Who you gonna believe: Joe Scarborough or your lyin' eyes?
Earlier this week, our Peter Kotara caught Mika Brzezinski scolding the White House staff for not doing a good job of scheduling President Biden. As Mika put it, his staff needs to "own his age." That was an explicit acknowledgment that 80-year-old Biden has lost a step -- or three.
Mika thus committed what's known as a gaffe in politics: telling the truth.
So Friday's Morning Joe attempted to clean up the mess that Mika had made by letting the cat of Biden's decrepitude out of the bag. But in trying to do so, the panel took things way too far. So much so that their claims became the stuff of comedy.
It would have been one thing for them to say that, for someone of his advanced age, Biden isn't all that shaky. But no, they had to claim that he is in fact, "sharp." And not just "sharp," but "very sharp." Indeed, as Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post put it, anyone who knows him knows he's "sharp as a tack."
No one who has watched Biden in [in]action over the last few years could possibly believe that.
As proof of Biden's supposed sharpness, the panel pointed to Biden's performance in Helsinki yesterday on the occasion of Finland's entry into NATO. But as you'll see, a very low-energy Biden mumbled his way through. And at one point, Biden called the Prime Minister of Iceland a "daughter of Ireland."
So the panel was fooling no one. But give Morning Joe full marks for giving it the good old college try.
Note: MSNBC analyst John Heilemann engaged in a pathetic bit of self-abasement, suggesting that Biden's performance on the world stage is "better than any of us around this table could do." If Heilemann actually believes that, he and the rest of the panel really should have the decency to resign ASAP!
Here's the transcript.
6:07 am EDT
JOHN HEILEMANN: I'd say another thing I think the White House is delighted with, and I'd be delighted, too. People, you know, banging this kettle drum all day long. Joe Biden is senile.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Right.
HEILEMANN: Joe Biden is infirm. Joe Biden has lost his mind. Joe Biden needs a -- you know, all that stuff.
HEILEMANN: He's seven hours ahead.
HEILEMANN: He stands up there, I think the press conference went for more than an hour. He's taking hard questions on foreign policy. And, looked pretty good.
JEN PALMIERI: Gave a great speech the night before. Not like he didn't have a tough schedule the day before.
HEILEMANN: Right! Tough schedule, tough [inaudible.] He gets in there, he does a long press conference. Not only is it the contrast with what Trump did five years ago. Just in general, the guy is up there handling questions on the world stage, and, and, and without really missing a beat.
If I want to run a tape to refute the absurd notions of Joe Biden's senility or infirmity, I run this tape if I'm the White House and say, that guy is doing better in this space than any of us around this table could do at that --
. . .
MIKA: So Joe, how does he continue this type of momentum in terms of not just the optics, but a real kind of generating a sense of having complete control over the situation? What's different at the NATO summit?
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Well, nothing's different. And that's the thing.I will say this, Mika, following up on what you said a couple of days ago that uh, that got you in red on the Drudge Report, which, that's pretty big, when they give you the red headline.
MIKA: I missed that.
SCARBOROUGH: They did have the scheduling better. They do have the scheduling better. And I thought it was important for them to say, "hey, you know what? He's been going night and day. We're going to let him take off for the dinner." Of course, plan that ahead next time. But little things like that make a big difference.
MIKA: But look at this, Joe. Joe, Joe. Look at this [video rolls of Biden during NATO trip.] Everything here is tightly produced. It's beautiful.
Everything here allows these world leaders to do what they do. And there's no concern about the small things. I would suggest that what I said, that I guess put me in the red, is taken seriously when he comes back home. Because --
SCARBOROUGH: No doubt about it.
MIKA: Because this president is good at what he does. And these events --
SCARBOROUGH: I've always told people.
SCARBOROUGH: I've always told people, that he's, the president is very sharp. He, if, if, if you, you say something or write something, there have been times he's called, and he's refuted it very sharply. He's, I've talked to foreign leaders that have had conversations with him that said that he was on top of every issue.
And to the degree they were actually -- some, some NATO leaders have told me they were very surprised, the contrast between the image in public and the Joe Biden behind closed doors. Because he is so sharp, and he's on top of everything.
. . .
And if people want to focus on him falling on a sandbag or falling off of a bike, that's fine. But while they're talking about that, Joe Biden's making, you know, Europe safe for democracy.
EUGENE ROBINSON: Yeah. Anybody who spent any time with Joe Biden since he's been in the Oval Office knows that the reality is nothing like the, the, the dystopian picture that the Republicans are trying to paint, of this senile, doddering president. And he's as sharp as a tack.