Joe Scarborough: I'm not going to be a Republican anymore

Alternate headline: “Joe Scarborough was still a Republican?” He’s been ranting about gun control for years!

The best thing about this is the number of righteously bitchy tweets it unleashed last night among anti-Trumpers who blame Scarborough, not incorrectly, for having helped create the Frankenstein that’s now chased him out of the GOP.

Hate him all you want. He and Mika know what they’re doing.

My job description all but requires me to fit this otherwise banal announcement into some larger political framework, so here you go: If Scarborough’s thinking of running against Trump in 2020, whether for self-promotional reasons, as revenge for Trump’s shots at him and Mika, or because he genuinely believes making Trump a one-termer is an urgent national priority, it makes way more sense to do it as an independent than as a Republican. He’d get obliterated in a primary as a Kasich-style centrist GOPer, but with enough money behind him and enough of a downturn in Trump’s job approval, he could pull enough center-right votes away from Trump in the general election to make life harder for the president in a tight race with a Democrat. He has a lot of friends in politics both from his congressional days and from “Morning Joe.” All he’d need are a few rich Trump-hating centrists like Mike Bloomberg to pony up and it’s not crazy to imagine him pulling, say, five percent of the Republican vote as an independent. The question is whether he’d unintentionally end up pulling a similar number of Democratic votes from the other party’s nominee too, defeating the entire anti-Trump purpose of his effort. In the end, his support might be too purple to do Trump any real damage. Especially when you consider that Scarborough seems likely to do better in blue states than in Rust Belt battlegrounds.

Anyway, is his hair usually this Eraserhead or was it purposely jacked up last night on Colbert’s show for the midlife-crisis musical performance? In terms of pure altitude, I’d put him somewhere between early Elvis Costello and vintage Lyle Lovett.