'Credit Where Due'—Scarborough Lauds Reaganesque Speaker Johnson On Ukraine

April 18th, 2024 1:21 PM

Mika Brzezinski Joe Scarborough Willie Geist MSNBC Morning Joe 4-18-24 "Hear hear! Good on him. Credit where credit is due, and credit is definitely due with Speaker Johnson."  -- Joe Scarborough

It's often said that it can be a kiss of death for a politician to be praised by a political opponent. 

But that adage might not hold true in the case of Joe Scarborough's praise of Speaker Mike Johnson. Because on today's Morning Joe, Scarborough lauded Johnson not for agreeing with some liberal icon, but for upholding the principles of . . . Ronald Reagan.

Scarborough's commending of Johnson came in the context of the Speaker's advocacy of aid for Ukraine.  And in doing so, Johnson described himself as a Reagan Republican, a believer in peace through strength, wanting to send a message to adversaries like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, and seeing the US as the greatest country in the world.

Marjorie Taylor Greene and others will find a way to criticize Johnson's statement, but it's a tricky needle to thread. Does a Republican really want to speak out against Ronald Reagan?

Note: Speaking of Johnson's stance, Scarborough called himself a Baptist, and thus as someone who embraces conversions. He even quoted from the Just As I Am hymn.

The irony was lost on Scarborough that he's had quite the conversion himself. Going from being a hardcore pro-life, pro-Second Amendment congressman from Florida's conservative panhandle, to decrying the overturning of Roe and beating the drums for more gun control.  Scarborough's conversion has been so complete that he's become a Biden phone buddy and informal adviser.

Just as you were, Joe Scarborough: please!

Here's the transcript.

Morning Joe
6:03 am EDT

JOE SCARBOROUGH: In a few minutes, Willie, we're going to be talking about Speaker Johnson and Ukraine.

I must say, he has had a conversion. You know, it's, it's like A Christmas Carol. That the ghost of the Republican party past came to visit him in the middle of the night and said to him, [imitates voice of Ronald Reagan] "Well," and he said,"Yes, sir."


SCARBOROUGH: No, listen. What do I say about conversions?

MIKA: I'll take 'em.

SCARBOROUGH: I'm a Baptist.

MIKA: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: We love deathbed conversions, we love midlife conversions. You want to convert? Just as I am, and waiting not, to cleanse my soul of one dark spot.

Well, okay, we'll take Speaker Johnson, who sounds like Ronald Reagan. And I will say, in defense of some of the leaders in that House GOP, like some of those leaders that run important committees. It sounds like they're actually concerned about China, Iran, and Russia!

WILLIE GEIST: And this might literally be a political deathbed conversion for Mike Johnson, as the threats to his job continue from that faction. But Joe, Speaker Johnson invoked Ronald Reagan's name --

SCARBOROUGH: Hear, hear.

GEIST: -- finally said it out loud. It's something we've been talking about for months now on this show: the party of Ronald Reagan turning its back on Ukraine in a fight against Russia. 

Speaker Johnson said yesterday, "I am a child of the '80s. I am a child of the Reagan era. We have to do what's right here. We have to give Ukraine what it needs."

Where was that over the last couple of months? Unclear. But he's come around. The question will be, have enoug hother Republicans come around to that position to clear this funding and get it to Ukraine? Perhaps as early as Saturday night, when Speaker Johnson says there will be a vote.

MIKA: Hope to see Democrats step up.

SCARBOROUGH: Maybe he'll go to the floor.


SCARBOROUGH: Maybe he'll say --

MIKA: Listen --

SCARBOROUGH: MTG, tear down that wall! I mean, there's so many options now.

MIKA: Yeah, there's a lot to say.

SCARBOROUGH: He can borrow so much from Ronald Reagan.

. . . 

MIKAL And despite the threats from his Republican colleagues, Johnson is pushing forward.

MIKE JOHNSON [speaking with Jake Tapper on CNN]: We're going to stand for freedom and make sure that Vladimir Putin doesn't March through Europe. We're an exceptional nation. We're the greatest nation on the planet, and we have to act like it. And we have to project to Putin and Xi and Iran and North Korea and anybody else that we will defend freedom. It doesn't mean boots on the ground. We're not the world's policemen, but we're going to do the right thing. And I think the Congress is going to take an important stand here.

JAKE TAPPER: Are you going to have to rely on Democrats to pass the rule in order to bring these bills to the floor, and also the legislation itself?

JOHNSON: Well, I hope not. I hope our Republican colleagues will stand together, stick together on this. I think we understand, look, I'm a child of the '80s. I regard myself as a Reagan Republican. I understand the concept of maintaining peace through strength. That's one of our guiding principles. It's a really important philosophy. And it's a big part of our party and our world view. And I think here is an opportunity to make that stand at a really critical time in world history.

SCARBOROUGH: I mean, this is like a movie for me. I went to sleep last night, and we were living in the age of Trump. And I woke up this morning, and now we're in the age of Reagan again. Listen to this. Peace through strength. Huh.

MIKA: That sounds good.

SCARBOROUGH: And you knowm, a couple days ago, I kind of got heated up about how Republicans hate on America so much. I was talking about how horrible America is. And I said America is the greatest country in the world. And they need to start saying it. Well, the Speaker said, "We're the greatest nation in the world." Good on him. Like, we don't hear this from Republicans. 

We certainly don't hear that we have to actually fund people who are fighting against Russian aggression much these days. Except from, again, those responsible leaders, whether you're talking about the chairman of the intel committee or the chairman of the foreign affairs committee, people who are actually talking like grown-ups.

But I've got to say, give credit where credit is due, and credit is definitely due with Speaker Johnson talking like a Reagan Republican, talking about the need to protect freedom in this fight between western democracy and what's going on in Russia.