Morning Joe: 'Nothing Conservative' About Values Voter Summit

In a series of bizarre comments on Monday’s Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough made the case that the recent Values Voter Summit in Washington D.C. had no true conservatives present. In order to support this assertion, Joe extensively used liberal talking points, including ones about the GOP’s tax reform plan. Joe ended up claiming that Trump’s administration might raise the national debt up to $35 trillion, a statement for which he provided no evidence.

 

 

The panel decided to spend a significant amount of time talking about Steve Bannon and his speech to the gathering of social conservatives on Saturday. After playing a brief clip from Bannon’s talk, Joe and fellow MSNBC pundit Steve Schmidt went on a tear, not just about Bannon, but everybody who watched him speak at the conference:

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, Steve Schmidt, of course, you have, actually that man, Steve Schmidt, who actually mocked and ridiculed an American prisoner of war, an American hero who gave his life, his entire life to this country, who was given an opportunity to leave Hanoi, given an opportunity to, to, to, to stop being tortured, to stop being beaten so badly that he can't raise his arms above his shoulders to this day, and that's the person that Steve Bannon has been getting behind all of this time? [...] And by the way, another question. Who are these people at this so-called Voters Value Summit [sic] that give Steve Bannon a hero's welcome, and a standing ovation? Who are these people, and what is so important to them? What is so important to them that they would let their children see them standing up at something called a Voters Values Summit [sic], praising Steve Bannon? They will be known by their fruits, and Steve Bannon is what they are known by now. Donald Trump is what they are known by now. I don't know why, but I do know this: Trump and Bannon continue to declare war on the Republican Party; they can't be shocked, Steve, when the Republican Party and the Senators there decide not to vote for his latest stupid idea.

SCHMIDT: [...] Look, we've seen the hollowing out of the Republican Party intellectually, the destruction of the conservative movement, play out over many, many years now and I think we're at the end stage of it now. We have a political party that is unmoored from any type of principle. You could hold a gun to my head, and I couldn't tell you what the party stands for, what the policies are. You look at the health care debate that played out. It’s certainly the case that none of these members had any idea what they were voting on, what the bill did, how much it cost. We have tax cut proposals that we're going to fund on the national credit card, increasing the debt onto our children, onto our grandchildren. And so across the board, whether it is the President's rumblings about unraveling NAFTA, whether it's the, every Monday it seems now, louder and louder beats of the drums of war coming out of Washington D.C., it seems each Monday that as we start the week, the world's just a bit more dangerous, the administration a bit more unhinged, the President a bit more unraveled. And it seems that we're moving inexorably closer to great danger in this country as a result of these policies.

First, if Joe wanted to know who was at the Values Voter Summit, he probably should have learned the proper name of the conference. If he had done so, he would have easily been able to search and find that there were many different conservative groups present. This included the Heritage Foundation, Turning Point USA, the Family Research Council, the March for Life, and the Media Research Center, all of whom are united by a desire to promote conservative principles and make sure that conservative Americans have a voice in Washington. While Steve Bannon has his disagreements on economic and social policy with many conservatives who were at the summit, some of his beliefs, particularly with respect to immigration, Islam, foreign policy, and American sovereignty, are strongly held by many conservatives. If Joe really doesn’t know why Bannon’s positions on these subjects would be appealing to many Americans, then he needs to get out more and talk with some people who disagree with him.

Moving on to Schmidt and leaving aside his predictable remarks about Trump’s policies making the world more dangerous, his statement about the conservative movement being intellectually “hollow[ed] out” was quite odd. He may think that a more assertive brand of conservatism that demands policy results on scaling back the government and restoring the core moral foundations of Western civilization is intellectually empty, but current Republican congressional proposals to pass tax reform or failures to get health care legislation done are not evidence of that, nor is anything else that Schmidt mentioned in his confused rambling.

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Following up on Schmidt’s incoherent mess of an argument that conservatives and Republicans no longer stand for any principles, Scarborough took that line even further into absurdity:

[Y]ou look at the President, you look at Steve Bannon, you look at their ideology, those people there the other day, they can't say that they were standing up because they're conservatives. There's nothing conservative about what they stand for. There’s nothing conservative about the people they praise. There's nothing conservative about Steve Bannon. There's nothing conservative about Donald Trump. They're not for a restrained foreign policy. They're talking about the possibility of nuclear war. They have a Secretary of State coming out this weekend talking about: we'll talk to him until the bombs start dropping. Unprecedented in U.S. foreign policy history that that's the way you're talking if you're a Secretary of State. So there's no restraint there. There's no restraint at home. You look at the spending. You look at the projections, the national debt which doubled under Bush, which doubled under Obama. Now we're at 20 trillion dollars. It's gonna be up to 30 trillion, 35 trillion. They're breaking the bank. They're going to blow a hole in the national debt that's going to cripple generations' economic standing to come. There is nothing conservative, nothing restrained there.

