Scarborough Lashes Out at Cain and Bachmann: They Don't Understand 'Basic Policy'

According to MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann"don't even understand basic policy, basic economics, basic foreign policy." The Morning Joe anchor on Tuesday expounded on a Politico op-ed in which he denounced a number of the GOP presidential candidates as "clownish characters."

When MSNBC executives deny their network is dominated solely by liberals, they often reference Scarborough. However, the former Republican Congressman has been aggressively negative towards the GOP field. On Tuesday's show, he mournfully wondered, "What's wrong with a political party that Michele Bachmann takes the lead and Herman Cain takes the lead?" [MP3 audio here.]

In his Politico op-ed, Scarborough mocked, "All the world is a stage and in this year's GOP presidential race, it is a reality show soundstage cluttered with clownish characters auditioning for the role of commander in chief." He further lectured the "train wreck" field and singled out Herman Cain:

All of this leads us to Herman Cain, a man so woefully ill-prepared for the presidency that his lone economic adviser brags about being ignorant of economic theory with as much gusto as candidate Cain mocks those who would suggest he knows little about world politics.

The anchor qualified the comment about Bachmann not understanding "basic policy" by backtracking and suggesting it applied more to Sarah Palin and not "quite as much" to the Minnesota Congressman.

He didn't amend the suggestion about Cain.

Scarborough has previously excoriated Bachmann as a "joke" and insisted there's "no way" Rick Perry can beat Obama.

A transcript of the October 18 exchange, which aired at 6:14am EDT, can be found below:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: What's wrong with a political party that Michele Bachmann takes the lead and Herman Cain takes the lead and we could go through all the other people that have taken the lead? What is wrong with a group of people in a political party that will reward this type of behavior that has nothing to do with ideology? See, that's the thing. It has nothing to do with ideology. Nothing. It has nothing to do. That's one of the problems. You get all of these people that go out there. They say these hateful comments. And everybody just assumes they're conservative, like in the base. He's a fighter. I'm mad, too. Electrocute illegal immigrants.

That has nothing to do with Herman Cain actually being a small government conservative or Michele Bachmann being a small government conservative or Rick Perry bragging about being a small government conservative. It has nothing to do with that. It's all sort of sound and fury signifying nothing.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Slogans, as my dad said yesterday.

SCARBOROUGH: And elevating these people to the top of the field.


SCARBOROUGH: The question is, what is it about this audition process? And I ask this. What is it about this, in my Politico piece today, what is it about this audition process that discourages the Jeb Bush and the Chris Christie and Paul Ryan and the Mike Pences?

BRZEZINSKI: That weeds in the crazies?

SCARBOROUGH: I mean, mainstream. You can say what you want about Mike Pence if you're a liberal, but Mike Pence can sit there and describe the tax. He's not going to come up with a cockamamie 999 plan. He is a main street conservative. You know, you can talk about the governor, Mitch Daniels from Indiana. I have real issues with what he did when he ran Bush's budget office. But, he is a main street Republican. He is a solid guy and he understands policy. I'm sorry. I don't mean to insult anybody here, but it's very obvious watching Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann- not Michele Bachmann quite as much as Sarah Palin- and others that have gone to the top of this race. They don't even understand basic policy, basic economics, basic foreign policy. You watch them in the debate and you can figure that out. But, they're in first place. What's happening?

— Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.