Scarborough scolds MSNBC colleagues: Stop blaming Grover Norquist

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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It appears that self-proclaimed voice of reason Joe Scarborough woke up on the conservative side of bed on Tuesday morning.

While many others on MSNBC are blaming Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist for the failure of the super committee to reach a compromise on trimming the federal budget, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough isn’t one of them. On his Tuesday show, Scarborough called in from his vacation and excoriated his show’s co-host Mika Brzezinski and one its guests, former Tennessee Democratic Rep. Harold Ford, for blaming Norquist.

“Blaming Grover Norquist for this collapse is the lamest Democratic fiction since the Tonkin Gulf incident [used to justify American intervention in Vietnam]. Like LBJ said a couple of years later, they were shooting at ghosts or whales,” Scarborough said. “And yet that was his excuse to go into Vietnam. Grover Norquist, for anybody that works in Washington, D.C., understands that, like a lot of people in Washington, he’s got his own point of view. But Grover holds no magical power over anybody. … He’s not really a powerful guy. His idea may be powerful to conservatives, but he in of himself is not a powerful guy.”

The “Morning Joe” host touted his Monday Politico column, in which he lays blame for the failure on both parties. But he was clear that it is the politicians at fault, and Norquist was hardly part of that equation.

“Democrats have the president of the United States, right?, Scarborough challenged. “They’ve got the United States Senate — the world’s most deliberative body, the upper chamber. What else do they call them? America’s most exclusive club. They haven’t produced a budget in over 900 days. The president of the United States, a Democrat, appoints a commission to take care of the debt. And then he ignores everything that commission says. Anybody today trying to blame Grover Norquist or to suggest that Grover Norquist is somehow more powerful than the president of the United States and the United States Senate, which everybody in Washington knows runs Washington. It’s not the House. It is the upper chamber. And the Democrats own it. They are close to a monopoly of Washington, D.C., but to blame this on Grover Norquist is laughable.”


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Scarborough called Norquist a Democratic “straw man” and faulted the U.S. Senate Democratic leadership for not passing a budget while it had the opportunity.

“This is a straw man to end all straw men,” Scarborough said. “Grover Norquist has been a straw man. Republicans haven’t even been in charge of the House of Representatives for a year. It’s as if 2009 and 2010 and the massive deficits that were accumulated then didn’t even exist. But, again, I’m blaming both sides today. Both sides have their feet in ideological cement. But Grover Norquist is a straw man. … These same Democrats that said that George W. Bush abused the powers of office and, ‘Oh, the executive branch had become too powerful,’ are now suggesting Barack Obama, who, by the way, has been completely AWOL on this issue, is powerless? A man who put a debt commission in — he put Simpson/Bowles together and then completely threw them under the bus. Mika, you and I, if I ever come back, then I’ll shut up, we have to get Senate Democrats on this program and start asking them exactly why, in the midst of America’s greatest budgetary crisis in 235 years, they have refused, stubbornly, to produce a budget for over 900 days.”

Scarborough’s co-host, Mika Brzezinski, pushed back against Scarborough’s assertion, but Scarborough was not swayed.

“The president of the United States is still president of the United States,” he said. “Democrats still control the United States Senate. Grover Norquist’s idea may be a strong one. Grover Norquist has absolutely no power in Washington, D.C. other than the idea he carries. And I am so surprised that Democrats really believe that the presidency is as weak as they believe it is now. That this president couldn’t step forward and show at least a little bit of leadership. He has been AWOL since he and [House Speaker John] Boehner failed on the debt ceiling. He better engage quickly or else we’re going the way of Europe.”

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Jeff Poor