Carl Bernstein’s Vest Remembers

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Legendary reporter Carl Bernstein came on Morning Joe today to talk about the day he will remember while sporting a vest we will never forget. First, the historic event.

On this day in 1963, Carl covered the March on Washington and saw the speech Pulitzer Prize winning historian Jon Meacham called the most important in US history. Carl recalled watching the tides of American culture shift on that day even before Martin Luther King took the stage to deliver his speech. You could tell, Bernstein recalled, that race relations would never be the same again.

The speech was delivered against a deep skepticism among white politicians, including JFK himself. President Kennedy discouraged the organizers believing the march could hurt chances for the passage of a comprehensive civil rights bill.

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Kennedy was wrong. The King speech, along with Selma and the Birmingham church bombing, created a tidal wave of support that swept away even the strongest segregationist resistance. It was a time that Americans will never forget.

Which leads us (not really, but work with me here) to Carl Bernstein’s mohair vest. The troubling questions his sartorial selection raised will keep us awake tonight. America needs answers. Where does one purchase a vest like that? What members of Three Dog Night wore the vest before the band sold it to a Soho thrift shop? And does the vest compete with my pink pants for worst MJ fashion statement of the year?

These may be questions that no one can properly answer but at least we can agree on this: that Martin Luther King’s speech followed through on the promise of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. Today, we are much closer to that day when the dream of King becomes a reality because of what happened 50 Augusts ago.

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Mika Touches John Stamos to See If It’s Real

We had a good time with John Stamos this week on Morning Joe. He was on to talk about the new season of Necessary Roughness but ended up talking more about his hair. Mika asked if it was real and John told her to check for herself. She did and it was. John returned the favor by squeezing the gel from his hair and applying it to Mika’s shocked mane.

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Morning Joe’s 6 Year Highlight Reel

Morning Joe officially started in the Fall of 2007 but Phil Griffin actually let us start sneaking onset this time 6 years ago. So this unofficial observance was a great excuse to run 6 years of our greatest hits with Erin Burnett, Pat Buchanan, Tom Hanks, Barack Obama, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Oprah, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Ron Howard, Magic Johnson, Joe Biden, Brooklyn Decker and more. Click here to see 6 years of Morning Joe.

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Dr Brzezinski: Obama Policy ‘Chaotic’

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Dr Brzezinski was on Morning Joe days and criticized the White House response to Syria as “sporadic, chaotic and baffling” and based on “mass propaganda.” Here is the video that will displease many in the West Wing. It will be no more comforting to GOP neocons on the Hill.

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Ignatius: Dump Eric Holder

Our Morning Joe panel debated David Ignatius’ provocative Washington Post oped on why the real scandal surrounding Eric Holder’s Justice Department is that the Attorney General isn’t up to the job.

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Mika Hugs Her Kinky Boots

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Jordan Roth came by the set to celebrate his musical’s big night at the Tony’s. Mika celebrates by squeezing the boots a little too tight. I can only look on at the spectacle as a simple caveman lawyer who doesn’t understand the mysterious ways of Broadway types.

Congrats though to Jordan. A great night for Cyndi and your team!

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Glenn Greenwald Gets Testy

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Glenn Greenwald came on morning Joe this morning to discuss his controversial reporting on NSA surveillance. It was Glenn’s first interview since the source of the NSA leaks was identified in the press.

Greenwald got testy when Mika asked what specific laws the White House was violating. After accusing her of reading off of White House talking points, the Guardian columnist said the Obama Administration went well beyond the intended meaning of the Patriot Act.

Watch the fascinating exchange here.

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Remembering Bobby Kennedy

We talked about Bobby Kennedy today on Morning Joe on the anniversary of his death and remembered a political hero whose loss is still felt today.

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President Picks Humanitarian Hawks As Syria Boils

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Looking at the lead story in today’s New York Times, I couldn’t help but notice the parallels between this president’s shift in foreign policy personnel in his second term and the last president’s.

George W. Bush tuned out his hawkish advisors and began taking a more restrained approach to intervention in his final years to the chagrin of Dick Cheney. Barack Obama seems to be taking the opposite approach. After years of leading from behind on foreign policy disasters and ignoring the calls from neocons, Mr. Obama has appointed Susan Rice and Samantha Powers to two of the administration’s most significant foreign policy posts.

Expect a more aggressive approach to Assad’s Syria in the future.

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Is John McCain Right About Syria?

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I have found myself at odds with Senator McCain on matters of foreign policy more often than not since the end of the Cold War. The Soviet’s collapse in 1991 began the great unravelling of the GOP consensus on the use of military force across the globe. After the Iron Curtain’s fall, Twilight’s Last Struggle was replaced by ugly conflicts in countries that seemed less strategically significant. Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo didn’t pack the same global punch for GOP representatives as did countries like Germany, China and France. So many Republicans urged restraint in the Balkans and fought John McCain and Newt Gingrich’s wing of the party that championed intervention.

