Morning Joe   |  September 26, 2013

The problem with Obama's foreign policy strategy

Must-Read Op-Eds: Mika Brzezinski reads from a Washington Post editorial on President Obama's approach to foreign policy. Brzezinski also reads from Gail Collins' latest NYT column on Ted Cruz. Author Evan Thomas joins the conversation.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> all right. at 47 past the hour, a live look at the white house . the lights are on and the sun is coming up --

>> but nobody's home. [ laughter ]

>> you stop it. it's 47 past the hour.

>> look at the poll numbers and some people would say i the lights are on but nobody's home.

>> look at some republican numbers.

>> we're good. we survived the faux filibuster. we are more united now as a party than we have been in a long time.

>> here with us now former news week editor at large and princeton university professor evan thomas .

>> now that's not a lesser ivy. right? so let's get it clear. ted cruz would not study with people from lesser ivies. so you have harvard, yale, princeton .

>> ooh.

>> those are the three ivies. ted cruz would --

>> they are not talking a lot about ted cruz at princeton .

>> or harvard.

>> no.

>> really?

>> princeton students aren't proud uh.

>> he proved he couldn't count to 51.

>> " ike 's bluff" is out now in paperback. congratulations. for the must reads we have chosen this one from the washington post editorial we can all talk about. the board writes trouble at the core of u.s. foreign policy . in his second inaugural address president obama delivered a ringing pledge of u.s. support for american ideals around the world. just eight months later the idealism is gone. in what may be the most morally crimped speech by a president in modern times mr. obama ruled out the promotion of liberty as a core interest of the united states . instead he told the u.n. america's core interest consists of resisting aggression against allies, protect ing the free flow of energy, dismantling terrorist networks and stopping the development and use of wmds to say america cares more about the flow of oil than the rights of men and women is to diminish is u.s. soldiers and diplomats who sacrificed to far higher purpose than mr. obama would acknowledge. it is to cede the exceptionalism argument to vladimir putin .

>> evan, the last few months have been reveal ing into the mindset of barack obama who has repeatedly told americans and the world what we can't do. we can't control events in syria. we can't stop a man from killing a hundred thousand of his own people, who's crossed the red line twice. with gadhafi, we must lead from behind. it is a break from just about every other president's view of what the united states is. is it not?

>> it's not confident. that's for sure. a lot of americans agree with him. we live in an age where people don't want to mess with foreign affairs . he's not out of step with the american people . he seems to be making it up as he goes along. you know, i wrote a book about eisenhower . he would probably approve of where we are now. using force to avoid getting into a fight and getting into a negotiation. eisenhower would like the outcome but would not like the way it came about. he would be shaking his head over obama making it up as he goes along.

>> eisenhower was so calculated. people famously talk about the brinksmanship strategy. you talk about ike 's gamble. ike led from a position of strength, including -- even during the suez the crisis -- basically telling the british, we are going to destroy your currency if you don't back off.

>> ike was good at using the appearance of strength to avoid war. that was his foreign policy . i think he would approve what obama is doing. it's the way obama does it. obama has an air of peevishness at times like he's doing us a big favor to be president of the united states . i'm sure eisenhower would not have liked that.

>> i'm sure as well.

>> new york times. ted cruz is a roadblock with a princeton debate medal but managed to achieve what no one from the president to the american people has been able to do -- unite the vast majority of congress around one great idea which is, in this case, hatred of senator ted cruz . his 21-hour performance was apparently not an official filibuster but since nobody wants to discuss senate rules let's reel call "mr. smith goes to washington" when senator jimmy stewart stood up in defiance of his misguided or corrupt colleagues and filibustered until he collapsed on the floor. nothing this week was nearly that cool. this is all painful.

>> what's his next act? what's the next act? doesn't he know at some point he needs to get things passed for the people of texas?

>> he seems determined to be a fringe figure. he seem as smart guy . he's a brilliant debater. maybe he has a long term plan. it's tough to see what it is. you see marco rubio trying to play the inside game on immigration reform . gets hammered by tea parties looking for ways to move to the right. ted cruz tries to play the outside game and is now getting hammered by the accomplishment, the john mccain of the world.

>> isn't the route working?

>> the right route is getting elected to the senate. i'm serious. working longer than barack obama did in the senate before deciding you want to be president of the united states . this is a recipe for disaster.

>> i would argue they are not even going to washington, being a governor and having your own platform and having things.

>> executive leadership.

>> he's not alone in the house. there is a band of house republicans who believe in what we he's doing.

>> there are far fewer after ted cruz pushed them to do smangd ran to the house to hold a press conference and attacked. that's not the best way to whip up support.

>> they believe what they believe.

>> evan, thank you very much.

>> thank you.

>> your book is " ike 's bluff" out in paperback now.

>> amazing book.

>> coming up, tom coburn and peter king join us. more " morning joe " when we come