Posts Tagged ‘Joe Scarborough’

Scarborough: How Santorum Blew It

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Here’s Joe Scarborough on how Rick Santorum’s lack of discipline cost him a historic chance at derailing Mitt Romney’s nomination. Although the media will continue to pump up the upcoming contests, Santorum’s loss on Tuesday increasingly make it look as if Mitt Romney will go on to win this thing.


When Santorum should have been talking about his grandfather’s working-class roots, he was talking instead about your wife’s birth control pills. When he should have been connecting with blue-collar Catholics, he was instead insulting their martyred president. And when Mr. Santorum should have been talking about how the grandson of a coal miner graduated college with two advanced degrees, he instead mocked the aspirational idea that we should send more of our kids to college.

Or, as Bill Maher said in a slightly more impolitic manner, “the only thing more popular than Kennedy is fucking and college, and he attacked those too.”

Santorum had something good going. His working class midwest roots, passion and Catholicism were a contrast with Romney’s Ivy League “vulture capitalism” experience and fundamental uncomfortability in his own skin. As a frustrated GOP operative said “All Santorum had to do to win Michigan was turn his Iowa speech into a fucking TV ad and stick to it on the stump.” But Santorum couldn’t keep the focus on the economy, because that’s not really his passion. He’s a rabid cultural conservative at heart and he couldn’t hide it.  

If Romney lost in Michigan, all of the political discussion this week would have been on how Romney had shown fatal weakness and how GOP establishment members were plotting to sabotage his candidacy in order to nominate someone else at a brokered convention. Instead, the conversation is about how Santorum could have collapsed so spectacularly, why Romney keeps sabotaging himself with gaffes and flip flops after key wins, and why the GOP is arguing about issues that were settled by the American people over 50 years ago. To be sure, Romney doesn’t like this narrative either, but it sure as hell beats “how do we get rid of this stiff?”

And so, the last non-Romney falls. Certainly, Santorum and Newt may continue to dog Mitt for the months leading up to the convention, but it’s increasingly likely that Mitt will be taking on President Obama in November.

Let the Brokered Convention Discussion Begin

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Watching Morning Joe’s Friday morning show, I had a real sense that the last South Carolina debate (and the Newt surge that was accompanying it) was a real turning point in this primary process. I knew that Newt’s surge would make the Republican nomination process drag on, but I also knew that he couldn’t win the nomination and I had assumed that this would mean that Romney would be the eventual nominee by default.

But watching Joe Scarborough talk about how he has been talking to “the most powerful conservative movers and shakers” in the party, and that “every single one I’ve spoken to is trying to figure out a way to get to a brokered convention,” I got the sense that the outcome could be very different. Mark Halperin’s suggestion that (presumably,  once this possibility becomes more overt) “we might see favorite sons get on the ballot in order to block anyone from accumulating enough delegates to get a majority” confirmed that this was more than just a possibility and that some party elites were already planning for such an eventuality.

Post-South Carolina’s drubbing of Romney, Nate Silver has some musings on whether this year will break the “momentum of early state victories propels the winner to victory” pattern. Of course, political junkies speculate on this possibility almost every time there is a contested primary process, but Silver draws on the work of Rhodes Cook and argues that it is not inconceivable for this race to break the mold of previous races.

Romney just had a horrible twelve days, and it’s certainly possible that he bounces back in Florida, regains his momentum and makes all this discussion seem quaint in a few months. But it’s also possible that the wounds he sustained over the past few weeks may increasingly make him look like a fatally flawed candidate. This, combined with conservative dislike of him, could  be enough to push Tea Party folks to risk it all in order to deny him the nomination.  This is, after all, the party that lost the Senate in 2010 by nominating people like Sharron Angle, Christine O’ Donnell, John Raese and Ken Buck.

