MSNBC's Shuster: Bush's Remarks 'Intellectually Grotesque and Dishonest'

The 9a.m. hour of Friday’s MSNBC News Live featured only slanted coverage of President Bush’s remarks to Israel's Knesset including "Hardball" correspondent David Shuster’s characterization of the President’s remarks as “clearly an intellectually grotesque and dishonest statement.”

Shuster also argued that Bush’s remarks were offensive to "a lot" of people because "when you talk about Adolf Hitler in the context of the Middle East, it diminishes the atrocities and just how horrific the Nazi regime really was."

The hour long broadcast featured two segments which focused on Bush’s remarks with guests David Shuster and Barack Obama supporter Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), both of whom criticized the President’s statements and went along with the Democratic spin that Bush’s statements were an attack on Obama.

Shuster also used this opportunity to criticize the "hypocrisy" of President Bush as well as John McCain’s supposed Hamas flip-flop: "There's a bit of hypocrisy here because merely talking with our enemies, that's something that Ronald Reagan has done with the Soviet Union, Richard Nixon did with China. John McCain advocated just a few years ago that we should be talking with Hamas."

Also, Shuster attacked McCain for his supposed hypocrisy on standing for a new kind of politics: "Look at what John McCain was trying to say in his speech yesterday that he stands for a new kind of politics, that he's above of this sort of traditional, slash and burn politics and, yet, he then embraces in what is clearly an intellectually grotesque and dishonest statement by President Bush."

The relevant portions of the transcript follow:

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Live from Capitol Hill right now, former presidential candidate who is now backing Barack Obama, Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd. Senator, thanks for being with us.

SENATOR CHRIS DODD: Thank you, Mika, very much. Nice to be here.

BRZEZINSKI: Without mentioning Senator Obama's name, President Bush said that speaking with a leader like the President of Iran is similar to the appeasement of Hitler. He didn't mention Barack Obama's name, but was that or was it not a swipe at your candidate?

DODD: Well, Mika, I was born at night but not last night. And anybody who thinks that wasn't is living in a never-never land. This was clearly a, I don't know who's responsible for it. The President certainly has to accept responsibility. I've been in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for 25 years. One thing we've always followed here, when presidents are out of the country, historically people try to avoid attacking the President when he's out of the country. I've never been in the situation where I've seen a president out of the country attack another presidential candidate. And particularly in that setting, on the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel. This is a state which Democrats, Republicans, Americans have strong supported over many, many years. My father was a prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials.

BRZEZINSKI: Mhmm.

DODD: I grew up with great learning about the Nazis and Hitler and what they did. And to suggest, even by implication as the President did, is beyond insulting. It's infuriating. And I hope people all across this country, regardless of your politics, whether you're for Barack Obama or not, would speak out loudly and reject that kind of politics, and frankly, the President ought to be ashamed of himself for what he did.

BRZEZINSKI: Well, what are you expecting Senator Obama to say at this rally in South Dakota because I do have one other way of looking at this that we talked about a little bit this morning, Senator, and that is that this, well, this takes Barack Obama on at a presidential level in dealing with foreign policy. Perhaps it is a huge opportunity for your candidate to get out there on foreign policy and show what he's got.

DODD: Well, listen, Mika, let me just, having been around to watch this, I remember Richard Nixon going to be Mao Tse-tung in China. Not because he liked Mao Tse-tung or wanted to have lunch with him, or was trying to appease an enemy. We were trying to open a door with a very important power in the world with whom we had significant disagreements. Certainly, Ronald Reagan, meeting with Soviet leadership and arms control and efforts here, not because he liked them, wanted us to break bread with them, spend an evening with them, but as an American president he had an obligation to try and reduce the threat of nuclear conflict. The suggestion, somehow, that we don't meet with people we don't like is rather naive to put it mildly. Every American President during my tenure, and I've served with six or seven of them, every single one, Democrats and Republicans have certainly engaged that. John Kennedy said it as well as any of them has some forty years ago, more than that now, when he said that we never should fear to negotiate but never negotiate out of fear. And certainly that oughta be the hallmark and the conduct of foreign policy. What President Bush was suggesting somehow in the Knessest of all places here is that we ought not to try and find ways to bring an end to these conflicts.

