How bad was Barack Obama’s timing yesterday on his speech attacking Republicans for “hurting” Americans while the Navy Yard shooting was still under way? All of the major networks — including MSNBC — cut away from the speech after Obama finished his remarks on the shooting, which means that most missed the partisan attack that followed, except for the flabbergasted reporters. Joe Scarborough blasted Obama and the media this morning, arguing that if George W. Bush had tried something like that, he would have been “killed” by the press yesterday and today. And his Morning Joe panel didn’t offer much of a defense, even as Scarborough explicitly pointed a finger at them:
“It was props — he brought his props along and he had this political,” Scarborough said. “And it was a harsh, partisan speech from the president of the United States on any day. But you know what? This president is frustrated and there is — he certainly has every right to do that. But on the day while people were hiding, while people were bleeding, while people were dying, while the nation was locked in on this — he’s talking about harsh partisanship and Republicans wanting to hurt people.”
“Mike [Barnicle], what is more partisan than not being able to put aside one of these stupid Washington battles — [postponing it] for a day,” Scarborough continued. “Never came under consideration. Never considered it. There’s not one person in the White House that said, ‘You know right down the block, people are dying right now and there’s a gunman on the loose and there’s local schools shutdown. The Capitol is on shutdown. And there may be a second or third gunman. And you know what? Maybe we’ll just give this speech tomorrow.’ Really, nobody even considered that? You believe Jay Carney — it never came under consideration? It’s unbelievable.” …
“I just can’t imagine if any other president did this — the ramifications,” Scarborough said. “George W. [Bush] — George W., can you imagine what certain people at this network in 2006, at this table … would have done? Mika [Brzezinski] would be killing George W. Everybody at this network would be killing George W. Everybody at The New York Times would be killing George W. Every journalist in Washington, D.C. would be killing George W.”
On cue, Brzezinski offered a lame defense, saying that the shooting put Obama in “a horrible position” — as if the President couldn’t have simply postponed the speech to another day, or at least the partisan-attack effort within it. Scarborough wasn’t having any of it:
“He’s president of the United States. He should be smart enough — the guy should be smart enough. There should be one person there that had the guts to say, ‘Mr. President, you know people are dying right now. You probably should not do this. You know, comfort the nation today. Bash Republicans tomorrow.’”
For the second time in a week, Jay Carney had to defend his boss over the decision not to postpone a speech when the situation changed. Needless to say, his protestations that the question of whether to put off the speech never arose didn’t exactly impress this panel, either.
“I’m not sure I would really believe Jay Carney about that,” John Heilemann said. “To say that it had been under consideration would simply open the door. My guess is that that may not have been not entirely true.”