Gen. Michael Hayden dumbfounded an MSNBC panel on Friday by saying that Dr. Ben Carson’s instincts on foreign policy are "alright."
"Are you concerned that there is a frontrunner whose foreign policy sensibilities seem to lack, to say the least?" MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski asked.
"I must admit I had one lengthy phone call with Dr. Carson about two months ago. His instincts are alright, but this is a database with which he is very unfamiliar," Hayden said.
A shaken Brzezinski then asked Hayden if someone like Carson had the "ability" to "wrap his head around" complex matters of foreign policy.
Hayden reiterated Carson’s unfamiliarity with the subject area, but praised the doctor for his willingness to listen to experts in a subject area where he is inexperienced. He said their phone conversation was characterized by "good questions" and "honest dialogue."
"I must admit what you see publicly is what you get, a man trying to understand things which his life experience hasn't given him understanding about in the past," Hayden said.
"Wow," Brzezinski said.
"Ok. Mmmhmm. Ok," Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson said as his world collapsed around him.
"I am surprised by that answer," Brzezinski said. "But I, I really—that’s not someone we really take as a respected source. Are you sure?"
"I can only report what I heard," Hayden said. "He asked the right questions, he gave me a chance to explain it, and he had good follow-on questions."
Later in the show, McCarthy parsed Hayden’s statement with Thomistic fineness to salvage his position that Carson is an incompetent. McCarthy said that Hayden’s position was more "nuanced" on second listen and did not admit any "wisdom" on Carson’s part.
For her part, Brzezinski did some soul-searching.
"I worry about my tone over the last few days, having said that," Brzezinski said. "This isn’t a serious candidate, is it? Is it my ideology, is it my worldview, is it my party?"
"You were a little incredulous, but I think that’s a fair point," Daily Caller columnist Matt Lewis said.