NBC's Todd Levies Rare Criticism Against President Obama

NBC’s chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd had some tough words for President Obama on Monday’s Morning Joe. Todd, anchor of MSNBC’s Daily Rundown and a frequent critic of Republicans on network’s programming, scolded the president for running a “leaderless Washington,” and for failing to “rally the world” to a “solution in Syria.”

Todd’s critique was in reference to a Saturday op-ed in the New York Times, in which conservative columnist Ross Douthat berated the Obama administration for promoting policies of little importance to most Americans – in lieu of an aggressive jobs agenda.

For his part, host Joe Scarborough agreed, chiding both Congress and the White House for “talking about everything, except what Americans are most concerned about.” Todd then sarcastically chimed in:

Joe, you forget about that very top of the mind issue, nuclear arms control.

Todd, of course, was citing President Obama’s recent call for a reduction in both American and Russian nuclear arsenals in a speech made at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Scarborough jokingly affirmed Todd’s assertion, facetiously claiming the president has been pushing issues “we’re talking about in Rotary clubs across America.” NBC’s chief White House correspondent responded by continuing to mock the president:

That’s – exactly. Raleigh, Missouri, that’s what they were getting together to figure out.

Todd finished the segment with a more sober criticism of both the president and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), asking why Washington doesn’t have strong leadership:

There seems to be real healing here and the economy seems to be improving in a lot of different areas, but why not address the other elephant in the room that people do talk about at their kitchen tables, in the Rotary clubs, which is this leaderless Washington. Who's trying to figure out – why is it that Speaker Boehner couldn't get control and run the House of Representatives? Why isn't the president able to rally the world and beat up Putin in a way that – shame him into expediting a solution in Syria? You know, where is this, you know – sometimes I get the impression that Boehner and the president – everybody's throwing up their hands going, boy, look at this hand I've been dealt. It's an awful hand. I don't know what to do. Forget it.

At no time, however, did the political observers on the panel consider that perhaps President Obama is focusing on boutique issues which energize elements of the left – such as nuclear arms reduction or global warming – because his mind is not on sound public policy so much as rallying the liberal base for the 2014 midterm elections.

See the relevant transcript below:


MSNBC
Morning Joe
June 24, 2013
7:29 a.m. Eastern    

JOE SCARBOROUGH: And Chuck, we've been talking about Ross Douthat’s op-ed yesterday, about The Great Disconnect. It really is something that – you look at what the court is talking about right now and certainly it's very, it's very important and it should be very important, the sections of this society, all of those issues. But the president's also going to be talking about climate change. Again, very important for a lot of people, certainly a lot of people from Washington up to Boston. But it doesn't rank high in the polls.

It seems to me, you look at this culture that we have – this political culture we have on TV, on talk radio, on the internet – and then in the Senate and the House and the White House, they're talking about everything, except what Americans are most concerned about. And that is an economy that seems to be withering away, while politicians are desperate to pump it full of sort of fuel injection.

CHUCK TODD: Joe, you forget about that very top of the mind issue, nuclear arms control.

SCARBOROUGH: Yes, exactly.

TODD: That of course is something that –

SCARBOROUGH: Cause that’s what we're talking about in Rotary clubs across America.

TODD: That’s – exactly. Raleigh, Missouri, that’s what they were getting together to figure out. You know, it’s funny. And the other issue that I think that everybody is ducking here, is this issue of – we're staring in front of us, are all of these various ways that Washington isn't working. So either – if you're not going to address these economic, and one could argue there's only so much that could be done as you wait for the economy to recover. You do little things here. But it's sort of a – some of this stuff isn't going to happen overnight so you sort of wait.

There seems to be real healing here and the economy seems to be improving in a lot of different areas, but why not address the other elephant in the room that people do talk about at their kitchen tables, in the Rotary clubs, which is this leaderless Washington. Who's trying to figure out – why is it that Speaker Boehner couldn't get control and run the House of Representatives? Why isn't the president able to rally the world and beat up Putin in a way that – shame him into expediting a solution in Syria? You know, where is this, you know – sometimes I get the impression that Boehner and the president – everybody's throwing up their hands going, boy, look at this hand I've been dealt. It's an awful hand. I don't know what to do. Forget it.