Joe Scarborough was on fire this morning, his ire trained on twin targets: Dick Blumenthal, and the New York Times' John Harwood, who casually dismissed the candidate's lies about having served in Vietnam as just a case of getting "a little carried away." At one point, Scarborough claimed he wasn't calling Blumenthal a "scumbag"—but it sure sounded like it.
Harwood began his Blumenthal defense with a barroom analogy: "the occasions where he was loose is more akin to a guy who had a few too many at the bar and hit on somebody rather than somebody actually trying to slip a mickey into the girls drink." He later added this lame defense: that even if Blumenthal lied to the veterans groups about his record, they weren't deceived by it. "Were all those veterans groups fooled by it?", asked Harwood, implying they weren't. "You're a reporter, you go ask them," snapped Scarborough.
Scarborough later pointed out that Blumenthal lied and trafficked on the valor of others on precisely those occasions when, appearing before veterans groups, it would benefit him politically. Harwood miscast Joe's criticism of Blumenthal as a demand that all candidates explain why they didn't serve. A peeved Scarborough called Harwood out: "John, I don't know show, what feed you're listening to."
At the end of the segment, Scarborough came very close to calling Blumenthal a "scumbag."
JOE SCARBOROUGH: The only reason I'm so upset is so many Americans fought and died in that war and suffered in that war and still carry those scars. This little political . . . blank, is using their valor to pick up some cheap votes at some meetings. As a politician, as a former politician, I know you don't make these sort of mistakes, and if you do, you're a scumbag. I'm not saying he is. That's all I'll say. I'm checking out.
Scarborough's suggestion that Harwood actually go out and do some reporting was particularly striking. For Harwood indeed sounds like someone who too often contents himself with passing along the idle cocktail-party chatter of the MSM set.
Note: Mark Halperin of Time essentially sided with Harwood, saying Blumenthal's lies weren't a big deal since on many occasions he had told the truth about his record. Andy Server of Fortune took a surprisingly hard line: "I just don't buy it at all. I think the guy should not run. I think he should resign." Serwer also surmised that there were other Blumenthal lies out there, as yet undiscovered.