What a difference that a few hours -- and change in media platform -- can make when it comes to criticism of President Obama.
On his daily podcast this past Friday, Ed Schultz was surprisingly blunt in hitting Obama for his startling admission a day earlier that "we don't have a strategy" for confronting the deadly threat from the feral Islamist thugs in ISIS. (Audio after the jump)
Schultz said his previous "staunch" support for Obama doesn't mean he's going to be an apologist this time around (audio) --
SCHULTZ: Speaking of clouds, I'm kinda foggy on what the president said yesterday. Now I think it's fair to say, beyond, that I've been a staunch supporter of President Obama and I have easily found a way in times of trouble to explain exactly where he is, where he's going, what he believes in, and how this is a good direction for America, and I have believed all of that. I knew he knew what he was doing on the economy, I know he knew what he was doing on health care. But I'll tell you what, when the president comes out and makes a declarative statement about we do not have a strategy, I don't know how to defend that. That's not good. And if you're a fair-minded American, whether you're a liberal or conservative or whatever, you're a red-blooded, tax-paying American that loves the country, I think you should be troubled by that statement.
The president has plenty of political moxie, the president has plenty of wherewithal in the political arena to know exactly what he's saying, and for the White House to have to come back after the media jumped all over it and explain exactly what he meant, it shouldn't be that way. This is a big effin' deal, according to Joe Biden, and this ain't health care, this is conflict. The president addressing whether he will consult Congress, which is a good thing. He needs to consult the Congress 'cause we don't know where this tug of war with ISIS is going to go. Here he is --
OBAMA: I have consulted with Congress throughout this process. I am confident that as commander in chief I have the authorities to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently. As our strategy develops we will continue to consult with Congress and I do think that it'll be important for the Congress to weigh in. But I don't want to put the cart before the horse. We don't have a strategy yet. I think what I've seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we're at than we currently are.
SCHULTZ: We don't have a strategy yet. In other words, he doesn't know what he wants to do with ISIS or how he wants to do it, we'll throw some bombs at 'em, we'll upscale some targets, and we'll do that. We don't have a strategy yet. I find that troubling, I do! I would like the president to say, I know exactly what I want to do but I gotta get Congress to come along with me and I can't act without 'em. The president has to know what he wants to do against ISIS, he has to know what he wants to go against the Russian incursion into the Ukraine. I don't think, as a supporter of the president for years, I don't think that's too much to ask for! Especially with the spotlight being put on what these atrocities are doing to humanity, I mean, what is unfolding in the Middle East! And he doesn't have a strategy yet! That's bothersome.
Within a matter of hours, from the airing of Schultz's podcast at noon to "The Ed Show" on MSNBC at 5 p.m., Schultz decided he'd better tone it down. Schultz revisited the issue on his cable show but his remarks bore little resemblance to his candid critique of Obama earlier in the day.
For example, "The Ed Show" segment that focused on Obama's no-strategy remarks opened with Schultz claiming that it was "conservatives" who had "jumped on the president for his lack of a serious strategy." While Schultz said this, footage was shown of GOP strategist Karl Rove, columnist Charles Krauthammer, and Republican congressmen Louie Gohmert and Mike Rogers, the latter serving as chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
Next Schultz played reaction to Obama's remarks on ISIS from Fox reporter Ed Henry (describing Obama's statement as "a disaster"), Krauthammer saying "he shocked me," Rogers calling Obama's remarks "really shocking, Gohmert saying "you bomb the bad guys," and Rove describing it as "an appalling display of a lack of leadership."
Conspicuously absent from this montage, at least to anyone who'd listened to Schultz earlier in the day, was Schultz also slamming Obama. Instead, Schultz dishonestly made it appear that criticism of Obama was coming only from the other side of the aisle.
Schultz proceeded along the same lines while interviewing his only guest during the segment, Congressman John Garamendi, Democrat of California, who said that, well, perhaps Obama should not have used "that word" and might instead have uttered a "different word." Regardless of what Obama does, Garamendi claimed, his critics will go after him -- "If the president were to have Cheerios in the morning, he'd be condemned for not having Wheaties."
It was at this point that Schultz veered as close as he dared to his earlier criticism of Obama --
SCHULTZ: Well, the president, some are thinking that he is overly cautious on this issue, maybe even not prepared (that "some" including Schultz, though he can't bring himself to admit this). Your thoughts, I mean, are we being too cautious here? I mean, there are public executions that are taking place with ISIS. Obviously the airstrikes have been intensified. But when he says he doesn't have a strategy yet, it sounds like he's winging it. And I don't hear, I mean, you're the first, seriously congressman, you're the first Democrat that I've heard come out and in some sorts defend the president for the way he's positioned this and explaining that there's a lot of players at this table.
GARAMENDI: Well, I think it's easy enough to take shots at anybody and certainly the president, being the highest on the pinnacle, people take shots at him. But that's not going to solve this problem.
Nor will a stream of consciousness admission from the commander in chief that he hasn't the faintest idea on how to deal with this problem, nor will it be resolved by Obama's default approach of leading from behind, nor will it to suffice to wait until we get hit again with a catastrophic attack before deciding to defang those who consider it a holy rite to destroy us. A key corollary of the Bush Doctrine remains as true today as it was right after 9/11 -- better to fight them there than here.
If you want to know what Schultz really thinks, listen to his podcast. If you want to know what MSNBC wants Schultz to think, or what he thinks MSNBC wants him to think, watch "The Ed Show."