BRZEZINSKI: Well, Senator, what I thought was also interesting as this news broke yesterday at 8:45 Eastern time, the President's comments coming over the wires, John Yang reporting it, but then ya had, I think it was in the Post I was reading it, the Secretary of Defense Bob Gates putting out a different approach toward Iran. It almost seemed like one arm wasn't connected to the other. Help me understand what's happening here with the White House and what you think they potentially were trying to do, if this was not [snarky look], if you take their word for it, a swipe at Barack Obama?

DODD: Well, again, Mika, it clearly was. There's no question about it.

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah.

DODD: And you saw the comments by others sort of applauding the President for what he had to say. I thought was Secretary Gates said was the right thing to say. He has it exactly right here. You need to have leverage, and if you have leverage you can begin to talk to people. And there are things you can do and not do. There are carrots and sticks as you begin to approach all of this. And you never eliminate the possibility of using military force. You never take that off the table here. That would be a foolish thing to do. But you don't begin there. That's not the first arrow you draw out of your quiver which is what is being suggested by too many people here. You use all these other tools that a great nation such as this one has to advance our foreign policy interest and those of our allies. And the suggestion, the President somehow, that Barack Obama here would be willing to sit down with people like Hitler here is so offensive it's infuriating as I said earlier. And I think anybody who's been involved in foreign policy, Democrats or Republicans, ought to reject those kind of comments out of hand.

BRZEZINSKI: Well, the debate will continue over this and also if we have rebuilding to do in terms of our global reputation. I'd like to have you back to talk about that.

DODD: Absolutely.

BRZEZINSKI: Senator Chris Dodd live from Capitol Hill. Always good to talk to you Senator, thank you very much.

DODD: Thank you very much. You bet.

BRZEZINSKI: All right, take care.

[…]

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Okay. MSNBC Hardball correspondent David Shuster joins us now. This was quite something on Morning Joe this morning. We had a good time with this. Biden was on our show and went on with the point that he was developing there. Clearly McCain, though, thinks this is a legitimate issue. Is this a winning issue for him, though? To line up with the President on this one?

DAVID SHUSTER: Well I think the way this all went down was not a winning issue. I mean, look at what John McCain was trying to say in his speech yesterday that he stands for a new kind of politics, that he's above of this sort of traditional, slash and burn politics and, yet, he then embraces in what is clearly an intellectually grotesque and dishonest statement by President Bush. I mean, it's striking on so many levels, Mika. First of all, it's offensive to a lot of people because when you talk about Adolf Hitler in the context of the Middle East, it diminishes the atrocities and just how horrific the Nazi regime really was. And, then, secondly, there's a bit of hypocrisy here because merely talking with our enemies, that's something that Ronald Reagan has done with the Soviet Union, Richard Nixon did with China. John McCain advocated just a few years ago that we should be talking with Hamas. The issue, it becomes appeasement only when you're under threat and you give something away. When you give something away, that's very different from talking with your enemies and I think that's why, perhaps, on an intellectual level, John McCain loses here. However, as was also pointed out this morning, a lot of Americans are perhaps not as involved in the complexities and when it gets boiled down, maybe in that sense, John McCain gets to sorta renew the focus as to whether Barack Obama is as supportive of our ally in the Middle East, Israel, as John McCain is.

BRZEZINSKI: You know, you say John McCain loses on this one. And I'd add, I could be wrong here, Shuster, and you tell me what you think. I think Barack Obama potentially wins on this one because he's being brought in to the foreign policy conversation at a presidential level. He has an opportunity today to lay it out on the line and show people exactly where he stands on this issue.

SHUSTER: Yeah, Mika. I think you're absolutely right. It does elevate Barack Obama to the level of President Bush. It's a winner in the sense that Barack Obama's taking on a president with a twenty-seven percent approval rating, one of the lowest in history. It takes the focus away from Hillary Clinton and in a weird sort of way, it takes it away from John McCain. It becomes an Obama versus Bush battle with the entire Democratic Party united behind Barack Obama on this one. And, he's got the advantage of having several hours to craft out exactly how he wants to respond. So, I'm with ya.

BRZEZINSKI: David Shuster, thanks for your perspective and thanks for helping out on Morning Joe this morning. Talk to you soon.