In-Law Love: Scarborough Lauds Resolute Zbigniew Brzezinski vs. 'Shape-Shifter' Kissinger

November 30th, 2023 4:23 PM

Joe Scarborough David Ignatius MSNBC Morning Joe 11-30-23 Joe Scarborough can anticipate an aura of connubial bliss this evening.

Because on today's Morning Joe, Scarborough took shots at Henry Kissinger on the occasion of his death, while at the same time painting a much more positive picture of Zbigniew Brzezinski, who just happens to be the late father of Joe's wife and co-host, Mika. He didn't disclose the connection, maybe because it's obvious to most news junkies.

Scarborough prefaced his invidious comparison by disingenously claiming that he was not doing so for purposes of "legacy building or smashing." Riiiight. Why did Scarborough feel obliged to make this disclaimer if it weren't for the obvious fact that that was exactly what he was doing?

Scarborough portrayed Kissinger as a "shape-shifter," who for purposes of retaining influence, excelled at "ingratiating" himself with powerful leaders. Indeed, Scarborough said that Kissinger retained influence "because" of his skill at ingratiating himself. Scarborough usually hates rigid Republican ideologues, but he knows Democrats over 60 still hate the man. Kissinger ran a consulting business. As the Washington Post obit described it, he "used his name, his fame and his network to solve problems and make contacts around the world for banks, insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers and automakers"

In contrast, Scarborough depicted his father-in law Zbig as intellectually honest: "he told you what he thought, whether you liked it or not. He was extraordinarily blunt." He also proclaimed he was correct in foreseeing the fall of the Soviet Union, with Zbig being the optimist and Kissinger the pessimist.

But Zbig worked for President Carter, whose dovishness led to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, as well as the Islamist revolution in Iran, leading to the American hostages being stuck in Iran for 444 days. Touting this man's foreign-policy intellect is like hailing the chief inflation-fighter in the Carter White House. 

Throughout the show's discussion on the death of Kissinger, there was inordinate, if inevitable, time devoted to mentions of Brzezinski, which should be seen as gauche.

Scarborough tried to add weight to his opinion, calling himself someone who "has studied Dr. Brzezinski's legacy." Fine. But still, a brief disclaimer by Scarborough, acknowledging his inherent bias when it came to evaluating his late father-in-law, would have been in order.

Note: Scarborough somehow failed to opine whether Brzezinski "got it right" when he suggested that the US shoot down Israeli aircraft if they overflew Iraqi airspace on their way to attacking Iranian nuclear facilities. 

Here's the transcript.

Morning Joe
6:36 am ET

JOE SCARBOROUGH: You know, David Ignatius, Andrea [Mitchell] was talking about, and you talked about, about Kissinger as well as Dr. Brzezinski. I thought it was fascinating, looking at Lester Holt's package, just fascinating that you had Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, and Dr. Brzezinski, all three of their families chased out of Europe by the rise of Adolf Hitler. 

All three came to America just, just achieving --


SCARBOROUGH: -- towering heights in American foreign policy. 

I do want to draw a distinction, though, not for purposes of, of legacy building or legacy [chuckles] smashing, but just draw some real distinctions to get more of an insight into who Henry Kissinger was.

The great contrast between Kissinger and Brzezinski. Kissinger was a shape-shifter, constantly. He could be what Nixon wanted him to be, and often was, behind the scenes. He could be what, if he was talking to Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton. Again, changed in the Iraq war. He supported the Iraq war at the beginning and then moved in another direction. And then, of course, he was -- Jared Kushner talked to him constantly -- the Trump administration.

So, he, he, he could, he could move politically. He was a master tactician, politically. Whereas Dr. Brzezinski was, well, Dr. Brzezinski. He told you what he thought, whether you liked it or not. He was, he was extraordinarily blunt.

But I will just say, and I will say, perhaps this is because I've studied Dr. Brzezinski's legacy. I think on the big question, about the Soviet Union falling, I think, you know, and others have said this, Kissinger was the pessimist, Brzezinski was the optimist. And Brzezinski got that right. The big question of their time, he got right.

But Kissinger, again, Kissinger continued, continued in public service on the sidelines for 50 years after he left the White House because, again, he just was very skilled at ingratiating himself with, with, with leaders.