Morning Joe Pundits: Obama 'Extremely Deft in a Very Tough Situation'

During Monday's Morning Joe, Time's Mark Halperin and co-host Mika Brzezinski helpfully provided some spin for the White House to borrow as President Obama finishes his prepared remarks for Monday evening's address to the nation on the events in Libya.

President Obama has received sharp criticism for his foreign policy concerning Egypt and Libya, but Halperin threw cold water on that, calling Obama's strategy "extremely deft in a very tough situation." Brzezinski agreed with his premise, adding that his "deft" handling is also in accord with promises he previously made.

"He's pro-democracy, right? He's anti-violence. He's anti-unilateral U.S. intervention," Halperin noted of Obama, trying to connect his current policy with the peacemaker he claimed to be as a presidential candidate.

(Video below. Comments begin at the 12:30 mark.)

He also touted the White House talking points. "There's a lot of instability caused by the NATO action, but the administration's view is there would have been more instability had there not been any intervention."

Some liberals have become disenchanted with the Obama administration for making promises during the 2008 campaign it has yet to deliver on - most notably continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and now involving the U.S. in military action in yet another country. Halperin and Brzezinski argued action in Libya was necessary to maintain stability in the region.

Furthermore, Brzezinski and Halperin agreed, President Obama has exhibited impressive leadership in assembling a coalition of nations in Libya - ensuring the United States is not acting alone. Brzezinski assumed that President Obama was responsible for the coalition of the nations in Libya. "[Obama] got international support, collective action," she noted. "That would be leading."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on March 28 at 6:13 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Isn't this a reasonable amount of time, though, Mark Halperin, to actually get to the nation, to get to the nation and address these questions, given the fact that this President, as many criticized him for waiting too long, clearly tried to negotiate, clearly tried to warn Libyan leaders Quaddafi and all that this was going to be a problem if he didn't step down. They waited it out, some say waited too long, and then finally moved in - I mean if you talk about making decisions on the fly, I actually think that compared to other Presidents, this was waited out to an extent that actually now has drawn criticism from Republicans.

MARK HALPERIN: I think you can nitpick what happened in Egypt, Obama policy in Egypt, and Libya, but in general I think they've been extremely deft in a very tough situation.

BRZEZINSKI: And consistent with what this President has said he was going to do.

HALPERIN: He's pro-democracy, right? He's anti-violence. He's anti-unilateral U.S. intervention, and I think part of his problem is to be a multi-lateralist at a time when a lot of Americans still want America to be number one, and America at the lead. He doesn't want to do that, that's not his instinct on this.

BRZEZINSKI: And actually I think he is, some could argue, he is leading. But there is - the criticism is that we're not doing it alone. Do we really want to do that? Do we want another Afghanistan, Pat Buchanan?


HALPERIN: U.S. policy has to reinforce stability, because we can't just let things spiral out of control in the region. There's a lot of instability caused by the NATO action, but the administration's view is there would have been more instability had there not been any intervention, because there would have been mass slaughter and mass exodus over the borders, and this was a way to try to keep things from being a humanitarian crisis, but also from spiraling out of control. It's had that effect.

BRZEZINSKI: And he got international support, collective action, which is very different. That would be leading.

BUCHANAN: Without China, without Russia, without -

HALPERIN: They were in it enough to not (Crosstalk) -

BUCHANAN: We've got five percent of the world behind us.


BRZEZINSKI: We went out and got the support of the world community, and much of it, to go in collectively in a very short period of time.

- Matt Hadro is News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.