Morning Joe Praises Jeff Flake For Characterizing Trump As 'Threat' to 'Our Children' and ‘Constitutional Norms’

On Wednesday’s Morning Joe, the panel spent most of the show effusively praising yesterday’s Senate floor speech by Jeff Flake lamenting the “indecency of our discourse,” “the coarseness of our leadership,” and “the compromise of our moral authority” (all referring to Trump) being “dangerous to a democracy.” Joe Scarborough and the rest of the liberal pundits excoriated Congressional Republicans for being too cowardly to stand up to Trump and repeatedly characterized Trump as a “threat to constitutional norms, societal norms, and our children.”

 

 

The Flake love-fest started from the top of the show as they immediately began talking about the Senator’s speech:

SCARBOROUGH: Far beyond a rebuke and this is a -- this shows the insanity that has overtaken the Republican Party. I always-

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] The White House.

SCARBOROUGH: -joke when people who would come and say: oh, you are liberal. I say: well, I had a 95% lifetime conservative rating, and I haven’t really changed any positions. Jeff Flake, who is supposed to be this big liberal, that some goons over at Fox News, I won't mention his name, are attacking. Jeff Flake has a 96% lifetime conservative rating. He is the conservative's conservative. He is the champion and has been his entire life of small government, of free trade. I mean, so, when Jeff Flake becomes, Mike, too liberal for your party, your party is headed towards the tar pits,-

MIKE BARNICLE: You know,-

SCARBOROUGH: [interrupting] -which is exactly what's happening here. And, we haven't even talked about Bob Corker.

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah.

BARNICLE: You know, Joe, it's hard to measure moments like this in terms of history because history is such a long haul. But it's not hard to measure this moment in terms of what is going on right now within the Republican Party. This is a slow slide of principled conservatism among Republicans that has been an honorable part of your party for many, many years, a slow slide of that principled conservatism into something that resembles a dumpster fire. I mean, what people like Bannon are doing within the Republican Party, the lack of cohesion, the lack of a voice within the Republican Party, other than people like Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, it's truly an astounding moment politically.

WILLIE GEIST: To your point, Joe, you have pro-Trump conservatives, conservatives defending New York Democrat Donald Trump against 96% approval rating conservative Jeff Flake. Things are turned upside-down.

SCARBOROUGH: He's been a conservative, by the way, his whole life, that had a 96% conservative rating-

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] And not Trump, we’re talking about Flake.

GEIST: [responding to Mika] Right.

BARNICLE: [responding to Mika] Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: -when Donald Trump was giving money to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and giving over $100,000 a year to the DNC and supporting pro-choice candidates and supporting pro-gun control candidates, Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, they've all been consistent.

Scarborough appears to be using the American Conservative Union’s evaluation of Jeff Flake for his repeated claims that Sen. Flake is a “conservative’s conservative” with a “96% lifetime conservative rating.” Unfortunately, it’s not really clear how the ACU came to that conclusion or what their metric for a conservative voting record is. (Note: ACU's own website puts Flake's lifetime rating at 93.07, not 96%.)

In contrast, Conservative Review’s scoring of Sen. Flake’s voting record as 68% conservative is far more clear in its evaluating process. It dings Flake for, among other things: helping the “Gang of 8” illegal immigrant amnesty efforts, funding Obama’s unconstitutional DACA amnesty and Planned Parenthood, and supporting Loretta Lynch’s nomination as Attorney General. Heritage Action (sister organization to the Heritage Foundation) similarly rated Flake’s Senate voting record as 67% conservative for many of the same reasons. In short, Scarborough’s assertion that Jeff Flake is a paragon of conservative virtues in Congress is not some indisputable conclusion.

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The panel continued praising Jeff Flake and other Republicans, including Sen. Bob Corker, Sen. John McCain, and former President George W. Bush, who have all spoken out against Trump recently:

GEIST: [Y]ou go from John McCain, to George W. Bush, to Bob Corker, Jeff Flake yesterday, these are Republicans who feel the need and are compelled to come out and re-affirm, not just conservative values, but American values, and say this is -- what’s happening right now is not who we are. I don't know, have we seen anything like this, nine months, ten months into a presidency, where members of his own party are coming out like this, lining up to criticize him this way?

SCARBOROUGH: We haven't. And what you’re seeing here, let's make no mistake of it, what we’re seeing here is the -- it’s political suicide. It's the coming end of the Republican Party where you are losing guys who are temperamentally moderate,-

BRZEZINSKI: Right.

