As readers of my blog know, I usually watch MSNBC’s Morning Joe program most days, because it’s the only early morning show that sometimes has serious and meaningful discussions about American politics.
Today, however, was one of the program’s most low points. The show had one of its regular line-up of guests, Columbia University’s prominent professor, the internationally known Jeffrey Sachs, head of its Earth Institute and well known as the man who gave the Yeltsin government advice on privatization after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
During a daily feature, the reading of what Scarborough and his co-host Mika Brzezinski consider the previous day’s most important op-eds, Scarborough read aloud from an article by Victor Davis Hanson that appeared on National Review Online. This brilliant piece, one of Hanson’s best — and that is saying a lot, since he is one of the most astute commentators around — dealt with how Obama has essentially reversed all of his own most favored policies, and yet still manages to command support from his loyal followers, those whose “most vehement leftism now accepts nonchalantly what it not long ago so ardently demonized.” Heading in the other direction than that he first fought for, Hanson writes, “he can still be praised as if he had dematerialized and gone ahead right on through the wall.”
Sachs was not a guest who was there to comment on Hanson’s op-ed, but almost before Scarborough finished reading from it, the following exchange took place. You can watch it here:
The text follows:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: I’m trying to figure out though, and Dr. Sachs asked this of you Charles [Blow], who is Barack Obama at this point? What does he stand for? And Victor Davis Hanson, at the National Review, writes this about The Obamaites About-Face:
“For his political survival, Obama now accepts that his faith-based ideas about the environment, radical Islam, taxes, stimulus, the economy, national security, and foreign policy are not supported by any evidence in the real world . . . The wonder is not that politicians change as politics dictate, but that the most vehement leftism now accepts nonchalantly what it not long ago so ardently demonized.”
And Hanson goes through all of the things: the Bush tax cuts, the estate tax cuts, the stimulative wonders of tax cuts in general, Gitmo, NSA, tripling the number of troops in Afghanistan. We talked about [Obama saying] “we celebrate wealth,” Eric Holder quoted in ABC saying “some religions produce more terrorists than others.” These people are sounding an awful lot like George W. Bush these days . . . [Obama] has shifted dramatically on issues of terror, on Gitmo, on taxes, on celebrating wealth: I think that’s undeniable.
JEFFREY SACHS: Anything that Hanson says I’m likely to disagree with, cause no commentator has done more harm to the American people actually than that guy who led us into all these disastrous wars. But aside from that –
SCARBOROUGH: My God! That is serious.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: OK, then!
SACHS: No, that is real. Because this is an extremist. So quoting him doesn’t really make the point.
. . .
SCARBOROUGH: And I will put Victor Hanson –
SACHS: Sorry, that’s a side point, but that man – that guy’s done a lot of damage.
SCARBOROUGH: I will put Victor Davis Hanson to the side, you obviously, you guys aren’t on each other’s mailing lists, Christmas card lists.
SACHS: That guy got us into more wars, and more militarism, than anybody. (my emphasis.)
And what did Joe “Mr. No Labels” movement Scarborough, who talks every day about the need for civility, camaraderie and dialogue between folks of different opinions, have to say to Jeffrey Sachs after this most vile outburst?