Today's Morning Joe brought to mind that old college football chant: Hit 'em again! Hit 'em again! Harder! Harder!
There was frustration across the board with establishment Republicans like Karl Rove who, in the context of the 2024 GOP primary, are not attacking Donald Trump hard enough for the panel's taste.
Eugene Robinson encapsulated the theme of the morning:
"If you're going to not have Donald Trump as your nominee, you'd better take him down! You better go after him."
Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist sounded similar notions.
Geist wondered, "If you're not going to go after the guy you're running against, why are you in the race?" If anyone remembers Willie or anyone else on Morning Joe saying this about the Democrats who didn't mercilessly shred Biden during the primaries in 2020, let us know.
Scarborough accused Republicans who have gone easy on Trump of "defining political deviancy down."
And here's a suggestion for the Morning Joe advertising department. Scarborough invariably invokes "fascism" whenever he talks about Trump, as he did today no fewer than three times during the segment. So how about flashing a "This Segment Sponsored By Antifa," graphic on screen whenever Joe launches into his Trump/fascism rant?
Note: the segment began with a clip of Trump at CPAC denouncing Jeb Bush, Karl Rove, and Paul Ryan as part of a cast of "villains, scoundrels, freaks, neo-cons, globalists, open-borders zealots, and fools."
The show then rolled a clip of Rove's response, in which he called Trump's speech a "good one, but not a great one."
When someone gives a speech denouncing you with such a string of epithets, to call that speech, as Rove did, good if not great? That does sound like weakness.
Here's the transcript.
Morning Joe being mad at Republicans for not attacking Donald Trump hard enough was sponsored by Coca Cola, Pepsi, Abbvie, maker of Rinvoq, GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Trelegy, and Sleep Number.
6:05 am ET
DONALD TRUMP: We will liberate America from these villains and scoundrels once and for all. When we started this journey, a journey like there has never before. There's never been anything like this. We had a Republican party that was ruled by freaks, neo-cons, globalists, open-border zealots, and fools. But we are never going back to the party of Paul Ryan, Karl Rove and Jeb Bush.
KARL ROVE: The president did name check me. I was happy to be named in the middle of Paul Ryan and Jeb Bush. But, you know, I think the president's speech was a good one, but not a great one. He has, as, you know -- he's now begun to emphasize issues, but some are weird. Building ten new cities around America and having people elect school principals just strike me as fanciful ideas.
But at least he was talking mostly, not entirely, but mostly, about the future. We did have the recitation that he'd actually won the 2020 election and that he'd won it by a lot, which I think people are over that. There's just, move on. You didn't win the election. You aren't President of the United States. Stay focused on the future.
. . .
JOE SCARBOROUGH: I mean, Willie, I mean, talk about defining -- I won't say deviancy, well, political, defining political deviancy down to say, oh, at least he started to talk about the issues. I mean, he's basically declaring war on anybody who didn't vote for him. He's still lying about losing the election . . . This is a really screwed up, twisted reality, and to try to gloss over it, which some establishment Republicans tried to do, and go, well, you know at least he's starting to talk about the issues.
It's, to say that's unfortunate, well, that's a bit of an understatement. It's really, I mean, Trump's message top to bottom was sick. And again, it was all-out warfare on anybody that did not vote for him. Or, people who voted for him who still won't follow him with the lie that led to the riots on January 6th.
. . .
EUGENE ROBINSON: The approach that Karl Rove is taking, and others are taking, of sort of patronizing Trump: oh, you know, isn't he cute? Not great. He was okay, but he's the past.
That: why are they doing this? Don't they understand that if you're going to not have Donald Trump as your nominee, you'd better take him down! You better go after him. Because he is out there running for president! And yes, CPAC was kind of sad an weird this year, but, in fact, he was there. And that's his crowd. And you gotta to take them away from him if you're going to be the nominee. And I don't see anybody doing that.
WILLIE GEIST: And Joe, it's not just Karl Rove who talks about Donald Trump like that. It's people running against him in the race who say, well, he did a lot of good things. I don't want to criticize the former president. If you're not going to go after the guy you're running against, why are you in the race?
. . .
SCARBOROUGH: You have a guy, you have a guy who is talking about -- calling people villains who didn't vote for him, saying, I am your retribution.
That's not stirring up violence. He already stirred up violence on January the 6th. It's just been one fascist talking point after another fascist talking point through the years. This is fascism. You can't round off the curves and try to make it look pretty. It ain't gonna look pretty.