Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe: Supporting the Iran Deal a ‘No-Brainer’

On the August 10 edition of Morning Joe, host Mika Brzezinski criticized opponents of the Iran deal and defended President Obama’s harsh rhetoric. She claimed that supporting the deal was a “no-brainer” because, in her mind, there are no alternatives. The Morning Joe personality lauded the president for “being sharp” in trying to gain support for the deal. 

Brzezinski continued by backing up the president’s assertion that the decision to support deal is a simple one: “I know you call him vilifying, but he's saying it's an easy choice because the question is, what are the options if the deal gets voted down? What happens if it doesn't go through? Not, what deal could you have written six months ago?”

The other members on the Morning Joe panel were generally critical of Brzezinski’s assessment. Joe Scarborough found it stunning that the president would demonize opponents by comparing them to Iranian hardliners: 

We talked about this in Washington, where this president actually compared Republicans to the hardliners in Iran chanting death to America and said – he keeps saying, Richard, this is such an easy call to make. You have Angus King, who came out actually in support, saying it was the single toughest decision he has ever made. And the vilification of Chuck Schumer over the weekend, and I would say this even if he came out on the other side of the bill, [is] deeply, deeply offensive. Suggesting that a call this close for people who have supported not only Israel but the defense of this nation and legitimately believe that it puts our nation at risk and allies at risk. To delegitimize him this way is pretty stunning.

Mark Halperin of Bloomberg noted how “the president doesn’t think it’s a close call. He’s not pretending on that point.” Scarborough thought it was "frightening that he [President Obama] can’t see how other people think.” 

Toward the end of the segment, Brzezinski boldly stated she was “asking the only correct question here.” The former Florida congressman disagreed: “The president set up false choices for the past year saying it's this deal or war. He negotiated a horrible deal and, yes, guess what? There are people, if they were not as closed minded as the president on this issue, that could see a way forward even if the deal were not passed.” 

In response, Brzezinski sarcastically said, “[t]hat sounds really safe. Sounds like it's good for our country.” Scarborough retorted: “Actually it is much better for our country than going into a bad deal with a commander in chief that is so blind to the dangers of this deal that he vilifies the top Democrat in the United States senate and claims that people that oppose the deal are in concert with terrorists in Iran.”

The relevant portions of the transcript are below. 

MSNBC
Morning Joe
August 10, 2015

JOE SCARBOROUGH: We talked about this in Washington, where this president actually compared Republicans to the hardliners in Iran chanting death to America and said – he keeps saying, Richard, this is such an easy call to make. You have Angus King, who came out actually in support, saying it was the single toughest decision he has ever made. And the vilification of Chuck Schumer over the weekend, and I would say this even if he came out on the other side of the bill, [is] deeply, deeply offensive. Suggesting that a call this close for people who have supported not only Israel but the defense of this nation and legitimately believe that it puts our nation at risk and allies at risk. To delegitimize him this way is pretty stunning. 

[...]

MARK HALPERIN: Just to be clear, the president doesn't think it's a close call. He's not pretending on that point. 

SCARBOROUGH: No, he doesn’t.

HALPERIN: He thinks it's an obvious vote. 

SCARBOROUGH: Which makes it even more frightening that he can’t see how other people think –  

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Let me push back on that, please. 

HALPERIN: The opponents still need an enormous percentage of the remaining undecided Democrats in the senate and in the house. 

RICHARD HAASS: Getting beyond the politics, even if this thing does come into effect, this is going to be a major national security challenge for decades to deal not just with Iran and its future nuclear capability, but the nuclear programs of several of its neighbors. This is going to be – this is now front and center for not just this president, not just his successor, but his successor's successor. 

BRZEZINSKI: So, when you ask opponents of the deal, well, what's the other option? They back up six months and say the deal they would have struck. No, Richard. What's the other option now if this deal is voted down, what will happen? That's what the choice is. 

HAASS: At this point, I do tend to agree with you. And the choices are narrow. And if this deal is voted down, we don't quite know what exactly Iran will do, but all the odds are that Iran would do more in the nuclear area and it would be very hard to put together the sanctions.  

BRZEZINSKI: This is why it's no-brainer. This is why the president is being sharp, and I know you call him vilifying, but he's saying it's an easy choice because the question is, what are the options if the deal gets voted down? What happens if it doesn't go through? Not, what deal could you have written six months ago? 

[...]

STEVE RATTNER: No, but Mika is asking the right questions. 

BRZEZINSKI: I'm asking the only correct question here. 

SCARBOROUGH: No, actually you're not. 

BRZEZINSKI: Yes, I am. 

SCARBOROUGH: The president set up false choices for the past year saying it's this deal or war. He negotiated a horrible deal and, yes, guess what? There are people, if they were not as closed minded as the president on this issue, that could see a way forward even if the deal were not passed. 

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah, okay. That sounds really safe. Sounds like it's good for our country. 

SCARBOROUGH: Actually it is much better for our country than going into a bad deal with a commander in chief that is so blind to the dangers of this deal that he vilifies the top Democrat in the United States senate and claims that people that oppose the deal are in concert with terrorists in Iran. That is a president using his bully pulpit the wrong way. 

NB Daily Iran Morning Joe Foreign Policy Mika Brzezinski Joe Scarborough Mark Halperin

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