SCARBOROUGH: -who have 96% conservative ratings and can win like states in Arizona, which are shifting, and they’re gonna be replaced by conspiracy theorists who are going to get blown away at the polls. And the same thing’s happening -- you’ve got Steve Bannon getting people that have been convicted of crimes, served time in jail, as his alternative. It is -- this is an act of nihilism. And the question is, Mika, what happens to the Republicans who are remaining there? Do they really give Donald Trump a standing ovation yesterday after saying he was a threat to the Constitution every day behind the scenes? As Jeff Flake said yesterday, the pull line yesterday, which we're gonna play a lot of it: this is not normal.      

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Well, and that's the point I wanted to make, exactly that. You talk about the threat to conservatism, the threat to the Republican Party and what damage Republicans are doing to themselves. What Jeff Flake is talking about, what he's pointing to, is a bigger problem: that these are truly dangerous times and that we're living in an age right now where things are beginning to slip away if we don't stand up for what is right.

After playing an extended two-minute clip of Flake’s speech, the panel went back to salivating over Flake’s chops as a supposed “Barry Goldwater,” “Ronald Reagan,” and “Russell Kirk” conservative, which was somewhat surreal to see on MSNBC. The gang then figured out the reason for Congressional Republicans’ general unwillingness to call Trump a menacing dictator: they must be cowards!

GEIST: But there is a reflex right now, and among high-ranking Republicans, even Mitch McConnell was sort of loathe to praise what Jeff Flake did yesterday, because they still believe they need to work with Donald Trump to get tax reform. If they want to get an agenda through, they believe they still need the President, so they’re gonna stick it aside.

BRZEZINSKI: Why can't you work with someone but also stick to what's right and sometimes tell them what they feel is wrong? What, what -- when did a relationship become a one-way street?

SCARBOROUGH: It is-

BRZEZINSKI: Why is working with President Trump having to declare some sort of loyalty oath and literally throw your entire self-respect down the toilet in order to work with him?

SCARBOROUGH: I’ve, I’ve, I’ve-

BRZEZINSKI: I've never seen a relationship like that that seems healthy. Ever.

SCARBOROUGH: I've never seen such cowardice, actually,-

BRZEZINSKI: Complete cowardice.

SCARBOROUGH: -among the leaders of the Republican Party. And it is cowardice. They believe that if they cross Donald Trump he may tweet something bad about them [starts laughing].

BRZEZINSKI: [mocking tone] Ooooooooh!

SCARBOROUGH: Hold on. Hold on.

BRZEZINSKI: Let's see.

SCARBOROUGH: You’ve got the most powerful,-

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting, softly] It’s not that bad.

SCARBOROUGH: -you’ve got the most powerful people in America afraid to stand up to the obscene behavior of Donald Trump, his threats, full frontal threats against the Constitution of the United States because they are afraid-

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] Afraid.

SCARBOROUGH: -of a tweet.

BARNICLE: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: And, and, and what they would find if they crossed Donald Trump and got in his face is that he would actually respect them more and they could get a better negotiation. But they're cowards.

(...)

SCARBOROUGH: We’re actually talking about a United States senator that they know, that Paul Ryan worked with, that was a fellow traveler, going on the Senate floor and saying that the President of the United States was a threat to not only societal norms, but constitutional norms. And Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell both said: oh, you guys just get distracted by Twitter. This has nothing to do with Twitter. This has to do with a United States senator delivering one of the most significant speeches on the Senate floor in decades, perhaps? In decades?

BARNICLE: Yeah, certainly.

(...)

SCARBOROUGH: If we’re -- if anybody -- if I am wrong, if I am being melodramatic here,-

BRZEZINSKI: You’re not.

SCARBOROUGH: -name me a more important Senate speech in the last decade, because this was the end of a movie. This was our Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, where you had a senator saying on the floor that the President of the United States in his party was a threat to constitutional norms, societal norms, and our children.

BRZEZINSKI: [softly] Yeah.

Scarborough should trust his instincts more. Saying that a speech characterizing Trump as a danger to democracy because he says too many mean words on Twitter is one of the greatest Senate speeches in “decades” is a bit melodramatic.