It’s difficult to evaluate Scarborough’s claim that Trump’s policies or proposals would help drive up the national debt to $35 trillion because he provided no evidence for his assertion. However, we can look at the Congressional Budget Office’s latest 10-year budget projection from June of this year and see whether what Joe said generally matches up with our projected national debt. According to their estimates, the CBO has found that gross federal debt is indeed on track to rise to $30 trillion–by 2027. That would be three years after Trump leaves office (at best)! Even giving Scarborough the benefit of the doubt and assuming that Trump’s policies alone will result in a huge new amount of debt that will need to be paid down, how does Joe know that economic growth in the meantime won’t make up for lost revenue from decreased tax rates? Joe doesn’t even seem to realize that economics is a bit more complicated than: higher taxes = more revenue; lower taxes = less revenue.

After demonstrating his limited understanding of economics, Scarborough launched back into what must be his billionth tirade that Trump is a dictator:

You look at the power, Mark Halperin, that the President wants to seize himself. He's going after the press. He's going after the courts. He's acting like a totalitarian wannabe, an autocrat wannabe. He's got even insignificant Secretaries in his cabinet that are acting like they're walking to Buckingham Palace with flags being raised over their buildings when they walk in. They're flying private jets around like they're members of Led Zeppelin in 1971. This is a big, bloated administration, and there's nothing conservative about ‘em.

Later in the broadcast, Joe accused attendees at the Values Voter Summit of deifying Trump and reiterated his point that they are “certainly” not conservative:

SCARBOROUGH: Mika, you, again, we had a discussion earlier today about this so-called Voters Value Summit [sic] or Values Voter,-

BRZEZINSKI: [loud sigh of exasperation and disgust]

SCARBOROUGH: -it doesn't matter what you call them. They aren't what they say they are, praising Steve Bannon and praising Donald Trump. But they certainly are not conservative. Anybody giving a standing ovation for this man is not a conservative, certainly not a conservative in the classic sense, not a conservative that, envisioned by Reagan or Buckley. These people are not conservative standing. And yet now we have their President that they worship, Donald Trump, talking about a tax reform package that will blow a hole in the deficit and cause the national debt to explode even more. We’re, we’ve got a 20 trillion dollar debt. It is, it will suffocate growth for anybody under 45 or 50 for the next 30 or 40 years. And they're talking about digging us even deeper in that hole.

Once again, Joe just gave a boilerplate liberal talking point trying to paint the GOP tax proposal as a key factor in “blow[ing] a hole” in the debt and the economy with no evidence. If Scarborough wants to be taken seriously, he needs to provide at least some verifiable numbers to back up his statements.

A full transcript of the relevant segments follows below:

7:06 AM EST    

(...)

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, Steve Schmidt, of course, you have, actually that man, Steve Schmidt, who actually mocked and ridiculed an American prisoner of war, an American hero who gave his life, his entire life to this country, who was given an opportunity to leave Hanoi, given an opportunity to, to, to, to stop being tortured, to stop being beaten so badly that he can't raise his arms above his shoulders to this day, and that's the person that Steve Bannon has been getting behind all of this time? Him lecturing anybody about attacks against anybody or anything is rich, especially when you look at what Donald Trump said about Barack Obama when Barack Obama was President of the United States. Where was Steve Bannon then? And by the way, another question. Who are these people at this so-called Voters Value Summit [sic] that give Steve Bannon a hero's welcome, and a standing ovation? Who are these people, and what is so important to them? What is so important to them that they would let their children see them standing up at something called a Voters Values Summit [sic], praising Steve Bannon? They will be known by their fruits, and Steve Bannon is what they are known by now. Donald Trump is what they are known by now. I don't know why, but I do know this: Trump and Bannon continue to declare war on the Republican Party; they can't be shocked, Steve, when the Republican Party and the Senators there decide not to vote for his latest stupid idea.

