Washington Post columnist David Ignatius punctures the comfortable bubble manufactured by the "Morning Joe" panel, saying that President Obama's seeming lack of concern about ISIS is not part of some grand strategy to downplay the threat, but simply incompetance.
"I think the 'JV comments' were a disasterous mistake," he said. "And both the president and his director of national intelligence said 'we underestimated ISIS.'"
"It is his style to a fault to be dry and detached and if we have learned anything about the man in seven years, that is who he is."
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC: I want to ask you David what you think the strategy is behind down-playing ISIS -- and clearly, it is a strategy because we've heard it again and again they don't have the capability to strike, and they're killers with social media, and we shouldn't talk about them so much because it makes them feel important. What is the thinking in the White House saying those things?
DAVID IGNATIUS, WASHINGTON POST: I don't hear a strategy to down play ISIS? I think they're trying to put together a military campaign on the ground.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: David, I have to stop you because your first sentence -- and you know we've got the greatest amount of respect for you -- but that doesn't line up with the reality, with a president that called them, said they were JV, said they were contained, said on the weekend after the attacks in Paris they couldn't strike America, they didn't have the capabilities. The president who then said the following week after being criticized that the media is to blame for puffing these people up that they're a bunch of bad guys and killers with social media.
There is a strategy. I'm curious why you would say there's not a strategy in Barack Obama's mind or administration to downplay their ability to strike?
DAVID IGNATIUS: The strategy is announced. And it is slower than most people think it should be. I've been writing this for several years.
SCARBOROUGH: The question is why is the president down playing ISIS?
It's a question we've been asking around this table for several weeks. We're not talking about military strategy at this point, we're trying to get into the president's head, and Willie's question goes to the question that Democrats like Diane Feinstein are even asking.
What is the president's obsession with downplaying ISIS's effectiveness?
DAVID IGNATIUS: I think the 'JV comments' were a disasterous mistake and both president and his director of national intelligence said 'we underestimated ISIS.' That goes back now a year and a half. In the more recent period, what we have seen is the president looking at a bunch of things that aren't working very well, saying we're going to do the things that work and stop the things that don't work, it is his style to a fault to be dry and detached and if we have learned anything about the man in seven years, that is who he is.
My only point is we now have a plan to send special operations forces into Syria to work with our proxy allies, and move village by village toward Raqqa, the capitol of the Islamic State. We are also operating with our special operation forces to take out people who are planning plots against the United States. We've been doing it for many weeks now. I counted more than 50 people have been killed on the ground in Raqqa. It's not as if there's nothing happening.