Rep. Peter King ridiculed MSNBC host Thomas Roberts’ for his “incredibly absurd” claim that an increased U.S. presence to combat terrorists in Iraq — despite public opposition — would represent “a dictatorship like what these people are trying to fight against.”
The New York Republican appeared on “Morning Joe” Tuesday to push for broader action by President Obama against fighters from the Islamic State (IS), who have killed thousands of innocent civilians and threatened hundreds of thousands more during their assault on America’s Kurdish allies in northern Iraq.
Roberts claimed that Obama’s cautious approach involving limited airstrikes is “exactly what the American people want. Do not get us back in.”
“Well, leadership is not necessarily doing what people want,” King replied. “If Winston Churchill had done that in the 1930s he wouldn’t have warned about Nazi aggression and he would’ve given into Chamberlain.”
“So the president should just do what you want?” Roberts said aggressively.
“No, the president should do what’s right,” King said, adding that many people in the intelligence and military communities agree that stronger action against IS will eventually be required.
“But you’re elected by the American people, you serve the American people,” Roberts protested. “You can’t just go around being a dictatorship, like what these people are trying to fight against in these countries that you’re trying to say that we’re saving them from.”
“Well, first of all, that is incredibly absurd,” a stunned King pushed back. “I can’t believe you’re serious about that. You’re saying that if the president realizes that he has to change policy to save the lives of the American people and to protect American interests, he shouldn’t do it? He should be locked into a policy no matter what? That’s absurd.”
Roberts tried to backtrack, noting instead that this is “a completely different calculation” from when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.
“Yeah, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” a perplexed King retorted. “Of course it’s different! It’s a different situation! It’s a terrorist organization, the first time we’ve had a terrorist organization control such a large landmass.”
“And for you to say that the president has to lock himself in to what he said two or three years ago — if he was wrong then, he should admit it,” the lawmaker explained. “Say circumstances have changed. Circumstances have changed.”