Columnist Barnicle Joins Scarborough In Expressing Alarm About Bush and Iraq

By: E&P Staff

MSNBC host, and former GOP congressman, Joe Scarborough, was once a strong supporter of the Iraq and the President, but he has turned harshly critical of both in recent weeks. This may have reached a climax of sorts on Wednesday night, when he welcomed, among others, Boston newspaper columnist Mike Barnicle to talk about the president’s latest statements on Iraq, which seemed to suggest that he was no longer listening to his generals (as he once said he always did).

This caused all of the guests, as well as the host, to suggest that Bush may be turning “delusional,” with Barnicle going so far as stating that perhaps the generals need a new commander-in-chief soon. Scarborough agreed, saying it was “uncharted territory” and “very frightening.” Bush, he added, is “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.”

Here are excerpts from the chat, with Barnicle at center stage.


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: 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: 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.

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