said, is the “bad result you get when you enable people or regimes who don’t embrace democratic values.” And, with no one apparently willing to take the shovel out of his hands as he dug his own hole deeper, he said that “History is full of examples.” One supposes Jebbers forgot that the history of his brother’s administration was full of those examples. Hypocrisy much, Jeb!?
John “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran” McCain, whose every foreign policy prescription seems to involve “American boots on-the-ground and American bodies in-the-ground,” continued Jeb’s “appeaser” meme with his usual tripe about the president “carrying on in the finest traditions of Neville Chamberlain.”
Which raises the question of why the national media continuously searches out John McCain for his perspective on foreign policy issues. His remedy never changes: Bomb them into the Stone Age and then send in American troops. He could just copy/paste and email it in.
Ted Cruz claimed the president was cementing Iran’s status as “the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism.” Again, one notes how little attention Cruz—or, any Republican—pays to the situation on the ground in the Islamic world. Were he paying attention, he would know that “the world’s [actual]leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism” is the home of the Bush family’s BFF, Saudi Arabia.
There are more but, seriously, how many can you stand to read?
When I first heard Scarborough slam the president for “vilifying” and “demonizing” those who differed with him per the Iran agreement, I thought I had fallen down the Rabbit Hole, where white is black and black is white. But, as it turned out, spending a morning with Joe and listening to him talk about how Republicans pride themselves on “decency” and “respectfulness” in their public discourse had just momentarily transported me to a parallel universe known to its permanent residents as Hypocrisy Hell.
Scarborough has a home in a gated community there.