Michelle Goldberg (Daily Beast): Here’s why Mark Halperin is a disgrace. It’s not because he used a mild obscenity to describe our president on Morning Joe, disrespectful as that was. Rather, it was the circumstances of the slur.
Right now, the Republican Party is threatening to blow up the world economy unless Democrats agree to savage cuts in spending while refusing any of the revenue increases that all serious economists say are necessary to actually address the national debt. Obama, whose greatest fault in office has been a misplaced faith in the GOP’s capacity for reasonableness, went on television and chided the party for this stance. Apparently, this struck Halperin as unreasonable. His response embodies all that’s rotten and shallow about D.C.’s pundit class, which fetishizes bipartisanship even as it only demands it of one political party.
….He’s as good a symbol as anyone of our political class’s smug insularity, its obsession with process and symbolism, and utter disinterest in policy. He creates and then reifies conventional wisdom.
…In slavish interviews with Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, he apologized again and again for the media’s purported liberal bias. “I’m proud of where I work, where we understand that we’ve got to not be liberal,” he said.
….Because Halperin is so determined to bend over backward for the right, he can’t come to grips with the central fact of modern politics – the death of Republican moderation … Right now, the GOP is playing a game of chicken with all of our financial futures … The president tried, in a very mild way, to address his opponents’ dangerous intransigence. What kind of political journalist regards that as wildly inappropriate? Halperin has given us the answer.
President Obama greets actress Whoopi Goldberg prior to speaking following a special fundraising performance of the Broadway musical ‘Sister Act’ on behalf of the Democratic National Committee at the Broadway Theatre in New York, June 23
President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office, May 18, 2009
Jeffrey Goldberg (The Atlantic): …I was taken aback when I read a statement from Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday that he “expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both House of Congress.”
So Netanyahu “expects” to hear this from the President of the United States? And if President Obama doesn’t walk back the speech, what will Netanyahu do? Will he cut off Israeli military aid to the U.S.? Will he cease to fight for the U.S. in the United Nations, and in the many international forums that treat Israel as a pariah?
I don’t like this word, “expect”. Even if there weren’t an imbalance between these two countries – Israel depends on the U.S. for its survival, while America, I imagine, would continue to exist even if Israel ceased to exist – I would find myself feeling resentful about the way Netanyahu speaks about our President.
….he threw something of a hissy fit. It was not appropriate, and more to the point, it was not tactically wise … Prime Minister Netanyahu needs the support of President Obama in order to confront the greatest danger Israel has ever faced: the potential of a nuclear-armed Iran. And yet he seems to go out of his way to alienate the President. Why does he do this? It’s a mystery to me.
Also from Jeffrey Goldberg:….Republicans are misreading Obama’s speech for short-term political gain. But they’re doing the cause they ostensibly support – Israel – a disservice in the process. Because President Obama’s speech was enthusiastically pro-Israel …
Here’s Tim Pawlenty on the speech, misreading a crucial passage: “President Obama’s insistence on a return to the 1967 borders is a mistaken and very dangerous demand….”
President Obama didn’t “insist” that Israel return to its 1967 borders. He said the 1967 borders should form the basis of negotiations, and that Israel and Palestine should swap land, land swaps that would bring settlement blocs and East Jerusalem Jewish neighborhoods into Israel proper.
But Pawlenty is a master of subtlety when compared to Mitt Romney, who said: “President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus……”
Obama has thrown Israel under a bus? Top officials of the Israeli defense ministry have been telling me, and other reporters, for a couple of years now that military cooperation between their country and America has never been better. Some bus. There are a lot of countries out there that would like to be thrown under similar buses.
I laughed today when I read a few articles on Harvard professor Niall Ferguson’s cover story in Newsweek attacking President Obama for his Middle East policy and his handling of the situation in Egypt (a “debacle”!). This, of course, was a bit of a contrast to the verdicts of Professor Marc Lynch (here), Fareed Zakaria (here) and Peter Beinart (here), amongst others.
Hardly anywhere did the people commenting on the piece give any background on Ferguson – which, when you have a look at it, is just a little bit relevant: to put it, em, politely, he’s a loathsome, stomach-churning, narcissistic piece of right wing manure who wouldn’t give credit to President Obama even if he single-handedly saved planet earth from destruction. And Newsweek have hired this creature as a columnist and made his rant their cover story?! Wow!
So, a little background on the guy: click here for Ferguson’s 2008 speech to the right wing Hoover Institution – entitled ‘Why America Needs McCain’ – during which he repeated all the usual right wing abuse of President Obama, eg that he’s a cult leader, bla bla bla. Snore.
This is the guy who thought he was being highly witty when he wrote: “President Barack Obama reminds me of Felix the Cat … Felix was not only black. He was also very, very lucky.” (He wasn’t being racist, he reassured us – after all, we were told, he’d left his wife of 16 years for a black woman).
This is the guy who said the US should “occupy Iraq for 40 years“. Seriously. This is the guy who is on the board of the right-wing British think-tank the Centre for Policy Studies. This is the guy whose political hero was Margaret Thatcher – he “adored” her. (Bucket, please).
This is the guy who “told the world to wise up and start being grateful for everything that the British Empire had done for it”. Honest, I didn’t make that up. This is the guy who was a columnist for the right wing British rag the Daily Mail (but wasn’t brave enough to use his real name when he spouted his right wing bile).
This is the guy who argued that “the First World War had not been worth Britain fighting – Germany should have been allowed a mainland European empire”. Yep, that would have worked well for Europe’s Jews, Niall.
I’m not always on Paul Krugman’s ‘side’, but I was this time: “Ferguson is a poseur who…. relies on snide comments and surface cleverness to convey the impression of wisdom. It’s all style, no comprehension of substance.”
I could go on and on ….. but I won’t. It just would be kind of nice if we were told about the ideological background and prejudices of opinion piece writers when their work is being commented upon, or when they are being introduced as authorities on a subject on TV. Ferguson’s agenda means he will always attack President Obama, regardless. And Newsweek gave that agenda pride of place on their cover? Two words: ‘good’ and ‘grief’.
Salon (2010): “Ferguson is a belligerent nut. The last time American policymakers listened to him, the United States invaded Iraq….”.
Some of the comments posted under Ferguson’s article on The Daily Beast (which, of course, has merged with Newsweek):
“Look at this piece for what it really is…another reich wing talking head trying to push his way through the crowd by throwing a pie at President Obama.”
“Newsweek needs to find some Brits who have views a little more advanced than George III.”
“He seems determined to become another extremist provocateur a la Coulter. Say outrageous things to sell books and get face time on cable. Too bad that most people who even know who he is are familiar with his claptrap and too smart to fall for his self-promotional rhetoric … The bigger disappointment is that Newsweek would put such a loaded article as its cover. Further into irrelevance it goes.”
“Professor Ferguson’s transformation from lettered, Harvard academic to conservative political hack is complete. He is the thinking man’s Glenn Beck … as his debates with Professor Krugman and his meetings with the Republican leadership pre-midterm elections have demonstrated, he has cast his lot in with the Tea Partiers and their politicians…. Don’t be fooled. Ferguson is just Glenn Beck in an academic’s cap and gown.”
“Articles like this make me so happy my Newsweek subscription is ending.”
Read Jeffrey Goldberg’s response in The Atlantichere