That Morning Joe call for Conyers to step down was missing... something (video)

When I came downstairs this morning to let the dog outside, I flipped on MSNBC just in time for the beginning of Morning Joe. As expected, there was a discussion of the situation with John Conyers slated for early in the show, along with mentions of Al Franken and Roy Moore. What followed was a rather strange trip down the rabbit hole which centered more on Nancy Pelosi’s exceedingly tone deaf comments than anything else.

Rather than launching into a discussion of the allegations against Conyers, his decision to surrender one of his leading committee assignments or his place in the entire #MeToo narrative, we were treated to a four-minute long tirade on how Nancy Pelosi was absolutely correct and that Conyers is indeed an icon. Oh, and also the seemingly casual but extremely direct declaration that Conyers needs to be removed from office… not because he may have been assaulting women, but because he’s too far gone mentally to do his job.(Mediaite)

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough launched into an impassioned defense of Rep. John Conyers, arguing on Morning Joe that despite the sexual harassment allegations, the congressman is still an American icon.

Scarborough was responding to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s train-wreck interview on Sunday’s Meet the Press, in which she stumbled over a number of questions on Conyers’s fate in Congress, and called the civil rights leader “an icon in our country.”

The Morning Joe co-host noted that Conyers might have dementia, stating “he’s clearly not capable of being a United States congressman.”

“But he is an icon,” co-host Mika Brzezinski said.

Scarborough then listed off Conyers’ achievements in an intense monologue, from serving in the Korean War to establishing the Congressional Black Caucus.

“I would call that an icon!” Scarborough exclaimed.

This is really something. I’m not sure what, precisely, but it’s definitely something. Before going any further, do yourself a favor and take a look at the video. (It’s only a few minutes long.) I’d give you a marker to skip forward to, but none of it works that well out of context. Pay particular attention around the two minute mark, however, where Scarborough describes how Conyers is “showing up for meetings in his pajamas” and lists other items which make the case that somebody needs to go pull the congressman aside and tell him it’s, “time to go home.”

On the one hand, if we’re being honest here, there’s not much to quibble over in what both Joe and Mika are saying. Over John Conyers’ long career of public service and activism, there is much to be admired no matter which side of the ideological divide you camp on. So the fact that Pelosi referred to him as “an icon” shouldn’t really have been the bone of contention here. It was the context in which she mentioned it and the fact that she backtracked over previous statements about other high-profile individuals who have similarly been accused of sexual harassment or assault.

And that’s what both Joe and Mika never seemed to get around to. The fact that he’s even been accused was barely mentioned. Should we be waiting for due process to take its course, even though such leniency is not being shown to many others in the same boat? No… apparently not. The MoJo crew wants Conyers to step down or be removed, but not because he may have assaulted some women. It’s because he’s lost his mind.

I have no way of knowing whether or not Conyers is past his sell-by date in terms of mental competence, but Joe certainly knows the man and speaks to many of his colleagues on the Hill regularly. I was under the impression we weren’t supposed to be diagnosing the mental stability of elected officials unless we’re trained physicians who have examined the patient, but so be it. Let’s say that he is. Does that somehow excuse his alleged behavior? Even if it’s a factor it’s still not an excuse. What’s next? We’ll find out that Al Franken has recurrent memory loss and an undiagnosed, physical butt-groping tick?

I contacted Scarborough to see just where he was going with this. His answer provides a bit more clarity on the subject, which seemed less than clear watching the video from this morning.

“Regardless of whether the allegations are proven or not, John Conyers needs to go home. Someone needs to protect the people working around him and to protect him from himself. I don’t know whether or not his mental condition contributed to his alleged behavior and even if so, it obviously doesn’t excuse it. He just needs to go home.”

Call John Conyers an icon all you like. Claim that he’s losing his mental faculties. But neither of those things remove him from the field of play if the sexual misconduct allegations against him are proven out in the same people’s court where the rest are being decided. Perhaps that’s what Joe was trying to say on the show, though the conversation wandered around a bit.