Morning Joe Unanimously Rejects NYT Columnist’s Call for Obama to Attack Trump

August 25, 2017

 Geist began by quoting from Williams’ piece: “Caroline Randall Williams writes in The New York Times a piece titled, ‘President Obama, Where Are You?’ It reads in part, ‘President Obama, now is the time to start talking….Mr. Obama, now is not the time to follow the keep-quiet rules while the new administration plays moral equivocator to a much aghast nation. It’s time for you to come back.’”

He went on to pointedly challenge her argument: “…what do you think he would accomplish by going out and let’s say making a speech…condemning the sitting President of the United States? Do you think there’s a risk that that would further tear apart the country?”

Minutes later, Commentary magazine Associate Editor Noah Rothman ripped into Obama, pointing to the utter political devastation of the Democratic Party:

The President, over the course of his presidency from 2009 to 2017 lost 1,042 Democrats their seats. We all remember what happened with Congress , we all remember what happened with the governorships. 25 states are in 100% Republican control. The President made 150 down-ballot endorsements in legislative races where you have the Democratic farm team. The result was they lost chambers in Iowa, Minnesota, and Kentucky. The Democrats are already engaged in the Trump era. Republicans are a little discouraged. Do you think that getting President Obama off the seat might be counterproductive? Might the President getting off the rest chair engage Republicans in a way they’re currently not engaged?

Following the interview with Williams, Geist turned to left-wing pundit Howard Dean: “Governor Dean, what do you make of the idea that President Obama needs to be doing more? Would that be helpful in this moment?” Even Dean warned against it: “Well, from a political point of view, no. You only have one president at a time and to violate that would actually give Trump a target at which he could, you know, carry on – Trump loves to have a convenient whipping person, and that would be Obama.”

The former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee chairman then made an outlandish comparison between the election of Donald Trump and deadly incidents of violence in American history:

We have got to transfer this over to the next generation. The Trump election, I think, was in a sense their generation’s Edmund Pettus Bridge or Kent State and their principles have been violated as a whole generation. But they’re going to have to fight through this by themselves. Obama can’t do it, he is not the president anymore. You only have one president at a time. And I think if he gets into this big time, he makes it easier for Trump, not harder.

Late in the 7 a.m. ET hour, during an interview with former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, political analyst John Heilemann wondered: “What do you say to that columnist and what’s your general view about your former boss, President Obama, and what kind of role he should have as an ex-president in terms of – specifically in terms of talking about President Trump and the current administration?”

The Obama administration cabinet official voiced his skepticism: “I think consistent with history, consistent with past practice, presidents are entitled to recede from the stage and, you know, give their successor some space….And he should, therefore, be careful and selective about when he chooses to inject himself into our politics and into our national conversation.”

Another panel discussion followed in the 8 a.m. ET hour, where MSNBC anchor and staunch Obama supporter Al Sharpton weighed in. He joined the chorus of those telling the former president to stay quiet:

But politically, I think that the best thing that could happen to Donald Trump is he get in a back and forth with Barack Obama. He would want that….she should look at the fact that all Donald Trump needs to do so people will ignore these kind of catastrophic moves he’s making is for him to get in a battle like Mayweather-McGregor with he and Barack Obama. That’s what the he wants.

Heilemann agreed: “…not only does Trump want a foil, but that Obama is the perfect foil. Because the moment that Obama steps forward and starts criticizing him….Trump then fights with Obama….suddenly this looks to a lot of Americans like the same old fight…”

Rothman came back in and reminded viewers:

…he has a reputation to rehabilitate. He left the Democratic Party in tatters and he has to help reestablish that. Secondly, the notion that the will of the voters should be disrespected in this sense is frankly something that Democrats would reject when Republicans felt the precise same way in 2009 and 2010. They felt like things were going off the rails and somebody had to speak up about it. It would be a dereliction of responsibility to do so and it would also demonstrate a lack of faith in the system.

