Barnicle on Scarborough: Bush is Delusional

There’s been quite a bit of excitement in the blogosphere today over Joe Scarborough’s comments on Bush last night. Actually this is nothing new, considering how Scarborough previously asked if Bush is an idiot on his show. Scarborough also gave his opinions on Bush in an Salon interview last August. Still, it is of interest to hear Scarborough say what we all know, and to have others he is interviewing agree. It is worthwhile for the rest of the country to hear Mike Barnicle report that Bush is delusional.
Crooks and Liars has the video and the transcript follows:

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Tonight, the Democratic frontrunner for 2008 takes her pre-campaign campaign to “The View.”  But first, stop the presses.  George W. Bush says America is not winning the war.  Yes, those words coming from the man who‘s decided the only way to turn things around in Iraq is by sending in more troop,  Despite being told by the Joint Chiefs, Colin Powell and the man running the Iraq war, General Abizaid, that sending more troops to Iraq would only get more Americans killed.  Perhaps it was no coincidence that on the same day that Mr. Bush ignored his top generals‘ advice, General John Abizaid abruptly quit, announcing he would step down soon.

Now, seeming to confirm his opponent‘s worst suspicions that this president does not value the opinions of those with whom he disagrees, Mr.  Bush has now decided to go it alone in Iraq against the wishes of his allies, against the desires of his fellow countrymen, and yes, even against the advice of his own generals.  And in the face of this crisis, almost without precedent in U.S. history, the president offered this advice to the American people today.


GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  And I encourage you all to go shopping more.


SCARBOROUGH:  Here to talk about the crisis that seemingly becomes more dangerous by the day, here‘s Michael Crowley with “The New Republic,” Josh Green, senior editor for “The Atlantic Monthly,” and MSNBC contributor Mike Barnicle.

Michael, Crowley, you know, the situation seems to become more and more grim in Iraq, and the White House—the situation there is every bit as disturbing as each day passes.  How can this president thumb his nose at the very military leaders who are fighting this war in Iraq just because they know that more troops in Iraq will not win this war?

MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC”:  Yes, I mean, Joe, there‘s something very unsettling about what we‘re starting to hear from Bush.  For so long, his mantra was that he was taking his lead from the commanders on the ground, and that was this—you know, this ultimate card he could play of credibility…

SCARBOROUGH:  And Michael, as long as he said that—exactly.  As long as he said that, it didn‘t matter that only 12 percent of Americans support this president‘s effort to send more troops to Iraq.  But when all of his generals abandon him, when the Joint Chiefs abandon him, the admirals abandon him, when John Abizaid abandons him, when Colin Powell abandons him, everybody abandons him, he‘s standing alone!  He just doesn‘t seem to have any credibility.  And this is extraordinarily disturbing to me, as a guy who supported this war and supported this president twice.

CROWLEY:  No, there‘s something almost kind of alarming about it.  I mean, he‘s been telling us the whole time, These guys know what‘s best, I take their lead.  And they‘re saying, This is not—not uniformly, but many of them, many of the senior guys, the smartest guys, Abizaid, people with a lot of credibility, are saying this is not the way to go, and it looks likes he‘s not going to listen to them.  And there‘s something quite alarming about that.

You know, things are—you thought things couldn‘t get worse, and now you have a situation where, gosh, he‘s overruling the people who really do seem to know best.  And we‘re sort of in uncharted territory here, if you ask me.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, this is uncharted territory.  And Josh Green, I want you, if you will, to imagine, how would Republicans have responded if President Bill Clinton had ignored the advice of all of his Joint Chiefs, his top general in the war zone, his former secretary of state, and 80 percent of Americans?  Is it not a stretch to say that many Republicans would have considered impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton if this situation were identical?

JOSH GREEN, “THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY”:  I think they would have launched a coupe.  It probably would have been—probably would have been centered at Fox News.  They‘d be going crazy, the way, you know, frankly, quite a few of them are beginning to get with Bush.

You know, we heard yesterday for the first time, you know, at least an admission on Bush‘s part that this line about how we‘re winning the war in Iraq is no longer operative.  And he admitted to “The Washington Post” yesterday that while they‘re not winning the war, they‘re not losing.  So at least he‘s come a small step down the road toward being where everybody else is, you know, most importantly his top generals.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Mike Barnicle, as you know, I supported this war and I supported this man twice for president, and yet I‘m growing more disturbed every night by how isolated George W. Bush has become.  All the Joint Chiefs oppose his plan for Iraq.  His lead general opposes his plan in Iraq, and now he‘s going to quit because Bush has ignored him.  Colin Powell opposes his plan in Iraq.  And an “L.A. Times” poll is showing that only 12 percent of Americans support his plan for more troops in Iraq.  Shouldn‘t more Americans be disturbed at this unprecedented example of a White House that‘s in—and you can only call it this—a bunker mentality?

MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, I think, Joe, that more Americans ought to be truly depressed by what they saw today on TV, the latest press conference.  We have a president of the United States who is isolated.  He‘s delusional.  He is stubborn.  He has had one intervention that clearly didn‘t work, the Baker-Hamilton report.  He is clearly in need of another intervention.

You don‘t have to be von Clausewitz to figure out that urban warfare in the city of Baghdad, comparably the size of New York City, a tremendously hostile environment now, will become even more hostile with the introduction of more American troops.  It will do very little, if nothing, to lessen the level of violence in Baghdad.  The only…

SCARBOROUGH:  And you‘re just going more—you‘re only going to get more American kids killed…


BARNICLE:  You‘re going to get more Americans both killed and captured.  And the only services that we will have ended up improving in Baghdad are funeral services.

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt.  And Mike, I want you—once again, I want to put this “L.A. Times” poll up again just briefly.  Look at these numbers again.  Only 12 percent of Americans support this president‘s plan to send more troops to Iraq.  His Joint Chiefs all oppose him.  General Abizaid opposes him.  Mike, let me ask you, historically, has a president ever been so alone in his determination to fight a war, even when his generals and the American public oppose it?  I mean, there‘s not a more significant decision a president makes than war.

BARNICLE:  You know, the last…

SCARBOROUGH:  Have you ever known of any president being this alone?

BARNICLE:  No.  The last great—the most recent epic that this country has been through, a cultural and social epic that shattered the country, Vietnam, the president of the United States, Lyndon Johnson, as obstinate as he was for as long as he was, going down to the White House Situation Room, monitoring bombing runs, both strategic and tactical bombing runs over North Vietnam and South Vietnam, at least finally, at the end, toward the end, he listened to Clark Clifford and withdrew, withdrew himself from the presidency, a noble gesture in retrospect.

This president—this is dangerously close to a delusion that is going to result in death and carnage for years to come in the Middle East, too many Americans and too many people in the Middle East.

SCARBOROUGH:  And you talk about LBJ, but as Pat Buchanan told us last night, at no time was Richard Nixon or LBJ ever so isolated.  You know, Nixon, at least, even to the end, had 30, 40 percent of the country supporting him on Vietnam, had his generals supporting him, only one or two dissenters there.

Michael Crowley, I want us to do a little exercise here.  I want you to take a look at what President Bush used to say about military advice and what he‘s telling us now.


BUSH:  I will continue to be guided by the advice that matters, the sober judgment of our military leaders.

QUESTION:  Would you overrule your military commanders if they felt it was not a good idea?

BUSH:  That‘s a dangerous hypothetical question.

If they want more troops, they get more troops!  If they want less troops, they get less troops!

They are bright, capable, smart people whose opinion matters to me a lot.

Absolutely, we‘re winning.

People now understand the stakes.  We‘re winning, and we will win!

QUESTION:  Why did you drop your confident assertion about winning?

BUSH:  We‘re not succeeding nearly as fast as I wanted.


SCARBOROUGH:  Michael, it‘s stunning, isn‘t it?  I mean, talking about the advice that he would follow, and now he‘s just—just passing it by because they disagree with him.

CROWLEY:  Yes.  And Joe, you know, one point I‘d like to add.  I‘m glad you reminded me with that flashback.  At the time when he said, I was taking advice from the troops and they set the lead, I think we now see evidence that—he was taking advice from the commanders—that people on the ground in Iraq were saying months ago, Send us more troops, we don‘t have enough guys.  And in public, he was saying, No, no, no, we don‘t need it, they‘re not asking for it.  But I think we‘re seeing evidence that they were actually asking for it.

And so he‘s been doing this exactly backwards.  At a time when they did need more troops, he wasn‘t giving them.  And now they‘re saying it‘s too late, the window is closed, we don‘t need them, we don‘t want them, he‘s going to force them on them.  And there is just something very alarming about this.  I mean…

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, Michael Crowley, that‘s what‘s so fascinating about it.  We showed you those clips.  We could have gone back to February of 2003, before this war began.  Military leaders that claimed we needed more troops over there were mocked and ridiculed.  People that said it was going to cost more, mocked and ridiculed by the president, by Dick Cheney, by Don Rumsfeld.  So you‘re exactly right.  When our military men and women needed more troops, this administration didn‘t give it to them, and now that they‘re saying it‘s too late, don‘t send the troops, they‘re ignoring them again.

CROWLEY:  Yes.  I mean, you know, it‘s—now he finally comes around, but it‘s too late.  And look, unfortunately, it‘s a tragedy of this administration, but they‘re just—you get the feeling that the guy lives in a little bit of a bubble.  He‘s too slow to realize the realities on the ground.  He buys into his own rhetoric, which is just too idealistic and too out of touch with what‘s happening, and he‘s just too slow to respond.  So now he‘s finally coming around, and it‘s too late.  And it‘s very sad.

