Top of the Pyramid

Friends and readers of this blog often ask me, “Why, first thing every morning, do you watch Joe Scarborough?”  The answer is quite simple.  Joe reminds me of the relationship I used to have with Republican governors and their staffs during my time at the National Governors Association (NGA), some with whom I remained friends long after I left the confines of the D.C. political scene.  Those relationships evolved while working on policy issues on which we often held what sometimes appeared to be diametrically opposed positions.  The interaction, however, made me a better analyst and advocate for two reasons.  First, there was a legitimate conservative viewpoint on most topics, and since any official NGA position required the support of two-thirds of the chief executives of the nation’s states and territories, that conservative bent needed accommodation.  Second, and perhaps more importantly, any disagreement in direction forced me to develop a compelling argument that a more liberal approach did not necessarily violate core conservative principles.  And in the end, though this may sound trite, I would realize we had more in common than we had differences.

This morning I found myself metaphorically back in my NGA office in the Hall of the States when Scarborough explained the difference between his world view and that of the MAGA dominated Republican party.  He compared his personal value system to a pyramid in which his priorities began at the top.  He ticked them off.  God.  Country.  The Constitution. Politics and Party.  He then suggested the current iteration of the GOP was a totally inverted pyramid with Donald Trump at the top and God at the bottom. 

It reminded me of the 1964 song “Barry’s Boys” by the original Chad Mitchell Trio which began, “We’re the bright young men who wanna go back to 1910, we’re Barry’s boys,” referring to GOP presidential nominee Barry Goldwater.  It was the closing which captured the tenor of that era and ours today.  Chad Mitchell would mimic a Goldwater supporter, “I’m an American first and a politician second.”  Mike Kobluk’s bass voice would respond, “Spoken like a true American politician.”  But I digress.

Scarborough’s primary allegiance to a divine presence is no surprise.  He is an unapologetic evangelical Southern Baptist.  Which raised the question, “What would a devout agnostic, like me, put at the top of my pyramid?”  The second segment of “Morning Joe” provided the answer.  The topic was the terrorist attack at a Moscow concert hall in which 137 (to date) audience members were killed and more than 120 others wounded.  Marc Polymeropolous, former senior intelligence analyst at the CIA, described how the CIA had alerted Russia to that very possibility two weeks before the attack and had issued a warning to U.S. personnel stationed there.  Scarborough jumped in.  He reminded viewers the U.S. had done the same thing before an ISIS terrorist attack in Iran on January 4, 2024.

He then went into a typical Joe Scarborough rant.  These are people who shout, “Death to America” or commit war crimes against civilians in Ukraine.  Yet we still shared intelligence about an imminent terrorist attack.  Why?  Because it was the right thing to do.  It was what Americans do.  It was then I realized where Joe’s and my world view came together.  His moral compass gravitates toward God, Jesus Christ and the words of the Gospel.  I attribute mine simply to the fact that I am a member of the human race.  How we got there makes no difference.  I could now draw my pyramid.  Therefore, at the top of my pyramid is “humanity” followed by country, the Constitution and last, like Joe, party.

Listening to Joe Scarborough did not change my world view.  It did, however, help me clarify it.  And made me realize I share the road on which I travel with many kindred spirits.  The only difference being our choice of vehicles and the north star which guides our journey.

For what it’s worth.

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