Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.
Lives in Granbury, Texas.
Pilot, parrots, dogs, tennis.
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Talk about your Hobson's Choice . . . on today's Morning Joe, Nicolle Wallace, citing GOP consultants, suggested that--other than social conservatives--Republicans concerned with foreign policy should consider supporting Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Hillary supporter Harold Ford, Jr. could be heard chiming in with a "well said."
Wallace was echoing the argument laid out by Joe Scarborough: that on a range of issues from foreign intervention to Israel, taxing the rich to breaking up the banks, Clinton's positions are closer to those of the GOP establishment than Trump's. But Joe, Nicolle and those Republican consultants are forgetting one overriding concern . . .
It hurts to discover your political hero is just another sell-out hack. And so it was for Mika Brzezinski today, confronted with the reality that her idol, Elizabeth Warren, whom she was promoting for president as early as 2013, has apparently sold out in return for a spot in a a prospective Hillary Clinton administration.
Today's Morning Joe rolled a clip of Fauxcahontas repeatedly dodging Norah O'Donnell's straightforward question: should Hillary release the transcripts of her Wall Street speeches? Lieawatha gives the lamest of non-answers, saying "the candidates are doing what they should do in a primary." Whatever. Said a disillusioned Mika: "she was completely circumventing the question. I'm not sure I would have continued the interview and you guys know that I'm good on that. But that was no answer. There must be some negotiation under way."
On today's With All Due Respect, NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg broke some news, saying she thought President Obama "got a message from Republicans via backchannels that they would probably move this [Supreme Court] nomination after the presidential election."
Let's game-plan this out. If it means that Senate Republicans would move to confirm President Obama's pick of Merrick Garland even if a Republican were elected president, it would be a huge backstab of the Republican base. But if Republicans would only move Garland if a Dem wins, thus depriving Hillary or whomever of the chance to nominate an unreconstruced radical, then it could be a crafty maneuver. Totenberg added that once Obama got such a concession, Dems would "work very hard" to get other concessions, forcing a hearing and a vote.
Riffing off a clip of Ted Cruz welcoming Marco Rubio followers to his fold, Mika Brzezinski went on an extended critique of Cruz's mannerisms on today's Morning Joe.
Steve Schmidt joined in, accusing Cruz of "oozing insincerity." Joe Scarborough pretended not to know what the others were talking about, facetiously wondering "what are you talking about? You didn't think that was from the heart?"
When it comes to understanding Jewish neo-cons, Chris Matthews doesn't know a bagel from a hole in the ground . . . Speaking on MSNBC after Marco Rubio announced the suspension of his campaign, Matthews claimed that neo-cons like Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol and John Podhoretz will find Ted Cruz unacceptable and will instead support Hillary Clinton.
Let's put it this way: the day any of the above-named neo-cons endorses Clinton over Cruz, I will gladly send Matthews 10 lbs. of the finest lox and throw in a tub of first-class gefilte fish. Feh on your flawed prediction, Chris. Has Matthews been following any of the above lately? True, they detest Trump. But there's no reason they couldn't support Cruz. And Kristol has openly spoken of supporting a third-party conservative candidate if Trump's the GOP candidate. Speaking as something of a Jewish neo-con myself, this NewsBuster's odds of supporting Hillary over Cruz are approximately equal to those of me eating a ham sandwich at the Wailing Wall at high noon on Yom Kippur.
Has Al Hunt ever heard of de mortuis nil nisi bonum? Apparently not. On the day she was laid to rest, Hunt found it necessary to repeatedly assert that Nancy Reagan "was not a good mother."
Interviewed by John Heilemann on today's With All Due Respect, here was Hunt: "she was a formidable person. Sometimes unpleasant, not a great mother, but she loved her Ronnie and had great political instincts . . . She was not a good mother. I think actually Patti Davis, as moving as she was today, if you really listened to it, all was clear: she was not a good mother. She was devoted to Ronald Reagan, and anything that got in the way was a distraction."
Joe Scarborough usually sets the tone on Morning Joe. But today, Mika Brzezinski took the lead, booting Florida Governor Rick Scott from the show for his refusal to comment substantively on Donald Trump's statement yesterday that "Islam hates us."
