Could this be the most unvarnished insult to someone's intelligence in the recent annals of major network television? Here was Zbigniew Brzezinski, speaking to Joe Scarborough on today's "Morning Joe." [H/t reader Melody.]
You know, you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it's almost embarrassing to listen to you.
It was Scarborough's exposition of the widely accepted view—shared by Bill Clinton himself—that Yasser Arafat was to blame for the failure of the 2000 Camp David summit, that prompted Brzezinski's remarkable display of disdain.
As you can imagine, Scarborough didn't take the insult lying down, but Brzezinski continued to insult his host, at one point going so far as literally to spell things out for him.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You can't blame what is happening in Israel right now on the Bush administration.
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Yes you can.
SCARBOROUGH: You can't. Let's go back to 2000, Dr. Brzezinski. Bill Clinton gave Arafat and the Palestinians everything they could have wanted.
BRZEZINSKI: You know, you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it's almost embarrassing to listen to you.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, is it?
And a bit later . . .
SCARBOROUGH: We have another bloc, and I'm very excited aboug that because I'm stunningly superficial. Chief, I look forward to you educating me, and the rest of America, and the rest of the foreign policy community, who have said, time and again, Arafat walked away from the best deal he could have gotten, and that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to --
BRZEZINSKI: These are not the facts. [They're] your opinions; you're repeating slogans. He did not walk away. What he said was, I'm going to take the proposal to all the Arab capitals and see how they react, because the proposals were controversial . . . The negotiations went on, even after Christmas, where Clinton and Arafat met, and they were going on in Taba in January, after Clinton was already leaving office. And then, the process got aborted. It's helpful to know a little bit about it.
As seen in the screencap, Mika was manifestly mortified.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Oh, God!
SCARBOROUGH: It's very exciting, chief, that you know things that the rest of the international community doesn't know.
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: If you're going to judge your knowledge by the sort of collective standards of 300 million people, then don't be surprised that you're embarrassed.
SCARBOROUGH: Actually, I'm not embarrassed. I read the New York Times and the Washington Post and Foreign Affairs. You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to throw those away, and anytime I have a question I'm going to call you up.
MIKA: No, no, no. Go to break and bring him back.
ZBIGNIEW: Let me explain it to you. T-a-b-a. Taba negotiations. Look them up. It will be helpful.
SCARBOROUGH: I'll do that, and I'll throw out papers and Foreign Affairs and everything else I read. Alright, more with the chief, when we come back, on the stunningly superficial Morning Joe. How you doing, Mika?
MIKA: I'm good, I'm good.
"Chief" is a reference to the nickname that, as Brzezinski explained earlier in the segment, his grandchildren had bestowed on him and that he willingly embraced. And when they returned . . .
SCARBOROUGH: Back with Dr. Brzezinski. Doctor, it's been wonderful speaking [cracks up] . . . Stunningly superficial: I love that!
MIKA: Aww. You've been called worse.
SCARBOROUGH: But I've never been called stunningly superficial: I like that.
MIKA [trying to paper things over]: No, but it was your view on the situation. Yeah. He's educating us.
SCARBOROUGH: I'm listening to the mainstream media too much.
ZBIGNIEW: [The man] and his views. We separate the two.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, thank you for being helpful, Mika.
MIKA: I'm just going to sit over here.