In introducing Joe Scarborough this morning, Katie Couric described him a "former Republican congressman." After witnessing his performance, one is prompted to ask: was "former" intended to modify "congressman," or "Republican"?
In any case, Scarborough was living proof of the adage that the kind of Republicans welcome on the Today show are those willing to take swipes at the Bush administration.
Scarborough did so in spades this morning. Speaking of the Plame investigation, Katie asked, in her best butter-wouldn't-melt-in-her-mouth ingenue tone:
"Last September on Meet the Press Vice-President Cheney said he didn't know Joe Wilson, had never met him, and did not know who sent Joe Wilson to Africa in the first place. But that would contradict reports that the Vice-President had actually told Scooter Libby about Valerie Plame three months earlier. So you talk about political fallout, is Vice-President Cheney in hot water as a result of this?"
Scarborough gave Katie more than even she could have hoped for in response:
"I don't know that he's in hot water; I would tell you that in Middle America," continued Scarborough, a self-styled populist who imagines his finger firmly on Joe Six-Pack's pulse, "voters would call that a lie."
"Why is that important? It's important because you're talking about 2000 Americans that have died in Iraq. If the President can't be trusted on small things, if the Vice-President can't be trusted . . . well, I say small things, the bigger question is do you trust their logic, their reasoning for sending Americans into war and it certainly hurts their credibility if the Vice-President is not telling the truth."
When it came to how much trouble the Bush administration is in, Scarborough was willing to go even farther than Couric. Katie offered a rosy scenario in which no indictments came down and asked if that would give the White House a chance to turn things around.
But Scarborough was implacable:
"Well, here's the problem," replied Scarborough with a schadenfreude-filled cackle, "the second this crisis is over, if the White House averts crisis here and there are no indictments, guess what we'll be talking about next week? The possible withdrawal of Harriet Mier [sic]. I've talked to Republicans on Capitol Hill, I've talked to people in the White House. They think it's over; they do not think she's got the votes.
"At some point after these [Plame] storm clouds pass by those are the next storm clouds and it's very embarrassing for a White House and for a President who doesn't like to admit that he's wrong."
You know Katie couldn't have been more sincere when, in wrapping, she thanked Scarborough "so much."
Scarborough apparently believes that when your MSNBC show's ratings are as low as are his, it's important to demonstrate to your NBC masters that your heart is in the right, or shall we say, left, place.
Finkelstein has degrees from Cornell, SUNY Buffalo and Harvard. He lives in Ithaca, NY where he hosts "Right Angle," a local political talk TV show. He is currently seeking a publisher for his anti-terrorism thriller, "Albergue Olimpico."