As has been the case for every early state to date, we’ll watch the next primary for signs of what’s to come. As Silver notes, “South Carolina alone is not enough to be paradigm-breaking. But if (Gingrich) follows it with a win in Florida, all bets are off.”


Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Here’s Nate Silver on how Hunstman has the momentum, but may lack the time to capitalize on it.

I loved this exchange on Morning Joe. If you go to the last five minutes you can watch Harold Ford comparing Hunstman to a football player who looks great on paper, but just can’t keep up with the other players at the combine. Also, Joe Scarborough commenting on Huntsman unfathomable decision to reply in Chinese when challenged by Romney for being too soft on China…

Because there’s nothing that gets the Republican base as fired up as speaking Mandarin….

I almost fell out of my chair watching that one.

Mika Brezinski is quick to defend Huntsman, but Scarborough points out that “Ron Paul could explain the details of delivering a baby, but you don’t want him to so that on the stage…”

I have been impresssed by Huntsman at times, but he seems a bit too tepid for a Republican party that likes their tea hot and it’s hard to hard to see where Huntsman goes next if he clocks a 2nd place finish in New Hampshire. That being said, if his father continues to write checks,  he may have the ability to stick around for a little while.

Glenn Beck off the Deep End

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

It seems like Glenn Beck may have finally gone too far.

The week that the Egypt protests broke wide open, Beck seemed to go off the deep end with his talk of how the peaceful protests in Egypt demanding the end of Mubarak’s rule could be a precursor to the eventual establishment of an Islamic Caliphate that would take over the entire Middle East and potentially spread into Asia and Europe.

If you didn’t know that Beck was a pasty faced huckster with no real sense of international politics or history, then you might get really freaked out watching him manipulate his touchscreen to create a phosphorescent Islamic Caliphate out of the entire Middle East and then explain how Spain, France, Britain and Italy could come under the sway of the new Caliphate because they also have some Muslims living in their countries. Beck goes on to weave a complex tapestry of conspiracy, which includes among its members both President Bushes, “the Left,” and labor unions, just to name a few. In fact,  throughout the week Beck tied the Islamic caliphate theory to quite an impressive list of Fox News villans, including Islamic Socialists, ACORN, Code Pink, Anarchists and Bill Ayers, all of whom Beck claimed were engaged in a  ”well orchestrated campaign” to pave the way for the caliphate.

The next week, Bill Kristol at the American Standard, the most idealistic (Pollyanish?) of the neo-cons, called Beck out. Kristol contrasted Charles Krauthammer’s words of caution about events in Egypt and Beck’s paraniod ravings, noting:

hysteria is not a sign of health. When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He’s marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s.

In fact, as Chris Matthews pointed out, Beck’s paraniod ramblings seems to be cribbed directly from the John Birchers‘ recent talking points.

In the month that has followed, a number of prominent conservatives have joined Kristol in denouncing Beck. Joe Scarborough (no fan of Glenn Beck before) called him ”bad for the conservative movement” and said that he was “losing it before our eyes.” Peter Wehner, from the uber-conservative website Commentary, called him the “most disturbing personality on cable television,” and urged conservatives to distance themselves from him before he “blows apart professionally.” Time columnist Joe Klein noted that he had heard from more than a few conservative sources that “prominent conservatives” have approached Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes and pushed for his ouster at Fox.

While Fox has never been a network particularly concerned with the truth, perhaps a better motivator may be Beck’s declining ratings: January’s ratings were the worst he’s posted since his Fox show debuted in January 2009.

My own take on this is that two trends are driving this backlash against Beck and people like him:

First, the country has had a full two years of heart rending bitter partisanship. While Obama and Pelosi were running the country and the Right was fully mobilized against them, there was a strong tendency toward cohesion. The nutty conspiracy theories that Beck was spouting were tolerated because they were aimed at a common enemy. Now that the inexorable march toward liberal “tyranny” has been stopped, people are looking for a respite from the continual pitched battles between left and right. This has shown up not only in Beck’s declining ratings, but in public opinion about Sarah Palin after she clumsily and agressively went on the attack after Gabby Giffords was shot. At a time when the country needed healing, Sarah Palin showed the same pettiness that she has shown throughout her career, and the public took note. While Obama delivered a stirring speech on the need to come together as Americans and tone down the rhetoric, Palin once again seemed obsessed with her own public image and sense of victimhood.

