Bona fide prediction, or devious three-dimensional-chess-move-cum- double-bank-shot-jujitsu gambit designed to sow chaos in Republican ranks? Hard to say, but one thing is undeniable: MSNBC correspondent David Shuster has predicted that Mike Huckabee will be the next President of the United States.
The surprising prognosis came at the end of an interesting pundits roundtable [presumably recorded over the weekend] that took the place of Morning Joe's regular live programming this Christmas Eve morning. Wrapping things up, host Joe Scarborough went around the horn, soliciting predictions from his guests.
Biting the hand that used to feed him, David Shuster has accused Fox News of being part of the "Republican establishment" and as such, going after Mike Huckabee. Shuster appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe during the 6:30 AM ET half-hour today.
DAVID SHUSTER: What's been so interesting about Huckabee, you're starting to see the Republican establishment, despite him being the "Baby Jesus" candidate [adopting Joe Scarborough's formulation], the Republican establishment is going after him pretty hard now. And you even saw it last night when the, I suppose you could call them the Republican establishment Fox News correspondent was asking some pretty asinine questions --
"But Mika Brzezinski agrees with me!" might not be Mike Huckabee's best pitch to Republican primary voters in defending his harsh criticism of the Bush administration on foreign policy. But the fact is that Mika has done her best to throw Mike a lifeline on the matter.
In a "Foreign Policy" magazine article, an excerpt of which appears below, Huckabee had famously written of "the Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality."
Interviewing Huckabee on today's Morning Joe, Mika teed up some recent news as supporting evidence for the "arrogant bunker mentality" allegation -- and the candidate was only too happy to take a swing.
You'd hardly expect the chief Washington correspondent of business channel CNBC to negatively stereotype economic conservatives. But appearing on today's Morning Joe, the urbane John Harwood did just that.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: [Huckabee is] a different type of evangelical. It's not the evangelical in American politics that's traditionally been very conservative economically. Obviously a lot of people at the Wall Street Journal don't like this guy.
Is Hillary Clinton's campaign still communicating with Billy Shaheen? And does Hillary still consider Obama's youthful drug use a relevant campaign issue? Clinton wouldn't say this morning. Hillary sandwiched her evasions between two moments of mirth and hilarity on today's Morning Joe.
Earlier in the morning, Hillary began her Today interview with David Gregory with a smile. Perhaps it was an intervening cup or two of strong coffee, but by the time she chatted with the Morning Joe crowd a bit later, Clinton was downright manic. Hillary was in full cackle as she attempted to laugh off her slippage in the polls. She ended the interview with some guffaws about the trials of waking up early on the campaign trail.
But in between, when it was Mika Brzezinski's turn to ask about continued communication between her campaign and Billy Shaheen, and the relevance of his allegations to the campaign, Hillary turned suddenly grim-faced [see image below] and evasive.
Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" at 7:25 a.m. to Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.): "Senator, we've been talking about this all morning. Mitt Romney teared up on 'Meet the Press' over the weekend. I don't know if you saw it, what you thought of it. Do you ever tear up? When was the last time?"
Kiran Chetry, co-anchor of CNN's "American Morning" at 7:36 a.m.: "We saw Mitt Romney tear up on one of the other networks the other day. What makes you tear up, if anything?"
Both times Clinton answered with the same joke about tearing up this morning when she had had to wake up at the wee hour of 4 a.m. to get ready for the morning show chats. Both times she remarked she doesn't know how they do it. Both times the journalists in question thanked Clinton for her pander, er, candor. No, it was definitely the first one.
Mika Brzezinski: back on the crime beat with another loopy liberal take on reality . . .
Yesterday, the resident lefty on the Morning Joe panel -- defying the facts of the volunteer guard who stopped the Colorado church shooter -- labeled as "the most inane thing" she'd ever heard the notion that one armed citizen could make a difference.
Today, in a breathtaking bit of revisionist history, Brzezinski tried to credit notoriously lax former Mayor David Dinkins rather than Rudy Giuliani for making NYC safe. So fierce was the return fire from Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough that, as pictured here, Mika ultimately took refuge under a sheaf of paper.
