Morning Joe Face-Plant: The Nation's Eric Alterman Stumped On Syria

April 6th, 2015 9:21 AM

Last week, NewsBusters brought you "Stumped," as April Ryan struggled to cite a single foreign policy success by her super-fave, President Obama. In the best Hollywood tradition, this morning we bring you a sequel--Stumped II: Syria!

On today's Morning Joe, lugubrious lefty Eric Alterman of The Nation magazine -- the fact-troubled author of  ignoring-the-obvious classics like What Liberal Media? -- was stumped when Joe Scarborough asked him what the US should do about Syria. After humming, hawing and a couple of false starts, Alterman asked how much time they had.  Right, as if if only he had more time to expand on the nothing he had to say.  Shades of that SNL skit in which President George H.W. Bush seeks to skate away from a debate question only to be informed by the moderator that he had plenty more time. 

Rather than answering, Alterman tried to look backwards, claiming we'd never have ISIS or the situation in Syria if people would have heeded The Nation's warning not to go into Iraq in 2003.  That can be debated.  But presidents are paid to address the problems of the day, not to debate history, and surely President Obama would appreciate a helping hand from his kind of magazine, The Nation.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: So how do liberals, how does The Nation, how do you handle when you see something spiraling out of control like Syria over the last two or three years and we now have somebody at the United Nations, Samantha Power--hold on, let me finish--who wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning book about not getting involved in the Balkans and the horrors that followed because of that. Syria unfolds. People like me, conservatives like me, are saying, hold on, we've been an occupying force for 12 years. Let's not leap in there. But the consequences sometimes of not getting involved militarily can be disastrous too. So how does The Nation handle that? How does The Nation handle Syria, how does The Nation handle ISIS, because a lot of people are wringing their hands right now going, God, what do we do? 

ERIC ALTERMAN: First things first. If the country had listened to The Nation back in 2003 there would be no ISIS and there would be no collapse in Syria. The collapse in Syria is our function of the invasion of Iraq. And one thing --

SCARBOROUGH: So what do we do now? 

ALTERMAN: What do we do now? Well, first of all, I mean, what do we do now? We have how many minutes? It's a complicated problem. That's another reason why we have The Nation, because we deal with things at length.