You can’t blame MSNBC host Joe Scarborough for being miffed that President Donald Trump tweeted what seems to have been a reference to a nonsense conspiracy theory that Scarborough had something to do with the death of an intern back when he was a Florida congressman. It was utterly indefensible. Yet on Friday, Morning Joe threw away any scrap of moral high ground he might have had by peddling some conspiratorial talk of his own.
Now, you may be thinking that if people had really witnessed such a staggering threat to the safety of the country, then they would have a patriotic duty to go public and testify before Congress to everything they saw. And you would be right, but suspiciously, Joe here isn’t interested in substantiating what would be the story of the century. Instead, he and his pals have opted to skip right to what they want done about it — subordinates openly disobeying the commander-in-chief, including the military:
DONNY DEUTSCH: the Gary Cohns of the world and all of these people around him, a lot of very, very decent people. At what point do they stop the “well, I’m — it’s better me being here cause I’m protecting things” versus “I love this country. I love my children. I love my future grandchildren. There’s a man with his hand near the nuclear button and somebody’s gotta stand up” […]
SCARBOROUGH: If you are, you know, some of the generals that are around him, we’re in the middle, and we have been hearing for some time that they fear a land war on the Korean peninsula is coming. For them to abandon their post right now because of a tweet, they cannot do that. And I do believe history will show a lot of these men and women that are standing shoulder to shoulder through this crisis to be people that put their country first […]
Steve Rattner, who frequently appears on Morning Joe to do economic analysis, then chimed in to express his vague hope that people within Trump’s cabinet like John Kelly are “still willing to stand up to Trump when the moment comes.”
Yes, this is much saner than Donald Trump’s tweets…
For good measure, one of the panelists straight-up misrepresented a Military Times poll to suggest that America’s armed forces are chomping at the bit to refuse their CiC’s orders:
USA Today senior politics reporter Heidi Przybyla also took the opportunity to misrepresent a poll from the Military Times, claiming that it supported the idea that most military officers think Trump is mentally not “fit” to be commander-in-chief […]
There is only one Military Times poll conducted in late October that appears to be what Przybyla is referencing, but she completely misrepresented what the survey was about. The Military Times did not ask soldiers about what they thought of Trump’s fitness, mental or otherwise, for the Presidency.
The poll simply asked about general favorability toward Trump, and not only were the numbers not nearly as interesting, they weren’t even particularly negative for the president. The worst finding for Trump was that a mere 30 percent of officers had a favorable view of him, but 48 percent of enlisted troops did approve. Favorability/unfavorability among all troops was pretty evenly split at 44/40.
From questioning Barack Obama’s birth certificate to the “Ted Cruz’s dad and Lee Harvey Oswald” idiocy to this week’s tweet, it’s undeniable that Trump’s affinity for evidence-free personal attacks is a real flaw. Calling it a character, personality, and intellectual defect is entirely fair.
But contrasting Trump’s occasionally bizarre Twitter feed with his actual presidency so far — which has been largely conventional (too conventional in some ways), and has actually been more effective than “respectable” administrations on a number of measures — is all it takes to see that the man isn’t some incompetent basket case necessitating some dramatic break in the chain of command.
Unlikely as it may seem, the country can survive without Morning Joe’s advice.