Once again, we bear witness to Republicans recognizing social maladies only when those maladies affect them personally:
Joe Scarborough, the MSNBC host and former Republican U.S. Congressman, has long served as a sort of morning bulwark against the progressive anchors who take up the network’s primetime schedule. Now, he suggested he may play a more centrist role.
Speaking during a taping of CBS’ “Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Scarborough said he intended to leave the Republican party and become an independent. “I am a Republican, but I’m not going to be a Republican any more,” said Scarborough, seated next to his co-host Mika Brzezinski, while talking to Colbert. Scarborough cited the Republican party’s refusal to acknowledge President Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric during his campaign as well as his slow reaction to distance himself from David Duke, a politician and white nationalist who has had ties to the Ku Klux Klan.
Scarborough has expressed these thoughts in the recent past. But he has long maintained his Republican bona fides, even going so far as to sit with Congress during President Trump’s February joint address to Congress. Scarborough served in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican from Florida between 1995 and 2001.
Does Scarborough really think that the GOP only went bonkers recently? He hasn’t been paying attention all these years? Of course not. The GOP’s malevolence never harmed him…until now.
Perhaps Scarborough thought that somehow, “rational Republicans” would put a stop to Trump’s perfidy, would stand up to him in the name of protecting “conservative principles,” would wash their hands of him. Even young children would recognize that idea as nonsense.
Will Scarborough ever acknowledge the reality that the Republican Party and the larger American conservative movement are every bit as extreme and unhinged as Trump himself? Will he admit that the Koch brothers–whose rear ends Scarborough kissed for years–are just as radical and scornful of facts as the 45th President?
Probably not. False pride still flows through Scarborough’s veins. If he acknowledges what those outside of the conservative tribe have long recognized–that the American right has been growing infinitely kookier ever since Eisenhower left office–he would have to acknowledge his own substantial role in promoting conservative covfefe:
Long before he became a cable-news figure and two decades before he decided to leave the Republican Party, Scarborough was one of the leaders of the New Federalists, a group of eager and outspoken young conservatives who took a hard line against government spending. Among the group’s agenda items, according to a 2006 profile by the New Republic: the elimination of four Cabinet departments, huge cuts in congressional staff and term limits.
“Whatever it took to strip power from Washington, the New Federalists were prepared to do it,” former New Republic writer Noam Scheiber wrote…
[Scarborough] supported impeaching Clinton, eliminating the U.S. Education Department and cutting AIDS funding.
He also viewed the United Nations as an inconsequential and irrelevant body, a “passive bystander, an expensive toy but hardly a critical tool.”
In 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, he introduced a bill that would end the United States’ membership in the world governing body after a four-year transition period, the Washington Post reported.
The anti-Clinton radicalism of Scarborough and his former House Republican colleagues helped pave the way for the likes of Trump. I’d have more respect for Scarborough if he acknowledged and apologized for having recklessly lit partisan fires back in the 1990s and early-2000s, now that the results of those fires have sent him and those he loves to the burn unit. Will he ever admit his own role in clearing a path for the Donald’s wrath? My cup of morning joe will turn cold before he does.