As Scott repeated various bland statements about Florida, Mika could be heard muttering "wrap it" and "no, no." After a final try at getting Scott to respond, Mika curtly announced "we will move on now. Thanks." When the show returned after a break, Mika excoriated Scott, calling his performance "weak, sniveling political wavering," saying he was "pathetic" and that he shoudn't be governor if he couldn't answer the question.
Laugh line of the morning comes from Cokie Roberts' Wikipedia entry: "Some have questioned Roberts' objectivity as a journalist." Some, indeed. On today's Morning Joe, NPR-ite Roberts, her eyes flashing with anger, asked Donald Trump whether he was "proud" of promoting racism among schoolkids: "There have been incidents of children, white children, pointing to their darker skinned classmates and saying 'you'll be deported when Donald Trump is president.' . . . Are you proud of that?"
Calling it a "very nasty question," Trump replied "I'm not proud of it because I didn't even hear of it. And I don't like it at all when I hear about it." Roberts said that it's been reported in many papers, presumably alluding to articles such as this and this. You've got to read the transcript and view the video to get the full effect. Cokie's doing it for . . . the children.
Mark Halperin has ripped the MSM for its "outrageous" treatment of Bernie Sanders. Calling the media "lemmings," Halperin, seconded by John Heilemann, said on today's With All Due Respect, that the Hillary campaign has ginned up "faux outrage" over a number of Sanders' statements, and that the media has been "following it around," treating minor matters like "major contretemps."
Halperin also had a warning for Republicans: 'just wait until a general election if Hillary Clinton is the nominee at how much faux outrage her campaign shows over whoever the Republicans nominate." That comes as no surprise, but still refreshing to hear Halperin say it.
As Don Imus might say, there was a "tension convention" on the set of today''s Morning Joe. Joe Scarborough and Nicolle Wallace got into it over Marco Rubio's future. Scarborough repeatedly argued that Rubio should get out before the Florida primary, or risk ruining his political future. Wallace made the case that Rubio has the right to remain in as much as Kasich, both their strategies being to survive to a hopefully brokered convention.
Scarborough would surely say his was simply the voice of political reason. But watch the clip, and see if there isn't something more at work. As for Wallace, the strain in her expression as Joe harangued her spoke volumes. At one point Joe snapped at Nicolle: "get your Marco Rubio badge off, okay?" To which Wallace could have but didn't respond "quit your anti-Rubio crusade, Joe."
Members of the Morning Joe panel got a good laugh today as Al Hunt reported on anguish in establishment GOP ranks. Hunt said that he "was at an event Saturday night with a lot of establishment Republicans and some Rubio people and despair so understates the case. [ Laughter ] I -- really, I've never seen anything like it. There was a lot of heavy drinking" after that.
A bit later, Hunt imagined a scenario in which someone informs Mitch McConnell that they had figured out a way to stop Trump: with Ted Cruz, "at which point Mitch has a nervous breakdown." Again, laughter from the panel.
Whatever you think of Donald Trump, is it fair to play the full Nazi card against him? David Brooks--the fellow who was so impressed by the crease in Obama's pants--apparently thinks so.
On today's Meet the Press, commenting on images of Trump supporters at a rally responding to his request to raise their right hands to pledge to vote for him, Brooks said "if we're going to get Trump, we might as well get the Nuremberg rallies to go with it." Have a look at the photos below and compare the Trump rally to a real Nuremberg rally. Really, Chuck and Dave?
On today's Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough ridiculed his employer, MSNBC, for "bowing and scraping" to then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008. Along the way, he did an hilarious impression of Keith Olbermann's faux-Churchillian tones, seeing racism on the rise whenever Hillary won a primary, and "calling George W. Bush a Nazi every day."
Scarborough's comments came in the course of discussing the way that, according to Joe, Fox News has shifted its favor from Marco Rubio to Donald Trump. Scarborough found that shocking, "because, my God, I've never seen a candidate treated better by any network, well, other than MSNBC bowing and scraping to Barack Obama in '08
Members of the Morning Joe panel tried their best to block and tackle for Hillary given the revelation that the person who set up her server has been granted immunity. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey said the most troubling issue is the way things got from the SIPRnet--a Pentagon system used for exchanging Secret information--to Hillary's server.
