Last night, I watched a little bit of the MSNBC coverage of the then upcoming State of the Union address. And what I saw so upset me that I didn’t even watch the event. It was big news yesterday that Iran had captured ten US Navy crew members. So it was time to start demagoguing! And there was Steve Schmidt on “liberal” MSNBC going on (and on and on) about how the president needed to change his speech and talk tough about Iran and under no circumstance should the president tout the Iranian nuclear deal because Iran is bad, bad, bad.
Chris Matthews fired back. He’s not an artful guy, but what he said was basically correct: the Republicans just look for anything to complain about the president, that it was a bad faith criticism, and that Schmidt himself was doing that. Schmidt defended himself by noting that his wife was in the Navy and through a kind of “some of my best friends are military,” claimed that he didn’t just want war.
As I recall, both Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes made the argument that the whole thing was a diplomatic issue and maybe the president would be wrong to politicize it and might put these very service members in jeopardy. All I could think at the time was that this was going to be how it was. It didn’t matter that the president wanted to use the SotU address to call for collaboration, it was all going to be about conservative jerks like Steve Schmidt going around claiming that Obama is weak because he doesn’t rip off his shirt and pound his chest.
At the actual SotU address, Obama went on with his speech as planned. He told the assembled conservative whiners that we had a solid economy, and, “The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth.” And then after the speech, the press was filled with headlines like this one in The Washington Post, Iran Releases Captured US Navy Crew Members. And there was this in The New York Times, Iran’s Swift Release of US Sailors Hailed as a Sign of Warmer Relations. Oh! So contrary to Steven Schmidt, it’s actually things like the Iran nuclear deal and the fact that Obama believes in diplomacy that made this whole thing a non-issue, except for the conservative ranters who are only interested in finding fault with the president because he happens to be a Democrat.
Now you might say that this is much ado about nothing. And that’s true in an absolute sense. It’s just that it is always true. What Steve Schmidt was really saying was that he doesn’t like the Iran nuclear deal, and he doesn’t like it because he doesn’t like the president, and he doesn’t like the president because he’s a conservative hack. Of course, what seems to have been lost in all of this is that it was actually America that was at fault. What Iran did is what we would have done in that circumstance. But any excuse for more whining from conservatives.
What exactly Steve Schmidt is doing on television is unclear to me. If he had been more successful, we would have President McCain, be at war with Iran right now, and have Sarah Palin embarrassing us all over the world. Someone on Twitter last night said that he should be on Fox News, but I countered that. Say what you will about Fox News, at least the people on it are interesting. Steve Schmidt is on MSNBC because the network is desperate to have some kind of conservative who can breath through his nose to sort of counter Rachel Maddow. I hope Schmidt realizes just how much he benefits from affirmative action.