MSNBC's O’Donnell: ‘Don’t Do Stupid Stuff’ Is the ‘Single Best Organizing Principle’ America Could Have

At MSNBC, many are rallying behind Barack Obama’s foreign policy, despite his seemingly aimless goals. On the August 12 edition of The Last Word,  host Lawrence O'Donnell mentioned Hillary Clinton's comments about the President's foreign policy, in which she claimed that ‘don't do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle. O’Donnell couldn’t help but defend Mr. Obama, even if it meant attacking the likely 2016 presidential nominee for the Democrats.

After citing a quote from a Clinton spokesman designed at easing the tension between the former Secretary of State and the President, O’Donnell claimed: “Don't do stupid stuff, if it was the organizing principle of American international relations, would be the single best organizing principle we have ever had. We would finally stop doing stupid stuff.” [MP3 audio here; video below]

Michael Brendan Dougherty of The Week agreed with O’Donnell, arguing that Obama won the 2008 nomination because of his opposition to the Iraq war and Clinton’s original support for it. He continued: “And now she seems to be emphasizing that she disagrees with him and is more hawkish than him, leading to a presumptive run for the Democratic nomination. It doesn't make much sense.”

Dougherty wondered how the Obama administration would respond to Clinton’s thinly veiled attacks on the president:

And it will be interesting to see how Obama reacts to it and how others in his camp react to it. He already – when these criticisms were voiced by Republican senators the day after Clinton’s interview, Obama responded that this is uh, how do I put it, horse stuff.

These comments from Obama were in response to a critique of the President's foreign policy from Tennessee Senator Bob Corker (R) at a meeting with lawmakers, according to The Daily Beast.

The relevant portion of the transcript is below.

MSNBC
The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
August 12, 2014
10:57 p.m. Eastern

LAWERENCE O’DONNELL: Those comments were inspired by an interview Hillary Clinton did in which she offered this criticism of President Obama's approach to international relations: 'Great nations need organizing principles and don't do stupid stuff is not an organizing principle.' Obama campaign mastermind David Axelrod then tweeted, 'just to clarify: don't do stupid stuff means stuff like occupying Iraq in the first place', which was a tragically bad decision. Senator Hillary Clinton, of course, voted to authorize the war in Iraq, which Barack Obama opposed. Today, one of Hillary Clinton's spokesman released this statement: 'Earlier today, the Secretary called President Obama to make sure he knows that nothing she said was an attempt to attack him.' Joining me now is Michael Brendan Dougherty, senior correspondent for theweek.com. Michael, don't do stupid stuff, if it was the organizing principle of American international relations, would be the single best organizing principle we have ever had. We would finally stop doing stupid stuff.

MICHAEL BRENDAN DOUGHERTY, The Week: Right. It's kind of unbelievable. You know, Barack Obama's foreign policy certainly can be criticized, but it's been a vast improvement over his predecessor. And it's just sort of – he beat Hillary Clinton on foreign policy. He said that on the biggest foreign policy decision post-Vietnam she had made the wrong decision and then he beat her. And now she seems to be emphasizing that she disagrees with him and is more hawkish than him, leading to a presumptive run for the Democratic nomination. It doesn't make much sense.

O’DONNELL: Yeah. And uh, she is very conscious of exactly how her words will also be interpreted. And so we're seeing the game here of – she says these things to Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic, and then we have the spokesman statement tonight saying, you know, it's not an attack on the President. Certainly Fox News is taking it to be an attack on the President, which she had to anticipate.

DOUGHERTY: Well, not only that, the Weekly Standard, which was sort of the hot bed of hawkishness during the Bush years, reprinted her words under her byline in their magazine as if it was their own editorial. As if to emphasize the point, putting it under the title of a criticism of Barack's failed foreign policy. It just seems like such an off-game move for Secretary Clinton. And her spokesman not only said it wasn't meant as a criticism, but that they'll hug it out at a fundraiser in Martha's Vineyard tonight. I'm wondering if we'll actually see that.

O’DONNELL: Yeah, it seems like we're probably in store for a little more of this, as her presidential campaign, which is absolutely under way, continues.

DOUGHERTY: Right. And it will be interesting to see how Obama reacts to it and how others in his camp react to it. He already – when these criticisms were voiced by Republican senators the day after Clinton’s interview, Obama responded that this is uh, how do I put it, horse stuff.

O’DONNELL: A word you can’t say on TV.

Connor Williams
Connor Williams
Connor Williams is a contributing writer for NewsBusters.