Today's Morning Joe offered an interesting contrast of MSM takes on Donald Trump. Politico honcho John Harris proffered the conventional Beltway wisdom, writing off Trump as a "silly season" candidate who adds only entertainment and amusement value to the race.
Meanwhile, Mark Halperin was surprisingly respectful of The Donald. Halperin opined that beyond the birther issue, Trump was doing a lot of smart things that other candidates should study. Among them, Trump is the only candidate, according to Halperin, willing to "get in Barack Obama's face."
View video after the jump.
Watch and consider Halperin and Harris's wildly divergent takes on Trump. Which do you think comes closer to the mark?
Joe Scarborough sparked the discussion by citing a CNN poll showing Trump tied at the top among Republican voters.
MARK HALPERIN: I think there's been too much focus on Trump's attention to the birther issue. That's significant, and I think it's clearly played a role in his rise given how many Republicans agree with his skepticism about the president's citizenship, however deplorable that is.
But there are other issues, other things he's doing, that I think account for the rise, and I think if you're one of these other Republicans who is being overshadowed by Trump, who gets asked about Trump all the time, rather than ignoring it, or being upset about it, they should be studying: what is Trump talking about that is striking a chord: China, about America standing up for its place in the world, not being made, being treated like a chump by other countries whose defense budgets are smaller but who we fight for. He is doing and saying a lot of things that a smart candidate, who's serious about running, and with a real chance to be a real factor would do. And people can joke about him all they want, but there's something going on with Trump that's more than just his name ID.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: And you told me also yesterday on the phone that he's doing something that you hear Republicans saying God, we wish somebody, he's getting in Barack Obama's face.
HALPERIN: Exactly--the main thing accounting for his success. He's doing what all Republicans want. They want somebody who can beat the president. There's real doubts about these other candidates. Trump is right in the president's face. Sometimes over the line rhetorically, but he's giving people the impression: I'm tough, I'm not afraid of Barack Obama, I will put him in his place. And that has broad appeal for the anti-Obama sentiment in America, which within the Republican party is white hot.
John Harris of Politico, appearing later and evaluating the same poll numbers, was contemptuous of Trump's candidacy.
JOHN HARRIS: The silly season of presidential politics, the part where we're all just sort of entertaining ourselves, is going to be extended much longer than it normally is. The serious season perhaps isn't going to start until the Fall. Let's face it: Donald Trump is not going to be the Republican nominee, is not going to be president. All the speculation about Donald Trump, for that matter probably also Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, what it does is freeze the race, makes it much harder for people like Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, to gain traction, because basically we're still in the entertainment phase. And the reason we're in the entertainment phase is that not many Republicans are that enthusiastic about the so-called serious candidates. So I think it what it does is hold everything in place. We can amuse ourselves with Trump speculation. It really comes at the detriment of whoever ultimately will be the nominee.