Don't confuse Mika Brzezinski with the facts. She's anti-gun and is not about to let some stunning counter-evidence change her mind.
If ever there was an illustration of how an armed citizen can make a difference, it is the case of Jeanne Assam, the brave woman who took out the killer at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs. And yet . . .
On today's Morning Joe, Mika -- in newsreader mode -- dutifully reported the incident. But when Joe Scarborough sought to draw the logical inference, Mika put her anti-gun foot down.
As Republican primary campaign slogans go, "Endorsed by Frank Rich!" might not be a candidate's strongest play. But for better or worse Mike Huckabee is essentially stuck with it after Rich's NYT's column of yesterday. The ostensible theme of "The Republicans Find Their Obama" is that Republican voters are leaning toward Huckabee for the same reasons that Dems are trending to Obama: that both men are relatively young, speak across racial lines, are witty and avoid hyper-partisanship.
But dig down a bit deeper, and it appears that Huckabee's real appeal for Rich is that, social issues aside, he is the most liberal of the GOP frontrunners. Making his case for Huckabee, Rich goes so far to dabble in Christian theology [emphasis added]:
A conservative comedian [yes, there are some], appears at a venue in a heavily-white suburb at a campaign event for a white candidate and tells his audience composed overwhelmingly of people of pallor they'd be embarrassed if they supported a black candidate and the white candidate won, saying "Oh no. I can't call him now. I had that black guy. What was I thinking?"
What are the odds the MSM would laugh it off?
But when Chris Rock does the equivalent on behalf of Barack Obama, the MSM raises nary an eyebrow. Rock appeared last night at an event for Barack Obama at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater and said:
"You'd be real embarrassed if he won and you wasn't down with it. You'd say, 'aw man, I can't call him now. I had that white lady. What was I thinking?'"
Was that Mike Huckabee on "Morning Joe" today -- or John Edwards? The former Arkansas governor found an odd way to refute charges he's not a true conservative, indulging in some class-warfare rhetoric that would have been the envy of the former North Carolina senator.
Mika Brzezinski hit Huckabee with an excerpt from Bob Novak's column of today. Here are the opening paragraphs from Novak's False Conservative:
Who would respond to criticism from the Club for Growth by calling the conservative, free-market campaign organization the "Club for Greed"? That sounds like Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich or John Edwards, all Democrats preaching the class struggle.
Thanksgiving is a time for reconciliation, so let's show some sympathy for our liberal media friends. It's been a tough 24 hours for them. Yesterday, articles appeared in the New York Times and LA Times reporting the dramatically improved security situation in Iraq.
Today brings another blow, as Thomas Friedman suggests that beyond the military successes, there might be an informal kind of political accommodation going on in Iraq that he refers to as an "ATM peace."
Update | 10:48 AM ET -- Mystery Solved: Morning Joe Executive Producer Chris Licht has emailed me to say: "Mika was reading research emailed from a segment producer to her Blackberry: specifically, the Bloomberg News article re: Townsend says election is potential terrorism target."
Have a look at the screencap. It's Mika Brzezinski scrolling what looks to be her Blackberry as she poses a hostile question to Fran Townsend, President Bush's top White House adviser on terrorism and homeland security.
Townsend, who has announced that she's stepping down after four years in the Bush administration, appeared on today's "Morning Joe." After some conversation with Willie Geist, Mika Brzezinski took over, peppering Townsend with a series of challenging questions on everything from the failure to capture Bin Laden to waterboarding.
Mika appeared to have Blackberry in hand throughout. When it came to her last, and nastiest, question, she was busily scrolling it as she read off its screen.
During Brent Bozell’s Thursday interview promoting our book Whitewash on Morning Joe, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough mentioned that ABC’s Jake Tapper had a new story out Thursday morning about how three people pardoned by Bill Clinton in 2001 had donated to Hillary for President. Scarborough used that as an example of how the networks can’t be so isolated anymore in an era of New Media challenges. But there’s just one problem with that theory. Tapper’s story was isolated: it only appeared online, not on-air.