In a similar vein, the Republican victory is revealing cracks in the facade of conservative unity that were obscured during the fight against a common enemy. These cracks were conspicuously on display during the Egyptian protests.  Neo-cons who still believe in Bush’s “freedom agenda” have a far different worldview from the cautious realpolitik that Repulicans like Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft used so effectively (and that Obama’s team has tried to emulate), and Glenn Beck’s Bircher influenced conspiracy theories are almost diametrically opposed to the neo-con worldview. As events unfolded in Egypt, you had people like Beck and others basically arguing that Muslims can’t be allowed to have democracy and neo-cons like Kristol arguing that Middle Eastern democracy is essential to achieving our national security objectives.   

While no faction has a monopoly on truth, Beck’s recent rantings are undeniably nutty and it is clear that it’s probably in the interest of the Republicans to distance themselves from him. As Kristol alluded to, we may finally be seeing a replay of the early 1960′s when William F. Buckley famously denounced the John Birch Society in the National Review.

The secretive Birch Society had views that were not far from Beck’s. It’s founder, Robert Welch had called President Dwight D. Eisenhower, ”a conscious, dedicated agent of the communist conspiracy” and he claimed that the US government was “under operational control of the Communist party” (can’t you hear Beck saying something like this on his show?).  

In his 1962 editorial, Buckley called Welch “idiotic” and “paranoid” and said his views were “far removed from common sense.” This effectively banished the Birchers from the conservative movement for almost 50 years, until  they re-emerged in 2010.

Could we be watching history repeat itself 5o years later? I won’t hold my breath, but this might be fun to watch. 

Scarborough: Moving Past Right Wing Rhetoric

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Here’s a link to another great Joe Scarborough piece on the Giffords tragedy and his discussion of it this morning.

Scarborough is fast becoming the chief critic of Palin and Glenn Beck in the Republican party, perhaps because of the fact that he is more concerned about the Republican party’s future than he is in saving his own political bacon.

Check this out:

We get it, Sarah Palin. You’re not morally culpable for the tragic shooting in Tucson, Ariz. All of us around the “Morning Joe” table agree, even if we were stunned that you would whine about yourself on Facebook as a shattered family prepared to bury their 9-year-old girl.

The same goes for you, Glenn Beck. You’ve attacked your political opponents with words designed to inspire hatred and mind-bending conspiracy theories from fans. Calling the president a racist, Marxist and fascist may be reprehensible, but it did not lead a mentally disturbed man to take a Glock to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s “Congress on Your Corner” event.

Good on ya, buddy. You weren’t personally responsible for the slaughter at the Safeway. Maybe you can put it on a poster at the next “Talkers” convention.


Later in the article, he makes the point that it’s not only the right thing to do to call out people who engage in this kind of rhetoric, but it’s probably the politically savvy thing to do as well because, while overheated political rhetoric might be a great way to win elections in midterm years,

Presidential-year elections are driven by a completely different demographic. Good luck trying that “Second Amendment remedies” crap on swing voters in the suburbs. It just won’t fly. And neither will the cacophony of crazy talk that has gripped the far right for the past two years.

Nice to know that at least some nationally known Republicans have managed to survive the Obama-Pelosi years with both their brains and integrity intact…  

BTW, The reference Scarborough makes to Bryon Williams and the Tides Foundation is about a guy dressed in body armor who was on his way to shoot up the ACLU and the obscure San Francisco based Tides Foundation last July, but who was stopped by the police for drunk driving and decided instead to take on 10 CHP officers. I wonder where he could have heard about the Tides foundation?