Sharpton fretted that any public engagement by Obama “may unite the Senate and the House Republicans around Trump because they don’t want to look like they’re voting with Obama.” He concluded: “So the question is, do we have an objective or do we just want somebody to make us feel better for 24 or 48 hours?” Geist replied: “It would be counterproductive, actually, as you point out.”

Here are excerpts of the August 25 coverage:

6:46 AM ET

BARACK OBAMA: Although there are all kinds of issues that I care about and all kinds of issues that I intend to work on, the single most important thing I can do is to help in any way I can prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton and to take their own crack at changing the world.

WILLIE GEIST: That was former President Barack Obama at the University of Chicago in April, his first in just a handful of public appearances since he left office in January. Our next guest says while the President did deserve a break from the spotlight, the country needs him to start speaking out again.

Caroline Randall Williams writes in The New York Times a piece titled, “President Obama, Where Are You?” It reads in part, “President Obama, now is the time to start talking. I recognize and respect your deliberate approach to navigating these fraught times, but this relentless subtlety has become wearisome. Mr. Obama, now is not the time to follow the keep-quiet rules while the new administration plays moral equivocator to a much aghast nation. It’s time for you to come back.”        

GEIST: So, President Obama privately is not happy with what’s been happening in the country in the seven months since he left office, but what do you think he would accomplish by going out and let’s say making a speech, something like Mitt Romney did during the campaign, condemning the sitting President of the United States? Do you think there’s a risk that that would further tear apart the country?

CAROLINE RANDALL WILLIAMS: So, here’s the thing. I don’t think that – I’m not asking for condemnation. What I’m asking for is some insight, you know, from those of us who are sitting here bewildered. Some insight into what we can do from somebody who knows how the machines of politics work, more informedly. Because I am a private citizen who tries to be civic-minded and engaged, but I’m interested in knowing from somebody who really has a sense of how things do get done, what he thinks we need to be doing.

Because – and also there’s so much language of chaos that’s coming down from Washington and from the media right now and I want to know what his take on some of that is because I think the genuine sense of – I mean, I wrote panic in my article and I don’t know that panic is – panic might be a bit extreme – but there is a sense of unrest that I am really invested in understanding and knowing if the scale of my discomfort is reasonable. And I think that he is somebody that I would look to and trust his insight in that.  

NOAH ROTHMAN [COMMENTARY MAGAZINE]: The President, over the course of his presidency from 2009 to 2017 lost 1,042 Democrats their seats. We all remember what happened with Congress , we all remember what happened with the governorships. 25 states are in 100% Republican control. The President made 150 down-ballot endorsements in legislative races where you have the Democratic farm team. The result was they lost chambers in Iowa, Minnesota, and Kentucky. The Democrats are already engaged in the Trump era. Republicans are a little discouraged. Do you think that getting President Obama off the seat might be counterproductive? Might the President getting off the rest chair engage Republicans in a way they’re currently not engaged?

GEIST: Governor Dean, what do you make of the idea that President Obama needs to be doing more? Would that be helpful in this moment?

HOWARD DEAN: Well, from a political point of view, no. You only have one president at a time and to violate that would actually give Trump a target at which he could, you know, carry on – Trump loves to have a convenient whipping person, and that would be Obama. There is a way to do this, but you have to really thread the needle.

The other thing, I think Caroline’s generation is fantastic, but they have to make their own way now. I mean, we – it’s our job to coach, it’s our job to lift up. I think the President, former President, is trying to do that, as are a lot of us. I’m hoping the next presidential candidate is under 50, or at least under 55 in our party. We have got to transfer this over to the next generation. The Trump election, I think, was in a sense their generation’s Edmund Pettus Bridge or Kent State and their principles have been violated as a whole generation. But they’re going to have to fight through this by themselves. Obama can’t do it, he is not the president anymore. You only have one president at a time. And I think if he gets into this big time, he makes it easier for Trump, not harder.

7:44 AM ET

HEILEMANN: We had on the show earlier this morning a young African American woman who was writing about President Obama in an op/ed piece where she expressed her desire to see him be speaking out more forcefully, more actively on the situation as it’s unfolding in the Trump administration. I’m curious, you obviously are now out in public, you’re coming on shows like this and having a public voice. What do you say to that columnist and what’s your general view about your former boss, President Obama, and what kind of role he should have as an ex-president in terms of – specifically in terms of talking about President Trump and the current administration?

