President Obama's much-criticized press conference on the Islamic State terrorist group did not pass muster with Morning Joe's commentators either Tuesday, with the panel unanimous in its condemnation of Obama's tone and response.
Obama appeared frustrated and defensive throughout much of his presser in Turkey, at several points calling out reporters for asking too many questions about the same subject and maintaining that his strategy against IS would not change. He also referred to the Paris terrorist attacks as a "sickening setback."
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"It was shocking," MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said. "And the reaction from the people I spoke with across the ideological divide and people that worked for other governments that are on the front line in this battle find it shocking that what the French declare as an act of war, the president calls a setback … He was clearly irritated through the entire press conference, and I think most frightening is the fact that he seems disconnected from reality. The reality on the ground in Paris. The reality on the ground in Syria."
Obama also received sharp criticism for saying last week that IS was "contained," which appeared to be rebuffed by the latest outrage perpetrated by the organization. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) also rebuked Obama's words Monday, telling MSNBC that IS was not contained at all. New York City police commissioner also said Monday that he disagreed with the White House's contention that IS was not currently a credible threat to the homeland.
Obama's tone appeared to only get fiery Monday when he responded to GOP critics of his policies and opponents to accepting Syrian refugees into the country.
"It's been a hallmark of President Obama's presidency and even his campaign to be cool, to show no emotion, but there are moments when people want to see a little emotion," co-host Willie Geist said. "There are moments where people want to hear him say I recognize this is a problem, here's what I'm going to do, and not to get mired in political fights … He seemed more emotional and annoyed and aggressive about that than he did about the problem in front of him."
"I head that, that the only time he ever showed passion was when he was attacking Republicans, not when he was talking about ISIS. It's bizarre," Scarborough said.
Liberal commentator Mike Barnicle added that his sources say that Obama has been repeatedly informed by advisers that his anti-IS campaign is failing.
"I've been told by several people that the President of the United States has been told repeatedly over the past couple of months that the strategy that's being employed right now is not nearly as effective as he, the president, wants it to be or thinks it is," Barnicle said. "This could have played a part in his reaction yesterday, because now it is very clear that the strategy is not effective."
The best author Mark Halperin could offer was that Obama's entire performance was "baffling."
"He's very frustrated by the options that he has. He's very frustrated by the criticism that he gets," Halperin said. "There comes a time when the intellect and the gray as opposed to the black-and-white has to be put aside to say the world needs American leadership. The performance yesterday … baffling, I think, is about the nicest thing you could say about it from the point of view of a lot of people who expected a much different approach."