Tapper did appear on ABC's airwaves on Wednesday evening's Nightline to forward the story Hillary really wants circulated: John McCain’s campaign struggling with a supporter calling Hillary the B-word. Here’s the MSNBC exchange on Tapper:
America will have no one to blame but itself if it doesn't seize the opportunity to elect Barack Obama. That was the essence of a comment Michelle Obama made to Mika Brzezinski in the course of an interview the MSNBCer conducted with the candidate's wife in Iowa over the weekend.
The comments aired on today's "Morning Joe" during the 6:30 AM ET half-hour.
Sometimes, the smallest gestures are the most significant . . .
Have a look at the freeze-frame. It shows the moment at which the young woman in Iowa this weekend is retaking her seat after posing that planted question to Hillary about climate change. As you'll see, she's flashing someone a conspiratorial wink and smile. "Morning Joe" rolled the video of the moment at 6:43 and 7:01 AM ET today and MSNBC has been replaying throughout the day.
But for a driver's license and a wink, was a nomination was lost?
Guess I won't be calling Mika Brzezinski a "newsreader" again anytime soon. The "Morning Joe" panelist went to Iowa over the weekend and scored an in-depth interview with Michelle Obama that elicited a highly-controversial suggestion from the candidate's wife. According to Mrs. Obama, her husband isn't polling better among African-Americans because in the back of their minds, many blacks think "others" are better.
My October 20th item, "Obama: No Hand on Heart for National Anthem," focused on a "Time" photo of Barack Obama in Iowa in September at Sen. Tom Harkin's steak fry. In contrast with the other candidates, Obama was shown not placing his hand over his heart during the playing of the national anthem. A reproduction of the photo is seen here, as displayed on today's "Morning Joe." Video from November 5 "Morning Joe" (2:02):Real (1.50 MB) and Windows (1.26 MB), plus MP3 audio (952 kB).
I believe I may have been the first person in the blogosphere to discuss the story. Fox News subsequently made reference to the matter on a couple shows, but to my knowledge no other major news shows picked it up. Yet the story took on a life of its own. The item here continued to attract thousands of new readers every day [over 107,000 hits at last count], dozens of other sites picked it up, and emails began circulating that included the photo. I've received far more email about it than for any other item I've posted. Although some people have written to criticize the item, the great majority of the messages are critical of Sen. Obama. This story has clearly touched a nerve with many Americans.
Will Joe Scarborough be sent to NBC's environmentalist re-education camp and subjected to an endless loop of "An Inconvenient Truth"? The "Morning Joe" host gave a number of hints today that he is less-than-thrilled by the doctrinaire environmentalism the network is imposing on viewers and employees alike during its "Green Week."
Scarborough's show-opening line was a not-overly-subtle dig at the seemingly endless greenery.
I'm part of the enlightened MSM elite, happy to embrace Barack Obama. But, sigh, there are many benighted folks across our land not as sophisticated as I. You know: "Reagan Democrats," who just won't vote for an African-American. And the Republicans would plan to appeal to their racism to attack Obama.
That, in sum, was Joe Scarborough's condescending analysis of Barack Obama's presidential prospects, offered up on today's "Morning Joe." Fortunately, guest Pat Buchanan was there to gently correct him.
Panelist Mika Brzezinski kicked off the discussion of which Dem the Republicans could more easily "demonize."
Obama, goner? Joe Scarborough seems to think so. Here's what the MSNBC host had to say on today's "Morning Joe":
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Yesterday, way too late in the afternoon, I did an hour on "Super Tuesday" [MSNBC's weekly Election 2008 special] and was interviewing A.B. Stoddard, journalist of "The Hill," and I asked her about Barack Obama, was he going to step forward? And she gave a great answer, and she said what a lot of people are not saying right now, she said, "you know what, Joe? He just doesn't have it in him."
