Ask conservatives to name key issues defining contemporary conservatism, and opposing abortion is sure to be among them.
Which brings us to Joe Scarborough. The Morning Joe host regularly claims that he continues to be a conservative. He did so in particularly emphatic manner on today's Morning Joe. He's upset that pro-lifers would stick to supporting Herschel Walker in the U.S. Senate race in Georgia.
Scarborough repeatedly described himself as "very conservative," and even "hard-core conservative." Scarborough did stop short of Mitt Romney's characterization of himself as "severely conservative." He said to Charlie Sykes, "You and I. We are both very conservative."
But in seeking to prove his case, Scarborough mentioned just two issues: crime and immigration. He claimed he could continue to "go down the list" of issues on which he is "very conservative"—but didn't.
Glaringly absent from his list: being pro-life.
Scarborough's omission was particularly telling. Given Morning Joe's obsession with the Herschel Walker story, and the allegation that he once paid for a girlfriend's abortion, that issue has been front and center on the show.
And indeed, the segment during which Scarborough asserted that he was "very conservative" was devoted to a denunciation of a column in the Washington Post by Henry Olsen predicting that the allegation that Herschel Walker once paid for a girlfriend's abortion "won't faze Republicans." Olsen's argument was grounded in political pragmatism [emphasis added]:
"The choice between Warnock and Walker isn’t a hard one for Republicans or pro-lifers. Warnock is a solidly progressive Democrat who has largely backed his party’s agenda. That’s disqualifying for any partisan Republican. Warnock also unreservedly supports abortion rights, even reiterating his support for them in responding to Monday’s bombshell report. Walker could be a major disappointment to his voters as a senator, but he couldn’t possibly be as problematic to them as Warnock."
So, to quote Karine Jean-Pierre, during the segment, abortion was at Scarborough's "top of mind."
So why do you think Scarborough markedly omitted abortion from his list of conservative credentials? The answer could well be be that, as we noted yesterday, although as a congressman representing the conservative Florida Panhandle he had a perfect pro-life record:
In recent times, though, Scarborough has sounded more like a Planned Parenthood spokesman, as he has repeatedly bemoaned the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Scarborough has also been an ardent advocate for tighter gun control. So he couldn't very well cite support for the Second Amendment to prove his conservative bona fides. So that issue didn't appear on his list of conservative positions, either.
It's weird that Sykes and Scarborough agreed that it's somehow immoral to back a man who's changed his opinions like Donald Trump, when it's Donald Trump that has caused these two men to change their opinions so dramatically that they are acceptable to MSNBC's hard-core Democrat audience.
On Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough failing to include abortion on a list of issues supposedly proving that he is "very conservative" was sponsored in part by Subway, Tide, and GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Nucala.
Here's the transcript.
7:09 am EDT
CHARLIE SYKES: The new ethos of the right, including commentators in the Washington Post like Henry Olsen, that politics is too important for character to matter. Politics is too important for right and wrong to matter. Politics is too important for morality to matter.
And they've internalized this, because this ought to be a very difficult choice for Republicans. It ought to be a very difficult choice for pro-lifers if, in fact, they believe or come close to believing what they claim to believe. But he's also stating a reality. That in the current world, I mean, look at the way pro-life groups have rushed to embrace Herschel Walker, Rick Scott, Donald Trump --
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Charlie, let me -- let me interrupt you for a second. Charlie, I want to just ask you, okay. You and I. We are both very conservative. You know, I actually, I told people who watch the show. I warned them, right? I'm not a member of the resistance. I am repeatedly, I'm very conservative on crime. I never thought that the so-called reforms were a good thing.
You know, I, I -- I'm very conservative on illegal immigration. I think that if you come to America, the first thing you do should not be illegal. You should not get in front of the line of people who want to come here from Pakistan or India or China or Ukraine or from across the world. I could go down the list. Very conservative!
And yet, when I saw Donald Trump saying, in early December, talking about a Muslim registry and a Muslim ban. I said, could never vote for that guy.
SCARBOROUGH: It's not hard, Charlie.
SYKES: It's not.
SCARBOROUGH: It wasn't hard for me. It's not hard for you.
And I must say, too. The people that I served with back in the '90s, wasn't that long ago, it wasn't hard for them either! We were hard-core conservatives.
SCARBOROUGH: If a -- if a leader stepped out of line, then like Newt Gingrich, they got sent home. This shouldn't be hard.
SYKES: It shouldn't be.
SCARBOROUGH: Henry Olsen in this quote saying, oh, elections are [inaudible] politics -- no. Really? When did that happen? Because no Republican was saying that in the 1990s when Bill Clinton was president.