On Friday, shortly after President Donald Trump's announcement of air strikes against Syria, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow twice put on her tinfoil hat, alleging that there is a "perception that the president may have ordered these strikes in part because of scandal," and that Trump's decision "may have ... (been) inflected by the scandals surrounding him."
Maddow even contended that this alleged perception of scandal-driven decision-making will "affect the impact and the effectiveness of these military strikes."
RACHEL MADDOW: As we follow the news in these incredible days that we have been having recently in our country, it is worth considering on a night like tonight that there are — there are national security consequences to having a presidency that is as chaotic as Mr. Trump’s presidency, a presidency that is as consumed by scandal and criminal intrigue as his presidency is.
It has national security consequences when the President orders missile strikes on Syria on a night like tonight. The strategic effect of that strike will be assessed by both our allies and our enemies. Other countries and entities involved in the fight in Syria are considering their role in Syria are going to try to figure out how they’re going to react to this U.S. strike.
It will affect those other countries’ view of this strike. It will affect their reaction to it. It will therefore affect the utility of this military strike if the President of the United States is believed to have issued the order to launch this strike tonight even in part because people think he wanted to distract from a catastrophic domestic scandal that is blowing up at home at the same time.
The perception that the president may have ordered these strikes in part because of scandal will affect the impact and the effectiveness of these military strikes. Unavoidably. Even if the tail is not wagging the dog. Even if you give the President every benefit of the doubt.
Even if his calculations about whether to launch this action against Syria tonight was taken with absolutely no regard for what else is going on in the President’s life right now, what else is going on in the President’s life right now unavoidably creates a real perception around the globe that that may have been part of the motivation both for what he did and particularly for when he did it.
Roughly ten minutes later, Maddow couldn't resist going there again, with NBC White House correspondent Hallie Jackson:
MADDOW: Hallie, I have to ask you about — because of that in particular, I have to ask you about whether there have been — there’s been sort of appreciation of the sensitivities that the country might feel about this decision given the other news that’s been breaking around the President.
Federal prosecutors in New York confirmed today that the President’s long-time personal lawyer is under criminal investigation. Just a couple of hours ago McClatchy news service reported that a key element of the Christopher Steele Russia dossier that relates to the President’s personal attorney Michael Cohen is something that Robert Mueller’s investigators have received evidence to support.
The President has been absolutely off the hook upset at the FBI and the Russia investigation in particular over the last couple of days with James Comey now doing his first interview about his new book, which accuses the President of all sorts of things.
Are they sensitive to the perception that the president may be making this announcement to distract from his woes?”
A rough translation of Maddow's blather: "We in the press think the rest of the world should adjust its perception of and policies relating to U.S. leadership based on the likely false impression we have created of a chaotic Trump White House headed by a perpetually angry man." Readers who think this is an exaggeration should note that CNN's Brian Stelter was playing the same tired "pissed, flailing and upset" tune on Friday.
Meanwhile, according to the Heritage Foundation, Trump accomplished more during his first year in office than even Ronald Reagan. The press is quite disappointed that the public is largely tuning out its "chaos and anger" narrative.
Readers here will have a tough time recalling any establishment press member questioning whether President Obama was serious about doing something about Syria after his series of poor reactions to other international events, particularly the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack. That track record was far more important to other nations than "what else was going on in the President's life."
Beyond the fact that four Americans died in Benghazi, and even beyond the now-proven dishonest attempt to blame the attack on an obscure anti-Islamic video, what was especially striking from the point of view of the rest of the world's was the administration's at least three-week delay in even beginning its investigation of the attack scene and its clear disinterest in apprehending the attack's prime suspect, who reportedly lived "the cafe life" and didn't even feel the need to go into hiding for nearly two years after attack before he was finally arrested.
Obama's handling of Benghazi, particularly its aftermath, sent a clear signal to the rest of the world that he wasn't really serious about containing genuine threats — and the fact that the press was actively promoting the fiction of his "scandal-free" presidency did not matter.
Obama's "leading from behind" approach would explain why he failed to convince even longtime ally Great Britain to assist in acting on the Syrian crisis in 2013. In September 2016, the Washington Post's Anne Applebaum tried to pin the previous three years' "physical, human and political damage on an unprecedented scale" in Syria on UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Applebaum failed to address why anyone would follow the non-leader Obama's U.S. government had become.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.