Thoughts on the Giffords Shooting

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Here’s Joe Scarborough on the Gabbrielle Giffords shooting.

The discussion about civility is important, but I connect even more with the personal story of how he and his wife felt when they heard the news.

My response was similar. When I first heard the news, I thought to myself: the thing that we have feared for so long has come to fruition. Sharron Angle’s “2nd Amendment Remedies” have finally caught up with the nation. Watching the video of Giffords talking about how her office window was shattered after her vote on the health care bill  just reinforced that belief:

our office corner has really become an area where the Tea Party movement congregates and the rhetoric is incredibly heated. Not just the calls, but the e-mails, the slurs..things have really gotten spun up.


I watched Giffords talk in the interview about how Palin targeted her district with gun crosshairs. Her father was asked after her shooting if she had any enemies and responded “Yes, the entire Tea Party.” All of this just added to the sense that the shooting was a result of the overheated political climate we have seen in this country since Obama was elected. 

As more info came to light, it became clear that the truth was slightly more complicated than that: Jared Loughner had been obsessed with Giffords since 2007; he was not involved with any organized political movement, and the philosophies he espoused didn’t really fit neatly into any of our usual political debates.

Whether or not the overheated rhetoric created a climate that gave Loughner the go ahead in his demented brain to act on his long held feelings may never be known. What is clear, however, is that the discourse has become poisonous, and that we’re lucky that we only have a few broken windows, empty death threats and some swastikas on black congressmen’s signs to show for it.

While people on the left have tried to blame Sarah Palin for the Giffords shooting, others on the right have played the victim, protesting that they and the Tea Party have been falsely accused and that Democrats also used to say mean things about President Bush while he was president. While I understand the basic principle that it’s not nice to say mean things about national leaders, this is clearly a false equivalency. Consider the fact that death threats against Obama after his inauguration spiked by over 400 percent from George Bush levels; or the fact that the last time we had a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President, the doomsday rhetoric was also off the charts, and the result was that someone killed 168 people and blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City.

I don’t mind a good partisan fight, but when you have a whole group of people who believe that the President of the United States is a “secret muslim” Manchurian Candidate… and you have an even bigger group of people who can’t tell the difference between “tyranny” and losing two elections…and those same people have a tendency towards gun fetishes and a heightened sense of victimhood… and they are manipulated into believing that the biggest threat to their “freedom” is giving health care to people, this all adds up to a volatile mix. The worst thing you can do in this situation is to have community and political leaders fan the flames of that fire.

I’m not one to go on a big tirade against Sarah Palin for her ill advised gun crosshairs targeting map. It’s pretty outrageous, but I don’t think it’s worth spending too much time hyperventilating about it. Still, a few basic common sense rules might be in order here: It’s irresponsible to tweet to your supporters (many of whom are gun fetishists with an overwrought sense of victimhood): “Commonsense Conservatives and lovers of America: don’t retreat–Instead RELOAD,” as Sarah Palin did just after health care passed. It’s irresponsible to tell people to come to a rally against Obama’s policies “armed and dangerous” as Michelle Bachman did in 2010. It is way beyond the pale to suggest that if Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama aren’t thrown out of office, people on the Right might have to turn to an armed overthrow of the government, as the Republican’s best funded 2010 Senate candidate did, and if you are tempted to bring your semi-automatic weapon to the protest across the street from where the president’s speaking “because that’s your right,” you might just want to reconsider. 

As Bill Clinton said on the 15th Anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing:

What we learned from Oklahoma City is not that we should gag each other or reduce our passion from the positions we hold – but that the words we use really do matter, because there’s this vast echo chamber and they go across space and they fall on the serious and the delirious alike. They fall on the connected and the unhinged alike.

