Watching MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough over these past few weeks has been an exercise in watching a desperately bitter man burn down his own principles as balm for his horribly misguided pride. What started out as a demagogic crusade from the former GOP congressman, has now turned into a reckless rampage to burn down two of the GOP’s brightest stars, Sens. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
For whatever reason, after the Sandy Hook massacre, Scarborough decided to go all-in to advocate for stronger gun control laws. He bet his pride that he could be the Republican media-hero (to the left) that pushed some form of legislation over the line. This was going to be Morning Joe proving to himself and to the world that he has some juice.
Scarborough immediately kicked things off with the kind of demagogic campaign only a Piers Morgan could love. He emphasized cherry-picked polls that backed his conclusions, emotionally blackmailed the opposition claiming they want terrorists to get guns, and invited guest after guest to confirm his own smug bias.
On top of his shameless shaming campaign, Scarborough never stopped warning the GOP about the consequences of defying him. Voting against gun control would be certain death at the ballot box, Scarborough claimed — even as he ignored poll after poll proving that wasn’t even close to the truth.
While Scarborough’s behavior during this time was reprehensible, it wasn’t anything new. Ego-driven hucksters and power-hungry blowhards in love with the sound of their own sanctimony have littered the television landscape for as long as there’s been television. But after gun control flopped, Scarborough turned a corner that has even surprised me.
After the Toomy/Manchin bill to strengthen background checks failed to overcome a Senate filibuster, Scarborough shifted gears. He went from warning the GOP about the electoral consequences of a no-vote, to weaponizing the three morning hours provided to him on MSNBC as a way to turn his warning into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For the past couple of days, and with the use of more skewed push polls, I’ve watched Scarborough gleefully attempt to tear down Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Kelly Ayotte. Rather than defend his own, Scarborough obsessively replays video that he hopes will embarrass them and then yuks it up with his slavish guests over what out-of-touch, lying idiots they are.
Moreover, Scarborough is sending a not-so-subtle signal to encourage others to join him in his nihilistic rampage. With the power of three hours of television, Scarborough is letting the left know that any polls they can skew or any manufactured YouTube moments they can create might win some precious television time.
Joe Scarborough might be the biggest coward I have ever come across in politics or national media. Here he is, the rare Republican gifted with three prime hours of television, but rather than use that opportunity to push what is good about the Republican Party and conservatism, he uses those hours to dishonestly suck up to the elite national media and aggrandize his own twisted, demented ego.
And now, Scarborough doesn’t even have the charity or decency to lose like a man. Given the choice between graciously moving on after losing a debate over a bill that would not have done a damn thing to stop the next Sandy Hook and using every resource at his disposal to burn down the Republican Party — Scarborough has grabbed hold of the latter with both hands.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC