With air time to fill as they awaited a press conference from President Barack Obama about a secret nuclear facility in Iran, a panel of commentators on this morning’s edition of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” found themselves turning from the topic at hand to discussing how it could be an opportunity for Obama to talk tough on a “bi-partisan issue” (apparently we can agree on Iran, no matter our political leanings), and thereby win the respect of American voters, which in turn, could help pass his health care reform bill.

Wait. What? Iran’s illegal nuclear facility concealed from weapons inspectors is a vehicle for getting health care reform approved in the United States?

The focus on how the international incident could be parlayed into an image-booster for Obama was misguided at best. And later, the commentators seemed almost disappointed that Obama was stuck with the diplomatic talking points while the most fiery rhetoric was reserved for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who stood in solidarity with Obama along with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Co-host Mika Brzezinski had this to say immediately after the speech:

“We just heard from President Obama, a strong message to Iran from the president and then from French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and a fairly strong message from the president. But the strongest one, definitely, even looking at the faces of the panel here on “”Morning Joe,”” was from Gordon Brown.”

Well, what a waste. They already have universal health care in Great Britain. Should’ve let Obama do the tough talking. We really could have used that public option this year.

Alexandra Fenwick is an assistant editor at CJR.