JEH JOHNSON: I think consistent with history, consistent with past practice, presidents are entitled to recede from the stage and, you know, give their successor some space. And that certainly was the approach of George W. Bush before President Obama. And I’m sure President Obama feels very strongly about the issues, he has chosen to lend his voice from time to time since January 20, and I believe he will continue to do so. But former presidents occupy, I think, a unique role and I’m sure that there are things that President Obama will want to pursue on the national stage, on the world stage, that are important to him. And he should, therefore, be careful and selective about when he chooses to inject himself into our politics and into our national conversation. I totally respect that and agree with it.

8:36 AM ET

GEIST: Rev, let me start with you, get your reaction to that idea that President Obama should step forward. He’s come out a few times, he’s chosen his spots so far through the first seven months, should he do more?

AL SHARPTON: I mean, I understand Miss Williams’ frustration, but anyone that has known President Obama knows he’s always been very measured and he’s not going to change personalities because of the Trump hysteria. But politically, I think that the best thing that could happen to Donald Trump is he get in a back and forth with Barack Obama. He would want that. He wants for his base to make this about him and Obama, rather than his policies. So even though I understand her frustration and I understand her panic when she hears somebody says the apocalypse is upon us, she should look at the fact that all Donald Trump needs to do so people will ignore these kind of catastrophic moves he’s making is for him to get in a battle like Mayweather-McGregor with he and Barack Obama. That’s what the he wants.

GEIST: Howard Dean made that point earlier on the show, exactly your analysis of it.

HEILEMANN: You know, I think the Rev’s analysis, Howard Dean’s analysis on Barack Obama are right. I actually have talked to a fair amount of people around the former President about this and it’s actually even a different – he understands this thing. He also understands another thing, which is that not only does Trump want a foil, but that Obama is the perfect foil. Because the moment that Obama steps forward and starts criticizing him – and the President, former President Obama is very aware of this – he starts to criticize Trump, Trump then fights with Obama. And very quickly, that becomes the most conventional kind of political fight. Donald Trump’s the Republican, Barack Obama’s the Democrat. And for Trump, who’s greatest risk is being categorized as unusual, as extreme, as out of the ordinary, suddenly this looks to a lot of Americans like the same old fight…

ROTHMAN: I don’t believe that the President is stepping out of his private sphere out of a sense of civic and moral obligation, he has a reputation to rehabilitate. He left the Democratic Party in tatters and he has to help reestablish that. Secondly, the notion that the will of the voters should be disrespected in this sense is frankly something that Democrats would reject when Republicans felt the precise same way in 2009 and 2010. They felt like things were going off the rails and somebody had to speak up about it.

It would be a dereliction of responsibility to do so and it would also demonstrate a lack of faith in the system. President Donald Trump has a lot of Republicans who are hemming him in as a result of our constitutional checks. People who demonstrate a lack of faith in that are demonstrating a lack of faith in the Constitution, itself.

GEIST: Well, it does raise the question, if he did step forward, if President Obama stepped forward, what would that mean? Does it mean he delivers a speech? Does it mean he tries in some way to rally Democrats in Congress against the President? How far would he be expected to push it? And then again, is that sort of an undermining of the presidency?

SHARPTON: He may unite the Senate and the House Republicans around Trump because they don’t want to look like they’re voting with Obama. So the question is, do we have an objective or do we just want somebody to make us feel better for 24 or 48 hours?

GEIST: It would be counterproductive, actually, as you point out.

(First reported by mrc Newsbusters)   https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/kyle-drennen/2017/08/25/morning-joe-unanimously-rejects-nyt-columnists-call-obama-attack   (August 25, 2017)

Want more BFT? Leave us a voicemail on our page or follow us on Twitter @BFT_Podcast and Facebook @BluntForceTruthPodcast. We want to hear from you! There’s no better place to get the #BluntForceTruth.

Next Post
Previous Post