Scarborough: Failure of Leadership in Natural Disasters Due to Those Who Vote on Ideological Considerations

During Monday's "Morning Joe" on MSNBC, host Joe Scarborough blamed lack of leadership during natural disasters on partisan voters. Quoting a veteran of his congressional staff, the former Republican congressman remarked that failures of leadership happen "when we elect leaders by checking boxes."

"Are they pro-choice? Are they pro-life? Where are they on gay rights?" Scarborough summarized the minds of partisan voters. "We have forgotten to elect people based on...governing."

"And services," Mike Barnicle chimed in. The "Morning Joe" panel was discussing the recent blizzard in the northeast United States, and the uproar that ensued from poor public services in New York City and the governor of New Jersey being on vacation during the blizzard.
 

"Who can govern us? Who can get us through crises? Who can grow the economy?" Scarborough summarized his ideal leader. Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) was touted on the show for personally helping residents and seeing their way through the snow removal.

"It seems that the only winner out of this was Cory Booker," Scarborough mused. "I think [Chris Christie] seriously believed it was more important for him to be with his family in Disney World than being in New Jersey. I guess he made the assessment that everything was going fine in New Jersey."

Former New York City Mayor Giuliani, Newsweek's Jon Meacham noted, was quick to respond to emergencies on the ground.  Giulanni "was very much a traditional street politician," Meacham said. "If a Dunkin' Donuts, you know, their oven broke, he was there with the jackets and all that."

"And I think there's a certain kind of personality that you have to have in these executive jobs....You have to really love – in the way that Cory Booker clearly does – getting out there and running something."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on January 3 at 7:04 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: You know, David Stafford, my former chief-of-staff in Washington, told me in the middle of Katrina, he said when everybody was failing, President Bush was failing, Blanka was failing, Nagan was failing in New Orleans – and he said this is what happens when we elect leaders by checking boxes. Are they pro-choice? Are they pro-life? Where are they on gay rights? Where are they? We have forgotten to elect people based on –

MIKE BARNICLE: Services –

SCARBOROUGH: Governing –

BARNICLE: And services –

SCARBOROUGH: Who can govern us? Who can get us through crises? Who can grow the economy? And boy, it's just – it was sort of a bleak week, and Major, uh, you look at the situation, and it seems like the only winner out of this was Cory Booker.

(...)

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: And in the case of Chris Christie -- who we like a lot and have been really admiring his leadership during these tough times – the problem here is not just that he was out of town, but his Lieutenant Governor was as well. It just doesn't seem like there's any really good explanation for that, and yet he still remains fairly defiant. What do you make of that?

SCARBOROUGH: I think he seriously believed it was more important for him to be with his family in Disney World than being in New Jersey. I guess he made the assessment that everything was going fine in New Jersey.

(...)

MEACHAM: Maybe inaccurately -- I tend to think of this as Giulanni politics, particularly in terms of crime scenes. At least my sense is that Mayor Giulanni, when he was in office long before September 11, was very much a traditional street politician. He went to – if there was an electrical outlet – if a Dunkin Donuts, you know, their oven broke -- he was there with the jackets and all that. And I think there's a certain kind of personality that you have to have in these executive jobs. And it's different than the legislative temperament, which is that you have to really love – in the way that Cory Booker clearly does – getting out there and running something. And –

BRZEZINSKI: And connecting on every level.

MEACHAM: And connecting. And everybody's a genius afterward, so that's – but that's the game. That's the covenant you enter into. If you run for these jobs, you ask for them, you know there's going to  – these things are going to happen, you know there are going to be hurricanes, you know there are going to be snowstorms, you know there are going to be x, y, z, and I think you have to have a certain joy in fixing it, or it becomes such a pain in the neck that you end up being sarcastic about it with the press, which Mayor Bloomberg has been.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014