That Republican split in the 1990s was erased by September 11th. But as we move further from the horrors of that day, more Republicans are likely to begin moving away from McCain’s neocon camp in favor of policy rooted in realism, restraint and traditional Republicanism. Still, Sen. McCain spoke persuasively on the need to stem the tide of war-ravaged refuges destabilizing the region and why the United States cannot stand back while over 100,000 Syrians are murdered by the Assad regime.

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There are no easy answers for a country as war weary as America, but reflexively opposing any action toward Assad will also have its own grim consequences.

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Here is John McCain on Morning Joe today talking about the coming Syrian Conflict:

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Tom Hanks Remembers Nora Ephron

Tom Hanks came on Morning Joe to talk about his dear friend Nora Ephron and her play “Lucky Guy.” Tom Brokaw and Mike Barnicle shared memories of our friend who we love and miss. Nora was a remarkable woman and her words inspire us still.

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“And then the dreams break into a million tiny pieces. The dream dies. Which leaves you with a choice: you can settle for reality, or you can go off, like a fool, and dream another dream.”
–Nora Ephron

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Oklahoma Rising

As we move into a new month tomorrow, we remember the suffering of our friends in Oklahoma. Here’s a shot by @nbclou of twisted wreckage behind me of cars and trucks made unrecognizable by the 200 mph winds that ripped through Moore, OK. The destruction was horrific but it will take a lot more than a storm to keep these people down.

Our prayers remain with them.

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A Warning to my Fellow Republicans

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The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis was on Morning Joe today discussing the White House controversies that have put Barack Obama’ s administration on the defensive. Lewis, who was on to defend his honor after being attacked by Howard Dean yesterday, said conservatives attacking President Obama personally are participating in a fool’s errand. The Daily Caller reporter said that the job of journalists is to aggressively uncover every political misdeed but the job of Republicans is to handle these scandals more carefully than past GOP politicians. He’s right.

Today’s New York Times neatly summarizes the foolishness of Republicans in 1998 hoping to grow our small congressional majority by latching onto a variety of Clinton scandals. At the time, those scandals were driving talk radio and cable news coverage on a daily basis. Ratings shot through the roof and it seemed like going after Clinton was the right play. The voters thought otherwise. In what was one of the biggest surprises in recent political history, Democrats made dramatic gains in the 1998 elections. It was the first time since 1822 that the party in power at the White House picked up seats in their second term.

A day later, members of my freshman class removed Newt Gingrich from power. The speaker paid the ultimate political price for the historic loss but he was far from the only one responsible. We all should have done a better job tuning out the ideological extremists who wanted Clinton’s blood and instead focused on the issues that mattered most to voters. That experience taught me a great deal about politics. I hope it is a lesson that today’s GOP takes to heart.

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Politico Playbook on Morning Joe’s Success

FROM THE POLITICO PLAYBOOK – May 29, 2013

“ELEVATOR FODDER: MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” defied ratings gravity last month, despite CNN and HLN’s big gains following the Boston bombing and the Jodi Arias trial finale. According to Nielsen, more people watched “Morning Joe” in May than CNN, Headline News or CNBC. “Morning Joe” has had more total viewers than CNN or HLN in 37 of the last 38 months. Critical acclaim for the show included an article in April by AP Television Writer David Bauder: “Joe Scarborough must be doing something right to be attacked by both Paul Krugman and Mark Levin in the same month. … ‘Morning Joe’ has passed its fifth anniversary with a wider influence in politics … With its serious, often extended, discussions about politics and policy, ‘Morning Joe’ … has the type of guests that used to be regulars on network morning shows before their increased focus on crime stories and lighter topics.”

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Michele Bachmann’s Cautionary Tale

The sudden retirement of Michele Bachmann brings to an end a congressional career that cheered Tea Party activists and shocked members of the mainstream media. Her no-holds-barred approach fueled an explosive rise that led to her delivering the Tea Party’s response to the President’s State of the Union address and winning Iowa’s 2012 presidential straw poll. But like former one-term Florida congressman Alan West, her sometimes-inflammatory rhetoric also generated a long list of enemies that made her longterm viability on the national stage implausible.

As I wrote in Politico last year, flamboyance on the national stage may reward day traders in the short run but is never the long play if a public figure wants to really make a difference in her country’s future.

Media outlets love to focus on quirky Republican candidates that the most resentful rightwing activists embrace because it reinforces all their negative stereotypes about the conservative movement. Every stupid statement is amplified and every extreme policy position becomes fodder for front page news stories. In the end, figures like Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Alan West and now Michele Bachmann get washed out of politics. That should serve as a cautionary tale for ideologues that occupy the political extremes, Eventually they learn that their fall is as sudden as their rise.

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