So again, this isn’t an argument that all people who sympathise with the Tea Party are violent thugs, or that they shouldn’t fight for what they believe in. It is an argument that, in this charged political environment, leaders have a responsibility to think about the ramifications of what they say before they say it and make their case for a particular policy without resorting to incitement.

My sense of this is that, now that they got their way, some on the right will tone down the rhetoric. It’s my bet that, now that they’ve actually won a national election for the first time in 6 years, the government looks more like the elected representatives of the country than a “tyrannical regime” bent on imposing socialism on the country. But violent rhetoric is a tricky thing. Once you’ve taken that genie out of the bottle, it is hard to get it back in.

We all hope for the best here, but as the events of two weeks ago show, we need to prepare for the worst as well.

Compromise, Not Capitulation Mr. President

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Here’s Joe Scarborough from a couple of days ago.

This is a long discussion (fast forward to 6:45 if you don’t have a spare 20 minutes, or 11:45 if you have less time).

Scarborough talks about how there is a lot of revisionist history with regards to Bill Clinton. While it’s true that he tacked to the middle after his defeat in 1994, Scarborough points out that Clinton ”beat the hell out of us for a year” before he compromised and that Clinton would have hung the Republicans current position on taxes and unemployment benefits around their necks and only then cut a deal with them.

I’m not one of these people on the left that thinks extending Bush tax cuts for the rich for two years (insuring that any additional extension will be vetoed by Obama) is a great betrayal of principles, but I do think the president needs to take the opportunity to draw a clear distinction on this issue.

The Republicans are planning on filibustering an extention of middle class tax breaks so that they can preserve tax breaks for the top 2%. In the House today, 168 Republicans refused to vote for an extention of tax cuts for 100% of Americans on the first $250,000 they make next year because they couldn’t get tax cuts for the 2% of people who make over $250,000. At a time when there are five job seekers for every one job opening, the Republicans are refusing to extend unemployment benefits for 2 million people unless the benefits are “paid for.” At the same time, they are refusing to allow any other votes until they get tax cuts for the top 2% that will add $700 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years (the same deficit they’ve been complaining about non-stop for two years).

I’m fine with an eventual compromise (even a quick compromise). I just want the president to take the opportunity to let the Republicans show how out of touch with the American people their priorities truly are, just as they insist that their month old victory shows how much  Americans agree with them.

Take a lesson from President Clinton, Mr. President. He might have compromised with the Republicans after 1994, but he would never have let an opportunity like this pass him by.

Joe Scarborough Rips Sarah Palin

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Finally, a Republican (besides Barbara Bush) stands up to Sarah Palin.

Joe Scarborough, in a scathing opinion piece in Politico (and later on his show), ripped Palin:

Republicans have a problem. The most-talked-about figure in the GOP is a reality show star who cannot be elected. And yet the same leaders who fret that Sarah Palin could devastate their party in 2012 are too scared to say in public what they all complain about in private.

Enough. It’s time for the GOP to man up.

and later:

this is one Republican who would prefer that the former half-term governor promote her reality shows and hawk her books without demeaning the reputations of Presidents Reagan and Bush. These great men dedicated their lives to public service and are too good to be fodder for her gaudy circus sideshow.

If Republicans want to embrace Palin as a cultural icon whose anti-intellectualism fulfills a base political need, then have at it. I suppose it’s cheaper than therapy.

But if the party of Ronald Reagan, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio wants to return to the White House anytime soon, it’s time that Republican leaders started standing up and speaking the truth to Palin.

Here’s a clip from his show where he defends the article:


Gingrich & Co Follow a Well Worn Path

Monday, August 30th, 2010

When I was a graduate student in Poli Sci at UC San Diego, I worked for a quarter as a Teaching Assistant for an Intro to Comparative Politics class. We taught a unit on ethic conflict and the main takeaway we wanted students to get from this section was that ethnic conflict is not indigenous (or primordial, as older political scientists used to argue), but that it is usually a result of political leaders who bring latent ethnic tensions to the fore as a way to gain or increase their political power. 

