Is Obama more 'hawkish' and yet more charming than his immediate predecessor?
Apparently so, claimed Time's Mark Halperin and MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski on Thursday's edition of "Morning Joe."
Halperin believes that President Obama has been more cavalier than his predecessor, and Brzezinski thinks that although Obama has extended many of Bush's unpopular policies, he brings a different "characterization" to the table.
The panel harped on the irony of Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize despite his inexperience in the White House at the time (less than a year) and the fact that he has continued American wars overseas and started a third one in Libya. Liberals Mike Barnicle and Mika Brzezinski both admitted to having been taken aback by the 2009 decision to bestow the prize on the president in his freshman year in office. (Interestingly enough, this recalls an episode in 2009 when co-host Joe Scarborough mocked the Nobel committee's decision on the "Morning Joe" set.)
(Video after the jump. Comments from start until 3 minutes in.)
Halperin chimed in that Obama, ironically, has been more "hawkish" than President Bush even though the Nobel committee awarded him the peace prize "because he wasn't George W. Bush." Halperin labeled Obama a "muscular executive" due to his continuation of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the present military action in Libya.
"By almost every metric you can use in terms of being a muscular executive – acting alone without congressional authority, extending the Bush policies overseas, particularly in the War on Terror and Afghanistan and Iraq – he's been more hawkish than George Bush," Halperin remarked.
Later in the segment, co-host Joe Scarborough pressed his liberal colleague Mika Brzezinski to admit that President Obama has continued most of the national security policies of the previous administration. Brzezinski admitted that but tried to sugarcoat the suggestion that Obama, who claimed to be a fresh face on the scene, is simply an extension of an unpopular administration.
"Yes, but he characterizes some of them differently," she said of Obama and the Bush policies. Scarborough burst out laughing and called Brzezinski out on her "spin."
A transcript of the segment, which aired on March 24 at 7:02 EDT, is as follows:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: I gotta say, I'm trying to figure out this Nobel Peace Prize, Peggy. I'm just wondering, okay. Now when I say that, it was like me getting a lifetime achievement award for my work in Hollywood, which of course I haven't started yet. That career starts three years from now. But it's like me getting that award at the beginning of – and I still don't get it, and I gotta say in my defense, if the Nobel committee had a chance, a do-over again, I would suggest that they would not give him the Nobel Peace Prize.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I wonder how that question was asked. Did you really deserve it, Mr. President?
SCARBOROUGH: I don't know, but Mike Barnicle, since he's got the Nobel Peace Prize, he's tripled the number of troops in Afghanistan – tripled them – of course, and then of course we've got Libya and many other things. It's – It is – I'm sure that they are wringing their hands, the Nobel committee, this morning.
BRZEZINSKI: Certainly not the President's fault.
MIKE BARNICLE: You know, the Nobel Peace prize being awarded to President Obama, in retrospect, it's like 24 year-old actors and rappers writing their autobiographies, you know, at the age of 24. He did nothing to get the Nobel Peace Prize. It was given as a gesture, I think, of what the goodwill that he represented at the time, and you're right. I mean now he's saddled with all the burdens and problems of the Presidency, and in Stockholm they're probably saying, "Hmm, geez."
SCARBOROUGH: Well you know Mark Halperin has to write many chapters about Barack Obama in the upcoming "Game Change 2," so let's go to him now for a defense of the President receiving the Nobel Prize. I'm joking. But seriously, he had to speak about it yesterday. It is ironic, since he received the award, he's tripled the number of troops in Afghanistan, he has, I guess about 120-130 cruise missiles on Libya getting in them middle of a civil war in Africa – this is not an anti-war peacenik in the White House.
MARK HALPERIN: Well, the irony is extended even further because of the man he replaced. He largely got the peace prize because he wasn't George Bush and the Europeans were so delighted to have a new American president. By almost every metric you can use in terms of being a muscular executive – acting alone without congressional authority, extending the Bush policies overseas, particularly in the War on Terror and Afghanistan and Iraq – he's been more hawkish than George Bush.
SCARBOROUGH: He really has. Mika, he has extended most of the policies of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
BRZEZINSKI: Yes, but he characterizes some of them differently.
SCARBOROUGH: (Laughing) Oh does that make him alright? That is the best spin I have heard this morning! That was great!
BRZEZINSKI: Peggy Noonan, what of those in the administration – what do you say to those who say this isn't actually war, this is a humanitarian effort in Libya? It's not war, and we're not taking him out – although Quadaffi must go.