STEVE SCHMIDT [MSNBC, POLITICAL ANALYST]: There's no question about it. You know, the non-partisan Cook Report now rates the chances of a Democratic House takeover at over 50% heading into this midterm. I think it bears mentioning, there's only been three elections in the last 118 years where the incumbent president's party has not lost seats in that first midterm. And of course, in our system, constitutionally, it's the House that has the ability to file articles of impeachment, and it would seem to me that if you are sitting around Donald Trump, the last thing in the world you would want to have is House Democrats with subpoena power and investigative power over this administration. But we may well see that coming. Look, we've seen the hollowing out of the Republican Party intellectually, the destruction of the conservative movement, play out over many, many years now and I think we're at the end stage of it now. We have a political party that is unmoored from any type of principle. You could hold a gun to my head, and I couldn't tell you what the party stands for, what the policies are. You look at the health care debate that played out. It’s certainly the case that none of these members had any idea what they were voting on, what the bill did, how much it cost. We have tax cut proposals that we're going to fund on the national credit card, increasing the debt onto our children, onto our grandchildren. And so across the board, whether it is the President's rumblings about unraveling NAFTA, whether it's the, every Monday it seems now, louder and louder beats of the drums of war coming out of Washington D.C., it seems each Monday that as we start the week, the world's just a bit more dangerous, the administration a bit more unhinged, the President a bit more unraveled. And it seems that we're moving inexorably closer to great danger in this country as a result of these policies.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Absolutely.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, and you loo-, you look at the President, you look at Steve Bannon, you look at their ideology, those people there the other day, they can't say that they were standing up because they're conservatives. There's nothing conservative about what they stand for. There’s nothing conservative about the people they praise. There's nothing conservative about Steve Bannon. There's nothing conservative about Donald Trump. They're not for a restrained foreign policy. They're talking about the possibility of nuclear war. They have a Secretary of State coming out this weekend talking about: we'll talk to him until the bombs start dropping. Unprecedented in U.S. foreign policy history that that's the way you're talking if you're a Secretary of State. So there's no restraint there. There's no restraint at home. You look at the spending. You look at the projections, the national debt which doubled under Bush, which doubled under Obama. Now we're at 20 trillion dollars. It's gonna be up to 30 trillion, 35 trillion. They're breaking the bank. They're going to blow a hole in the national debt that's going to cripple generations' economic standing to come. There is nothing conservative, nothing restrained there. You look at the power, Mark Halperin, that the President wants to seize himself. He's going after the press. He's going after the courts. He's acting like a totalitarian wannabe, an autocrat wannabe. He's got even insignificant Secretaries in his cabinet that are acting like they're walking to Buckingham Palace with flags being raised over their buildings when they walk in. They're flying private jets around like they're members of Led Zeppelin in 1971. This is a big, bloated administration, and there's nothing conservative about ‘em. And Mark, the thing that Schmidt said, Steve Schmidt said, that the last thing Donald Trump wants is a Democratic House that could issue articles of impeachment. I will tell you a close second would be a hostile Republican Senate that when those articles of impeachment pass the House, and they really have to look and see if Donald Trump's fit to be President of the United States, that, do you want Bob Corker? Do you want Susan Collins? Do you want Mitch McConnell? Do you want Ben Sasse? Do you want all these people that the President’s insulted, Jeff Flake, all these people that the President’s been hostile to passing judgment on this Republican President? He's not really a Republican. He's nothing ideologically. But he's, again, every day, Mark, he's declaring war against both sides, but mainly the Republican Senate.

(...)

8:39 AM

SCARBOROUGH: Mika, you, again, we had a discussion earlier today about this so-called Voters Value Summit [sic] or Values Voter,-

BRZEZINSKI: [loud sigh of exasperation and disgust]

SCARBOROUGH: -it doesn't matter what you call them. They aren't what they say they are, praising Steve Bannon and praising Donald Trump. But they certainly are not conservative. Anybody giving a standing ovation for this man is not a conservative, certainly not a conservative in the classic sense, not a conservative that, envisioned by Reagan or Buckley. These people are not conservative standing. And yet now we have their President that they worship, Donald Trump, talking about a tax reform package that will blow a hole in the deficit and cause the national debt to explode even more. We’re, we’ve got a 20 trillion dollar debt. It is, it will suffocate growth for anybody under 45 or 50 for the next 30 or 40 years. And they're talking about digging us even deeper in that hole.

(...)

 

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