Perhaps Joe and Jeff will think of indecency destroying our country the next time Democrats call Republicans or conservatives Nazis, white supremacists, genocidal mass-murderers, or authoritarian dictators? Oh, wait:

SCARBOROUGH: So, somebody made a great point several months ago that Jeff Flake seemed to make yesterday, Kasie Hunt, and that is -- I mean, I remember during impeachment people going “oh, this is [makes whiny screeching sound]” -- I said: no, the Constitution actually planned this. So, we've got a game plan for impeachment, all right, just relax. And everything worked out. Whether it was a horrific mistake or not to impeach President Clinton, it worked out. The Constitution of the United States and our founders, Hamilton and Madison especially, they anticipated a tyrannical president. And they put in safeguards against a tyrannical president. What Jeff Flake pointed out yesterday, in so many word though, is: they did not anticipate an obsequious Congress in the face of a tyrannical president. And that’s what was so extraordinary about Jeff Flake’s speech yesterday. He said, like Bob Corker, publicly what the obsequious, what the timid, what the frightened say privately every day.

Never mind.

Below is a transcript of the key segments with timestamps:

6:02 AM EST

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Far beyond a rebuke and this is a -- this shows the insanity that has overtaken the Republican Party. I always-

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] The White House.

SCARBOROUGH: -joke when people who would come and say: oh, you are liberal. I say: well, I had a 95% lifetime conservative rating, and I haven’t really changed any positions. Jeff Flake, who is supposed to be this big liberal, that some goons over at Fox News, I won't mention his name, are attacking. Jeff Flake has a 96% lifetime conservative rating. He is the conservative's conservative. He is the champion and has been his entire life of small government, of free trade. I mean, so, when Jeff Flake becomes, Mike, too liberal for your party, your party is headed towards the tar pits,-

MIKE BARNICLE: You know,-

SCARBOROUGH: [interrupting] -which is exactly what's happening here. And, we haven't even talked about Bob Corker.

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah.

BARNICLE: You know, Joe, it's hard to measure moments like this in terms of history because history is such a long haul. But it's not hard to measure this moment in terms of what is going on right now within the Republican Party. This is a slow slide of principled conservatism among Republicans that has been an honorable part of your party for many, many years, a slow slide of that principled conservatism into something that resembles a dumpster fire. I mean, what people like Bannon are doing within the Republican Party, the lack of cohesion, the lack of a voice within the Republican Party, other than people like Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, it's truly an astounding moment politically.

WILLIE GEIST: To your point, Joe, you have pro-Trump conservatives, conservatives defending New York Democrat Donald Trump against 96% approval rating conservative Jeff Flake. Things are turned upside-down.

SCARBOROUGH: He's been a conservative, by the way, his whole life, that had a 96% conservative rating-

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] And not Trump, we’re talking about Flake.

GEIST: [responding to Mika] Right.

BARNICLE: [responding to Mika] Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: -when Donald Trump was giving money to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and giving over $100,000 a year to the DNC and supporting pro-choice candidates and supporting pro-gun control candidates, Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, they've all been consistent.

GEIST: And this is the end of eight or nine days. We’re living in extraordinary times, we all know that. But this is -- the last eight or nine days especially, if you start with John McCain's speech in Philadelphia and go forward, I'm only talking about Republicans, this doesn't include Barack Obama and Joe Biden,-

BARNICLE: [interjecting] President Bush's speech.

GEIST: -Joe, right, you go from John McCain, to George W. Bush, to Bob Corker, Jeff Flake yesterday, these are Republicans who feel the need and are compelled to come out and re-affirm, not just conservative values, but American values, and say this is -- what’s happening right now is not who we are. I don't know, have we seen anything like this, nine months, ten months into a presidency, where members of his own party are coming out like this, lining up to criticize him this way?

SCARBOROUGH: We haven't. And what you’re seeing here, let's make no mistake of it, what we’re seeing here is the -- it’s political suicide. It's the coming end of the Republican Party where you are losing guys who are temperamentally moderate,-

BRZEZINSKI: Right.

SCARBOROUGH: -who have 96% conservative ratings and can win like states in Arizona, which are shifting, and they’re gonna be replaced by conspiracy theorists who are going to get blown away at the polls. And the same thing’s happening -- you’ve got Steve Bannon getting people that have been convicted of crimes, served time in jail, as his alternative. It is -- this is an act of nihilism. And the question is, Mika, what happens to the Republicans who are remaining there? Do they really give Donald Trump a standing ovation yesterday after saying he was a threat to the Constitution every day behind the scenes? As Jeff Flake said yesterday, the pull line yesterday, which we're gonna play a lot of it: this is not normal.         