For instance, as in any multi-ethnic society, there were always some latent prejudice in the Balkans between the Serbs, Croats and Bosnians, but for 45 years of after World War II (and indeed during the World War II period when multi-ethnic groups fought against the Nazi’s), Tito’s Communist Party was able to keep Yugoslavia together and tamp down any ethnic strife by stressing the commonalities between the different ethnicities and not tolerating ethnic conflict. After the fall of Communism, politicians like Slobodon Milosevich and others filled the political vacuum and began to sew the seeds of conflict with divisive appeals to Serbian nationalism and political speech and action that exacerbated already existing tensions between ethnic groups. The rest, as they say, is history. 

As I watched the national freakout over the planned Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan,  I thought back to this theory as I heard Newt Gingrich rail against the “Ground Zero Mosque.”  Among the would-be- president’s  greatest hits we heard over the last few weeks were the following: “There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.” …and…allowing the Islamic community center to be built near Ground Zero “would be like putting a Nazi sign next to the Holocaust Museum.” In addition to these outrageous statements, Gingrich has proposed a Federal Law which would ban any court from using Sharia law as a replacement for American law (since this is such a burning issue in America).

I won’t spend the time deconstructing these statements because they are outrageous on their face. What I will point out is that Gingrich is engaging in a cynical ploy to gain favor in an increasingly small, insular and  Nativist Republican party in an attempt to blaze a path to the 2012 presidential elections. Similarly, perennial loser Rick Lazio, facing an impossible race for the Governorship of New York against Andrew Cuomo has made opposition to the community center his number one issue in the campaign, regularly appearing on national media to smear the imam and demand that there be an “investigation of the funding” for the development.

There is increasing evidence that the Republican party as a whole are taking advantage of  latent American Islamophobia to gain political advantage. While people like  former Congressman Joe Scarborough and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have been notable voices of tolerance, many other Republicans have eschewed George Bush-like rhetoric about Islam and joined the chorus of religion baiting. Unfortunately,  Obama’s initial statement in favor of the mosque has played right into the Republican’s hands, handing them yet another cultural issue to use against the Democrats.  

Whatever you thought of George W. Bush (and I thought he was a terrible president), he did get one thing right. Even as his Administration went to war with two Islamic countries and took advantage of American ignorance about the Muslim world to conflate Bin Laden with Saddam Hussein, he consistently made it clear that we weren’t at war with Islam and that Islam was a religion of peace. Whether you believe that last statment or not, that kind of national leadership was a critical component in tamping down ethnic tensions in the wake of 9-11 when many Americans were looking for revenge and ready to strike back at the people who perpetrated the attack on America. To a large degree, this effort worked. Although there was a big spike in anti-muslim hate crimes just after September 11th,  in the following years, these incidents subsided.   

Conservatives such as Charles Krauthamer and Jonah Goldberg have pointed to the liberal outrage about Islamophobia as yet another example of the liberals crying racism when their positions are not supported by Americans. According to these conservatives, the “Ground Zero” conflict is really just a debate about the location of the Lower Manhattan mosque, not whether Muslims can build places of worship. Certainly that’s true for some, but that argument loses some credibility when often vicious protests break out from Tennessee to Florida to Southern California over mosques that are being built within local communities.

Is the United States on the verge of some new Nazism or a Bosnian type ethnic cleansing with Newt Gingrich playing the role of Slobodan Milosevic?

Of course not. Despite the increase in incidents and protest against Muslims practicing their religion, most Americans are a generally tolerant and good people, and I’m hopeful that our better angels will prevail.  But when politicians pander to our worst prejudices and intolerances in an attempt to gain and keep political power, it tears at the fabric of American society, divides good Americans against each other and generally takes us further away from the ideals of tolerance and religious freedom that have made America great. This issue might help Newt win a few Republican primaries, but what he and others are doing is bad for the country.