And again, there‘s just something unnerving.  I didn‘t like his answer to that question about it being a “dangerous hypothetical,” that we were treading into dangerous territory.  It‘s just a very sensitive, scary subject when you start talking about the commander-in-chief and the generals being in conflict.  And I have to say, it kind of gives me the heebee-jeebees.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Again, I think you‘re being—I think you‘re being very cautious in the language you‘re using.  I think this is very frightening, again, and I‘m speaking as a guy who supported this war from the very beginning and supported this president twice.

Josh Green what do you make, though, of the president finally saying we‘re not winning in Iraq?

GREEN:  Well, you know, I think it‘s the rare concession to reality.  I mean, you know, Bush has been so out of touch for so long.  You know, and the important thing in the comparison with Lyndon Johnson is that Bush isn‘t accountable to voters anymore.  He‘s not going to run for reelection in two years from now, so he really doesn‘t have to listen to anybody and hasn‘t been listening to anybody.

And I think that part of this concession that we‘re not winning the war in Iraq is simply admitting the obvious and trying to stanch the tide a little bit of criticism that he‘s getting for being out of touch, for you know, insisting as recently as a month or two ago that we‘re winning the war.  And I think what he‘s doing here is trying to tamp down the alarm a little bit and figure out some way to move forward.

SCARBOROUGH:  Mike Barnicle, do you take any comfort from the president finally admitting we‘re not winning in Iraq, or are you disturbed that it took him so long?

BARNICLE:  Joe, I don‘t think he knows what he‘s saying.  I don‘t think he comprehends what he‘s saying.  I don‘t think…

SCARBOROUGH:  You really think he is delusional?

BARNICLE:  I do.  I don‘t think he could explain to us tonight what he meant by what he said today.  At one point, he said we‘re not winning, but at another point, he said, you know, we‘re going to win a victory there.  He can‘t define victory.

The deaths in this war right now, at this stage in our life, our political life, our national life, and especially if there‘s a surge in troops in Baghdad—the deaths of American soldiers verges now on the criminal.  And I don‘t think that‘s too strong a statement.  It verges on the criminal.  There‘s no plan.  There‘s only this poppycock that you get from the president of the United States, who says one thing one moment, another thing the next moment, and he can‘t figure out what he is saying.

SCARBOROUGH:  So what‘s going on there, Mike?

BARNICLE:  What is going on there?  I think you have a president totally isolated from reality, totally delusional, kind of paranoid, figuring that everyone‘s against him, including his own Joint Chiefs of Staff, figuring that history 30, 40 years from now is going to prove him correct.  And he‘s going to have to weather this storm in the interim.  He‘s going to have to take the abuse, look at the polls plummeting down to 5 and 4 percent.  He‘s going to have to live and endure the casualties, which clearly affect him.  Clearly affect him.  That‘s the humanizing aspect of George Bush today.  But I think he‘s intent on riding out this storm, thinking that somewhere down the road, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., 30 or 40 years from now, that that version of Arthur Schlesinger will say he saw it correctly when nobody else did.

SCARBOROUGH:  But Mike Barnicle, thought, again, here we are.  This is a critical question for us to ask.  What can the Democrats do?  What can Republicans do?  The guy is at 12 percent—listen, this is what scares about the situation.  You‘ve got a president whose legacy is obviously wrapped around Iraq.  So he has an interest in seeing this—playing this card—playing this hand out until the very bitter end, come hell or high water, while the rest of us aren‘t as invested in it and we can say it‘s not working.  So what do we do?  What do Republicans do?  What do Democrats do?

BARNICLE:  I think one of the things that people in Congress on both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrat—Michael Crowley alluded to this in terms of troop levels.  This president and this Joint Chiefs of Staff were asked to increase troop levels years ago, months ago, from the inception of the war in Iraq—which is no longer the war on terror, it‘s just a miserable civil war.  This is not the war on terror in Iraq.

We can have Foreign Relations Committee hearings by Joe Biden, find out exactly who wanted the troops and when they wanted them.  And if any commander who has been in Iraq or is in Iraq right now says that he does not need any more troops, there, I would submit, is a commander who needs to be relieved of command.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Mike Barnicle, thank you so much for being with us.  Michael Crowley, thank you.  Josh Green, stick around.  It is a disturbing situation.  We‘ll be talking about it more.

Be Sociable, Share!

1 Comment

  1. 1
    Vigilante says:

    Too much national blood, treasure, and honor has been squandered to save Bush’s face and legacy. It’s time to pull out of Iraq, already.

Leave a comment