Harsh criticism of the president, whether it comes from Republicans or Democrats, only serves to comfort enemies of the United States, talk show host Joe Scarborough said Wednesday.
"I'm old-fashioned enough to believe that harshly criticizing the commander in chief during dangerous international crises, whether it's with the likes of [former Iraq President] Saddam Hussein or [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, that provides comfort to nation states who choose to be our enemies," Scarborough, a former Republican Florida Congressman, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
"I believed that when George W. Bush was president. I believe that today when Barack Obama's president," he added.
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As tensions boiled over into an international crisis with the occupation of Russian troops in Crimea, lawmakers have had harsh words for President Barack Obama and his handling of the situation.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain called Obama's foreign policy "feckless" on Monday, adding that "nobody believes in America's strength anymore."
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham criticized the president's policy in the face of Russia's apparent takeover of Crimea with the tweet Tuesday, "It started with Benghazi. When you kill Americans and nobody pays a price, you invite this type of aggression. #Ukraine."
Scarborough referenced a statement by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who admonished lawmakers on the importance of presenting a unified front.
"Trying to speak with one voice, one American voice, has become a quaint thing of the past. I regret that enormously," Gates told The Washington Post
Scarborough argued that there was "nothing more frightening to our enemies, to America's enemies, than a strong unified American voice." He said it was incumbent upon the president's "political rivals" to "encourage him privately."
Lawmakers should speak carefully in public, Scarborough cautioned, because their comments echo around the world.
"For now, Washington leaders should measure their words a bit more carefully, because, not only is the whole world watching, Vladimir Putin, especially, is watching," he said.
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