Reagan Historian Knocks Joe Scarborough for Hypocrisy

Biographer Craig Shirley ridicules the MSNBC co-host's contention that our 40th president had a 'sell-by date' of 1987

Presidential historian Craig Shirley ripped “Morning Joe” host and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough Wednesday for hypocrisy in dismissing Ronald Reagan as having a “sell-by date” six years into his presidency.

Scarborough’s point was that then-President Reagan during that period could not get congressional funding for the anti-communist Contras who were fighting the Nicaraguan regime — and largely was irrelevant. President Donald Trump, Scarborough predicted, will have a much earlier sell-by date.

Appearing on “The Laura Ingraham Show,” Shirley disputed Scarborough’s comments by using the former congressman’s own words: “Twenty-five years after he flew west on Air Force One for the last time, it is safe to say that millions of Americans would still love to go back to the future and have President Reagan in the Oval Office once again.”

That came from a piece Scarborough himself wrote in 2014 for Time magazine.

Shirley pointed to another passage in the piece: “Were his eight years in Washington defined by Hollywood glitz and glib politics? Certainly not.”

Shirley — who has written four biographies of Reagan — said the 40th president’s legacy is secure.

“If it is a sell-by date, then why are we still talking about him?”

“If it is a sell-by date, then why are we still talking about him?” he asked. “You know, Joe — look, he’s a friend of mine, but he’s in over his head.”

Shirley said Reagan negotiated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, delivered a major speech on AIDS, addressed a crowd at Moscow State University, and bid farewell to the presidency — all during the period in which the president supposedly no longer was relevant.

“I don’t know what he means [by] a sell-by date, because Reagan in his last two years did some of his most important work,” he said.

Related: Paranoia, Thy Name Is ‘Morning Joe’

Shirley also defended White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s much-maligned criticism of young illegal immigrants who were “too lazy to get off their asses” and register for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created during former President Barack Obama’s administration.

“Just because he states the obvious doesn’t mean it’s insensitive,” Shirley said.

Shirley said liberals’ “world would collapse” if they ever conceded victory to Trump and agreed to legislation that would grant legal status to the DACA recipients.

“They’ve built up a façade, and they worship at the altar of that façade, and their armor would fall off if they ever conceded that Trump did anything right,” he said.

PoliZette senior writer Brendan Kirby can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

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PoliZette senior writer Brendan Kirby can be reached at [email protected].