Sure, Rosie O'Donnell's a 9-11 conspiracy nut. But she's also a big-time liberal and ardent Republican critic. That makes her our 9-11 conspiracy nut. So let's literally [see screencap] turn the page on her lunacy.
That seemed to be Mika Brzezinski's operative logic on today's "Morning Joe." During the opening 6 AM schmoozefest, talk turned to the confrontation between Rosie and an "O'Reilly Factor" staffer [identified by NewsBuster Ian Schwartz as likely being producer Jesse Watters] that recently occured at an O'Donnell book-signing. Rosie had apparently declined to return phone calls from the "Factor" inviting her on, so Bill dispatched a producer to offer the invitation in person. "Morning Joe" rolled a clip of the incident in which the "Factor" producer invited Rosie to recant her 9-11 conspiracy theory.
A voguish Dem theme is that America's reputation in the world has been eroded and that the next Dem president will restore it. Hillary Clinton has gone so far as to propose appointing Bill as a "roving" [I'll say] ambassador for such purposes. We can safely ignore such fluff as so much presidential-season silliness. A great nation's reputation is forged not by its goodwill ambassadors, but by its actions.
But while the bad-mouthing of America might be written off as so much election-year posturing, there is in fact an important, ironic lesson to be drawn, and it was on display during today's "Morning Joe." For her "must-read" of the morning, Mika Brzezinski chose a USA Today column by Alan M. Webber, "From afar, America resembles a 2nd-rate power", and paraphrased this paragraph from it:
On Wednesday's edition of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," host Joe Scarborough declared, "Al Gore wins." Referencing a story in the New York Times on how global warming is dividing the 2008 GOP field, the former Republican congressman predicted that by the next election, all candidates would adopt Gore's agenda. He conceded, "Yeah. We called him an idiot in 1992, we Republicans, and about 16 years later, we agree with him."
Liberal co-host Mika Brzezinski, the daughter of Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was only too happy to pile on. In addition to calling Republicans "slow" for dismissing global warming, she claimed it "takes you guys a while" to come around. Scarborough could only reply, "You know what thegood thing about being a Republican is? Never having to say you're sorry."
This could be a first: someone accusing Paul Krugman of being insufficiently insulting to conservatives.
That someone is, unsurprisingly, David Shuster, the rabidly anti-conservative MSNBC "correspondent." Shuster is appearing on [was exiled to?] today's "Morning Joe." When it came time to share his "must-read" of the morning, Shuster eschewed Krugman's column, "Gore Derangement Syndrome," observing that "Gore is a little bit passé at this point."
Give Shuster credit for sensing that Americans have had enough of Al, thank you very much. But that didn't stop Mika Brzezinski from citing that same Krugman column as her must-read. Figures. And when she did, Shuster pouted that Krugman hadn't used the pejorative.
Sure, we know when we're being used. The folks at "Morning Joe" are well aware that if baring some liberal leg is likely to cause us to cover them, mentioning NewsBusters by name virtually guarantees that an item will follow here in short order. But if the MSNBC show wants to play the homely-if-roundheeled high school girl striving for attention, NB is happy, as the popular QB of liberal-media busting, to oblige.
And so it was that on this morning's episode, newsreader Mika Brzezinski, much like the girl at the beach who "accidentally" lets the bikini strap slip, made a transparently intentional "mistake," confusing Dick Cheney with Darth Vader. That in turn prompted host Joe Scarborough, in mock horror at Mika's exposure of too much liberal skin, to call for NewsBusters. The incident occurred during Mika's 6:11 A.M. EDT newsreading of an otherwise innocuous item.
In a free-swinging democracy such as ours, rare are the restraints on political speech by our elected representatives. One exception are rules of decorum, such as those governing the House of Representatives that prohibit members from speaking in negative personal terms about their colleagues and other officials.
There is a similar, unwritten rule by which former presidents do not criticize their successors. And while the occasional lapse has occurred over the history of the republic, no president has so thoroughly trashed the tradition as Jimmy Carter, who has made stinging criticism of the Bush administration a virtual art form. Earlier this year, for example, Carter publicly labelled the Bush administration "the worst in history."