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Well, and that's the point I wanted to make, exactly that. You talk about the threat to conservatism, the threat to the Republican Party and what damage Republicans are doing to themselves. What Jeff Flake is talking about, what he's pointing to, is a bigger problem: that these are truly dangerous times and that we're living in an age right now where things are beginning to slip away if we don't stand up for what is right.

(...)

6:13 AM

GEIST: But there is a reflex right now, and among high-ranking Republicans, even Mitch McConnell was sort of loathe to praise what Jeff Flake did yesterday, because they still believe they need to work with Donald Trump to get tax reform. If they want to get an agenda through, they believe they still need the President, so they’re gonna stick it aside.

BRZEZINSKI: Why can't you work with someone but also stick to what's right and sometimes tell them what they feel is wrong? What, what -- when did a relationship become a one-way street?

SCARBOROUGH: It is-

BRZEZINSKI: Why is working with President Trump having to declare some sort of loyalty oath and literally throw your entire self-respect down the toilet in order to work with him?

SCARBOROUGH: I’ve, I’ve, I’ve-

BRZEZINSKI: I've never seen a relationship like that that seems healthy. Ever.

SCARBOROUGH: I've never seen such cowardice, actually,-

BRZEZINSKI: Complete cowardice.

SCARBOROUGH: -among the leaders of the Republican Party. And it is cowardice. They believe that if they cross Donald Trump he may tweet something bad about them [starts laughing].

BRZEZINSKI: [mocking tone] Ooooooooh!

SCARBOROUGH: Hold on. Hold on.

BRZEZINSKI: Let's see.

SCARBOROUGH: You’ve got the most powerful,-

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting, softly] It’s not that bad.

SCARBOROUGH: -you’ve got the most powerful people in America afraid to stand up to the obscene behavior of Donald Trump, his threats, full frontal threats against the Constitution of the United States because they are afraid-

BRZEZINSKI: [interjecting] Afraid.

SCARBOROUGH: -of a tweet.

BARNICLE: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: And, and, and what they would find if they crossed Donald Trump and got in his face is that he would actually respect them more and they could get a better negotiation. But they're cowards.

(...)

6: 16 AM

SCARBOROUGH: We’re actually talking about a United States senator that they know, that Paul Ryan worked with, that was a fellow traveler, going on the Senate floor and saying that the President of the United States was a threat to not only societal norms, but constitutional norms. And Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell both said: oh, you guys just get distracted by Twitter. This has nothing to do with Twitter. This has to do with a United States senator delivering one of the most significant speeches on the Senate floor in decades, perhaps? In decades?

BARNICLE: Yeah, certainly.

SCARBOROUGH: Declar-, hold-

BRZEZINSKI: [interrupting] And not that it matters, but Paul Ryan was talking about Corker, just missing all this, not that it matters.

SCARBOROUGH: If we’re -- if anybody -- if I am wrong, if I am being melodramatic here,-

BRZEZINSKI: You’re not.

SCARBOROUGH: -name me a more important Senate speech in the last decade, because this was the end of a movie. This was our Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, where you had a senator saying on the floor that the President of the United States in his party was a threat to constitutional norms, societal norms, and our children.

BRZEZINSKI: [softly] Yeah.

(...)

6:22 AM

SCARBOROUGH: Go to church on Sunday. Pray for this country and pray that we actually get some leaders that your children can look up to, ‘cause we don't have ‘em right now.

(...)

7:04 AM

SCARBOROUGH: So, somebody made a great point several months ago that Jeff Flake seemed to make yesterday, Kasie Hunt, and that is -- I mean, I remember during impeachment people going “oh, this is [makes whiny screeching sound]” -- I said: no, the Constitution actually planned this. So, we've got a game plan for impeachment, all right, just relax. And everything worked out. Whether it was a horrific mistake or not to impeach President Clinton, it worked out. The Constitution of the United States and our founders, Hamilton and Madison especially, they anticipated a tyrannical president. And they put in safeguards against a tyrannical president. What Jeff Flake pointed out yesterday, in so many word though, is: they did not anticipate an obsequious Congress in the face of a tyrannical president. And that’s what was so extraordinary about Jeff Flake’s speech yesterday. He said, like Bob Corker, publicly what the obsequious, what the timid, what the frightened say privately every day.

(...)


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