MSNBCers Fall Over Themselves Praising 'Amazing,' 'Historic' Obama Foreign Policy Speech
If you have any lingering doubts about which way MSNBC "leans," you don't need to look any farther than the cable channel's coverage of President Obama's speech on Thursday regarding foreign relations and national security.
At times, it seemed that each MSNBC host or contributor was trying to outdo the other with fawning cheers over the latest address from the Democratic occupant of the White House, ranging from "momentous" to "remarkable."
Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," began a Friday morning segment by reading part of an editorial from that day's edition of the New York Times:
President Obama's speech on Thursday was the most important statement on counterterrorism policy since the 2001 attacks, a momentous turning point in post-9/11 America.
For the first time, a president stated clearly and unequivocally that the state of perpetual warfare that began nearly 12 years ago is unsustainable for a democracy and must come to an end in the not-too-distant future.
Scarborough then asked panelist Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations: “Does the New York Times have it right? Was that speech from the president yesterday that momentous?”
Haass responded: “Absolutely. It was actually, I thought, one of the most important and one of the best speeches of his presidency."
"What's the most important policy objective that he advanced yesterday?” Scarborough pressed.
The panelist replied: “Downsizing or downscaling the centrality of the quote-unquote War on Terrorism as a centerpiece of American national security."
Haass praised the president for essentially saying: "We're going to continue with this, but it's no longer going to be essential, it's no longer going to dominate. It's going to be a concern, it's no longer going to be the concern.
"This was actually a really important foreign policy-national security speech," he concluded.
Scarborough then stated that he doesn't understand why the same president who “actually caused an explosion” of drone use became "the one who's pulling back, the same guy who didn't shut down Gitmo in the past four years.”
The co-host suggested that the president is suddenly becoming more like “the President Obama of 2008, the candidate Obama. I'm not criticizing this, but why did he give this speech right now?”
Mark Halperin responded that Thursday's address was “a very long speech, a very thoughtful speech.”
The senior political analyst for Time magazine added:
Look, there’s a lot of contradictions between 2008 Barack Obama and the way he’s governed, but he’s had to deal with the realities of what he’s faced coming in.
Halperin noted that he found it "remarkable" for Obama to "propose checks on the power of his presidency and future presidents to say the War on Terror can’t be done by an executive who can do whatever he or she wants, especially after the Bush/Cheney years."
With the blame for the problems the Obama administration has confronted placed squarely on the previous occupants of the White House, Scarborough noted that Thursday "was a good day for progressives" since Obama's speech encouraged liberals by "saying Gitmo is something that undermines American values, talking about limiting drone attacks."
However, MSNBC contributor Richard Wolffe expressed a negative viewpoint by saying there's "a lot of skepticism" among Democrats since the president has left many campaign promises unfulfilled.
"There's a lot of great rhetoric," Wolffe said, "and actually, the policy shifts are real, so I'm not disputing any of that, but moving drone attacks, the authority for drone attacks or the execution of drone attacks from the CIA into the Defense Department doesn’t make it transparent."
The only other critical remarks about Obama's speech came from correspondent Kelly O’Donnell on Capitol Hill, who said that "of course, there's been a mix of reviews" from Republicans.
One of those GOP responses came from U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a Republican from Georgia who declared that the address was "a victory for terrorism."
O’Donnell concluded by stating:
I think the breadth of this speech makes it in some ways a challenge for members of Congress to just see how it will play out because the president hit so many key areas.
However, if you find GOP criticism of Obama's speech discouraging, you need look no farther for spectacular examples of media fawning than other MSNBC program hosts.
The address was “one of those signature speeches by this person at this moment in history that somehow rise up out of normal politics and address a taboo with an uncommon level of frankness and clarity and nuance,” said the host of "All in With Chris Hayes" later that day.
It was a speech “worthy of a man who has won the Nobel Peace Prize,” added Al Sharpton, host of the channel's weekday "PoliticsNation" program.
Nevertheless, Haass concluded his "Morning Show" appearance by making a suggestion about Obama's Thursday speech:
I would hope that this becomes a model for his presidency. I would like to see him give the equivalent speech, say, on long-term entitlements. This was a big speech where he laid open his thinking. If he would do more of this, I think he could be a more effective president.
Better late than never, I suppose.