Mukasey explained that someone must have taken something off SIPRnet and either transcribed it or summarized it and then put it on her server. Politico's Jim VandeHei suggested hopefully that if charges are brought it would be against the "staffers" who did that, rather than Hillary. Mukasey batted that away: "if she ordered that that be done . . . if she knew that that was the way it was being done, that it is being done on her order, that's a problem."
I'm guessing most NewsBusters readers could care less about "diversity" when it comes to choosing Justices of the Supreme Court. That they'd be thrilled if all nine justices looked, for example, like Clarence Thomas--so long as all shared his philosophy of judicial restraint and original intent.
On today's With All Due Respect, Mark Halperin interviewed Planned Parent president Cecile Richards. Richards declined to name someone she'd like to see nominated to the Court but did say she was "extremely grateful" for the addition to the Court of Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. That prompted Halperin to observe: "regardless of ideology I think we can all agree it's great for the Court to look more like America." Richards piously agreed: "absolutely: without a doubt." Baloney: ideology is all to Richards. She would fight tooth and nail against an appointee who looked like Sotomayor but voted like the late, great Antonin Scalia. Similarly, she'd be all in for a male person of pallor, so long as he was pro Roe.
Morning Joe, in the person of Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist, took a victory lap this morning on the occasion of Donald Trump's impressive Super Tuesday victories. The theme of the opening half-hour: we told you so. Their point: from the day he announced his candidacy, the Morning Joe team took Trump seriously and said he could be a real factor. In contrast, the poobahs of politics and media made fools of themselves predicting Trump's imminent demise.
In an amusing spike-the-ball display, Morning Joe went to the length of producing a montage of its greatest hits, juxtaposing clips of MJ members being respectful of Trump's chances with clips of various talking heads writing him off. Scarborough repeatedly emphasized that it was not a matter of rooting for or preferring Trump--to the contrary he said he had been a Jeb supporter and now leans Kasich--but simply seeing things for what they were and are.
Hopefully they'll wait till the plane lands . . . New York Times reporters should be thrown off the Trump plane. That's what Steve Schmidt and Joe Scarborough said on today's Morning Joe. Via a Gail Collins column in the Times and in conversations with BuzzFeed EIC Ben Smith, portions of Donald Trump's ostensibly off-the-record interview with the Times' editorial board in January were leaked.
Said Schmidt: "if I was running the Donald Trump campaign, every New York Times reporter on that plane would be off of it until and unless they clarify the attributional policies of the newspaper." Seconded Scarborough: "every single New York Times reporter should be kicked off the plane, should not be given press access--anything--until the editor of the New York Times editor explains to the candidate and explains to the readers exactly what happened here."
If Joe Scarborough were ever, as some have claimed, in the the tank for Donald Trump, he has officially climbed out as of this morning. On today's Morning Joe, reacting to the clip of Jake Tapper's interview, Scarborough called Trump's refusal to forthrightly reject the support of Klansman David Duke "disqualifying."
A bit later, Joe and Mika Brzezinski said that if Trump fails today to clean up the situation, Chris Christie "cannot stay with Donald Trump's campaign."
"Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, fellow Americans: Vice-President Elizabeth Warren will be delivering the Inaugural Address here today, because President Hillary Clinton has been, uh, unavoidably detained . . ."
On MSNBC's coverage of the South Carolina primary this evening, Chuck Todd actually said that if Hillary Clinton is charged with a misdemeanor concerning her emails, it will have "no impact" on her presidential prospects.
We've used the metaphor before: this wasn't softball--it was T-ball. In the course of a lengthy interview that aired on Morning Joe today, a sympathetic Joe Scarborough asked Hillary Clinton: "the question is why doesn't anything stick to [Trump] whereas everything seems to stick to Hillary Clinton? It's got to be frustrating for you to see sort of the double standard."
Double-standard. Got to be frustrating. Kleenex: STAT! Mika Brzezinski seconded Scarborough's shoulder-to-cry-on: "if you said something in 1994 someone would hold up a sign and take it out of context in front of a speech you're doing." Aww.