Monday, November 9, 2009

Joe Scarborough Gets a Grasshopper Moment From Richard Haas

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for November 9th, 2009

1) It’s one thing to try and box in Katrina Vanden Heuvel by asking the premature question about whether her readers are disappointed in the as yet unannounced Afghanistan troop decision, but I bet it will be a much more thoughtful Joe Scarborough before he takes that same tactic with Richard Haas again anytime soon. It was an amazing back-to-back segment, where Katrina was forced to avoid an unfair question with everyone but JS at the table agreeing that maybe the readers should get to see the president’s full decision before deciding on their disappointment.

But Richard Haas handed Mr. Scarborough his lunch and did so with a swiftness and understated knowing of a scholar. Joe had tried that same old I've got more facts than you and you have no examples of what you're saying thing in regards to international participation in military actions, except this time he directed that at the President of the Council on Foreign Relations and OOPS. Richard had airtight inarguable examples for anything he was saying at instant recall and it went from a debate to a lecture in under 60 seconds. Not only was there a lucid non-reactionary clarity, but a stare that said at once, come back for more at your peril and it’s for your own good. JS will probably also want to avoid using that “I’ll answer it for you” line with legends like Tom Brokaw.

2) Nancy Pelosi has gone from a dirty word to a respected finisher in a matter of days. You could play a drinking game in listening through the MJ archives for disparaging references to the speaker. Today, that became too risky and throughout the broadcast, JS paid fair tribute belying his prior two years of disdain. Some of that disdain is or was deserved in that the curious selective memory as it pertains to intelligence briefings and the lack of ROI analysis in the first stimulus are extremely debatable entries on the speaker’s record. But its good to see the positive come through. Additionally, it was selective memory on the part of Mr. Scarborough to make propaganda out of the slim margin of victory, when he can roll his own tape and come up with his own quotes recognizing Nancy Pelosi had a strategy to provide cover to swing state Democrats that allowed them to vote against the measure when she knew she had the votes. It’s a vote counting masterpiece even beyond the credit Mr. Scarborough was willing to bestow.

3) What a brilliant idea on the philanthropic front to put volunteerism and New Orleans in as an offset to the Starbucks sponsorship. I’m not a fan of Starbucks, I don’t like their coffee and they seem like miniature Walmarts putting community shops out in an endless sea of Formica. But I understand that the longevity of journalism needs these kinds of partnerships and stand in support these models as experiments. One thing I’ve always thought is that there is a general suspicion of charity in a United Way “where does the money really go?” sort of way. My advice always: build something. The question that set Joe Scarborough off in the President’s press conference in New Orleans was about the lack of a Class 1 trauma hospital in New Orleans. Mr. Scarborough, if you’re truly going to build a public awareness campaign in this country in parallel with your outrage, why not build that hospital? Get the funding on a bond paid into by the charity you just started and break ground on November 20th. The opportunity cost of billion dollar presidential campaigns and 100 million dollar mayoral campaigns is a great cost to America. The return on investment of just building an elementary school named after your campaign rather than buying negative TV ads seems tossable except for the value of what remains when the campaign is over. Morning Joe could seize upon that concept here and make history rather than just a big check photo op.

4) I give the show an incomplete on the issue of the Stupak amendment. Please do your subscribers the service of recognizing where you garbled the message today and make an iron clad representation of what the amendment is going to do if implemented. Remember that it’s a setback every time you get it wrong. I know you tried with reasonable intent to get it right today, but you didn’t and lets see that clarified so that real debate can ensue.

5) I only want one other thing, to have Joe Lieberman leave his appearance on the show this Friday exposed. I have disdain for this individual dating back to him forcing his way onto the Gore presidential campaign by calling in a questionable favor. I watched in horror as he dismantled a perfectly winnable election, then had my suspicions found out as he has shown himself to be an aggrandizing spotlight seeker willing to shift with political opportunity in the same familiar way Mitt Romney does. It’s a real test for the show to apply pressure rather than placate.

Go Chargers, and see you tomorrow.

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