There are days when you really wonder why anyone thinks "Morning Joe" is different in ideology than the evening talk shows on MSNBC. On Monday, Joe Scarborough went after both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum for coming at President Obama from the right on Afghanistan. Joe comes from the left: Obama sent too many troops, listened too much to the generals, and Republicans want to surrender the idea of civilian control of the military.
Santorum was "wrong on all counts," said Scarborough. "The President's mistake was not creating a timeline that was two or three years off. It was tripling the number of troops in Afghanistan. And when he talks about winning the war -- headline for all Republicans and Democrats that want to continue to fight this war -- we won the war."
We killed Osama bin Laden and routed al-Qaeda, he said. Scarborough doesn't care if the Taliban took over again: "The Taliban doesn't want to blow up buildings in Washington, D.C., or New York or Charlotte or Atlanta. They want to be left alone to run their country by second century standards. We should let them."
The show ran tape of Romney saying he wanted more input from the commanders on the ground, and Scarborough thought that was odd:
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I - before I take a stand on a particular course of action, I want to get the input from the people who are there. General Allen is going to be coming to Washington and testifying this week about what the conditions are. I think it's very plain to see that the conditions there are not going very well. And – and I lay part of the blame for that on the lack of leadership on the part of our President.
SCARBOROUGH: I just don't get that. The president, Willie, has given -- and I certainly am not defending the President of the United States on Afghanistan. I'm going at him the other way. I think he listened to the Generals too much. He tripled the number of troops. And there are people in the administration that will say i was telling them privately off the record the same thing that we've been saying on the record. That Generals do what Generals should do. They ask for as many troops as they can possibly get because their job is to rout everybody on the ground. But sometimes, Willie, well, a Commander in Chief has to listen to himself, and listen to the civilian side of things. I mean, I – I don't know -- what is this, Willie, with all of these Republican candidates that are saying, 'Oh, we've got to let the Generals decide the number of troops that we're putting in Afghanistan and how many more decades we stay there.' I thought civilians were supposed to run the military under the Constitution of the United States.
Willie Geist picked up the leftist line from there. He sounded like the John Kerry Democrats in 2004, complaining about how Republicans exploit the emotions of the 9/11 attack to justify their unending wars:
WILLIE GEIST: Well, it certainly is not a profile in courage or a profile in great leadership. If anything good has come out of the last month or so, what's happened in Afghanistan, starting with the Qur'an burning and this horrible incident last weekend with the staff sergeant, it's that we put Afghanistan center stage and we're talking about it. And John McCain was on "Meet the Press" yesterday, and laid out the case again that I think you and I have listened to over and over from people who have come onto the set, which is that we cannot leave because if we leave, the Taliban comes back and with the Taliban comes Al Qaeda. Uh, the case Senator McCain made yesterday was kind of that emotional case again that, remember, that's where 9/11 came from. Wink. You don't want another 9/11, do you? The problem with that is, they're going to come back whenever we leave. The Taliban lives there. They are going to be back. They're going to grow again. Al Qaeda may come back there. So do you stay another five years or ten years or another twenty years? Who's to say when it's time to go home? That's the problem with that open-ended argument.
These fellows are picking up David Gregory's pacifist posturing from Sunday, dictating that "realism" equals immediate withdrawal -- which sounds a lot like Kerry in 2004 -- and Obama in 2007 and 2008. That old song never loses its luster at MSNBC.