There was grudging praise on today's Morning Joe for President Trump's restraint in attacking Iran.
In a light-hearted moment, when Donny Deutsch praised Trump's restraint, Joe Scarborough jumped in to clarify that Donny was only referring to military matters, not other things. Joe didn't want Donny to get "killed" on Twitter for appearing to praise Trump too broadly.
On a serious note, Scarborough went on say that although Trump "lies," his lies are not "deadly," unlike those other presidents have told. Scarborough pointed to JFK and LBJ. They reportedly both lied about the winnability of the Vietnam War, and as a consequence, 57,000 Americans died.
Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post joined in the praise of Trump's restraint.
DONNY DEUTSCH: Isn’t it ironic how we talk about always there’s no grownups around Trump, yet the people around him, the Boltons, Pompeos, are saying let’s go, let’s go [i.e., let's attack Iran] and this is the guy putting a yellow light up there. And look, I even said, he's capable of anything: starting a war to save his presidency. But, once again, he is really demonstrating restraint here.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You mean, just so you don’t get killed on Twitter today, you’re talking about in the military realm.
DEUTSCH: Yes. Yes.
SCARBOROUGH: He's surrounded by people that would have five wars going.
DEUTSCH: As I said, that is the ultimate irony of his presidency, and him as a man.
Deutsch wondered out loud if the military sort of faked they were going to attack -- engaged in "a little theater" -- to make Trump look good by appearing to show restraint. Scarborough shot that notion down. "The Pentagon is angry this morning. As Colin Powell once said, you don't use our men and women as toy soldiers. That's exactly what happened." Then he added:
SCARBOROUGH: One of my children asked me about all the lies of Trump, and how devastating it was. And I said it is terrible. It’s terrible that he’s lying and that he’s setting this example. And they say, well, what are the consequences of the lies, and I told them, I went through all of it.
And I said, but you know what, though? I said, one thing that is interesting, and I brought up war. I'd just seen Ken Burns's just extraordinary documentary on Vietnam. I said, we have had presidents who have lied before, and the results have been far more extreme. John Kennedy in 1963, Ken Burns picked up on a tape, talking about Vietnam, saying we could never win there, the people hate us there, but we can’t pull out until after the election -- we'd get destroyed politically. LBJ In ‘64, right after he got in there, saying there’s no no way we can ever win that war but we can't get out, either. Fifty-seven [thousand] young Americans died because those presidents lied to the American public, saying that they could win.
Again, I’m not defending Donald Trump here. I am just saying that presidents have lied, and the impact has been deadly, and some would say far more extreme, and I think we could, of course he’ll probably launch a huge attack tonight, but we can at least be grateful that this president's instinct is, when it comes to war, is less, not more.
EUGENE ROBINSON: And I’m grateful for that and so I’ll join the chorus on that.