Halperin's Disgrace

With seemingly little rationale, other than perhaps his worry at the declining fortunes of President Obama and Democrats due to their many missteps, Time magazine’s Mark Halperin unleashed a heart-wrenching plea for the GOP to not attack Obama on the issue of the Ground Zero mosque.

One wonders what he was thinking, given that he seemed to diminish the 9/11 families and couldn’t restrain himself from taking a shot at RNC Chairman Michael Steele in the process. If that’s the way to a Republican’s heart Halperin envisions, perhaps more than his motivations are potentially compromised in this instance.

“Yes, Republicans, you can take advantage of this heated circumstance, backed by the families of the 9/11 victims, in their most emotional return to the public stage since 2001, wrote Halperin. “Even your usually tone-deaf national chairman, Michael Steele, could not mess this one up.”

I can’t help but wonder if Halperin’s motivations aren’t compromised because, as other journalists have noted, he has already penned books involving Obama. I wonder, is there not one more in the works? I would think so, given his output and reputation for insider access.

But an unhealthy pattern is developing in this White House—a trend that may very well have been a part of other presidencies as well—but what is happening today needs comment. Some journalists seem to be putting their self-interest above their responsibilities to the public as well as their employers.”

As Howard Kurtz and Glenn Greenwald have both commented, many White House correspondents and other top-tier journalists want to write Obama books. Anything with “Obama” on it is running at a huge premium in the book publication market.

But the kind of books that sell need “inside access” and this is something that the communications team at the White House doles out minimally, and increasingly only when favors are part of the arrangement.

Now, let’s look at what little supposed genuine rationale Halperin provided for his lament. I say, genuine, because there’s no way a veteran reporter like Halperin wouldn’t know the old saying, all’s fair in love, war and politics. So, why should the GOP stand down on the mosque issue?
Halperin wrote: “The painful divisions propelled by all the overheated rhetoric is not worth whatever political gain your party might achieve. And a national political fight conducted on the terms we have seen in the past few days will lead to a chain reaction at home and abroad that will have one winner—the very extreme and violent jihadists we all can claim as our true enemy.”

Painful divisions? Overheated rhetoric? Helping our enemies win? Was it not all that and more when Democrats, one as prominent as former Vice President Al Gore, said this of then-President George W. Bush? Here’s the audio if you’d like to confirm it, Mr. Halperin, as the objective journalist you claim to be.

“He betrayed this country,” Mr. Gore shouted into the microphone at a rally of Tennessee Democrats in a stuffy hotel ballroom in February 2004. “He played on our fears. He took America on an ill-conceived foreign adventure dangerous to our troops, an adventure preordained and planned before 9/11 ever took place.”

Yet, if I Google Mark Halperin and the phrase “he betrayed this country,” I get only seven hits and no bold plea for comity for the sake of the country so as to not inspire our enemies to hold-out and fight all the harder. Where was Halperin’s profound concern for people to put politics aside and do the right thing, then? Perhaps it’s out there, but I can’t find it via the web.

And what about in April 2007, when no less a Democrat than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pronounced a war that is now mostly won, as presumably lost back then? And it is won only because Obama continued Bush’s policies, as Halperin so helpfully pointed out in his weak-kneed plea.

CBS/Associated Press reported: “The Senate debate on Iraq grew sharper Thursday when Majority Leader Harry Reid said the war had been lost and that President Bush’s troop buildup is not stemming the rampant violence. That statement prompted Republicans to declare that Democrats do not support the troops in Iraq.”

Again, a Google search shows no prominent call from Halperin for Reid and the Democrats to somehow stand down politically. The simple fact is Democrats, including his apparently beloved Obama, used overheated, divisive rhetoric that emboldened America’s same enemies for years during the Bush presidency. So far as I can tell, the suddenly altruistic Halperin displayed no profound sense of putting politics aside for the good of the country while we had hundreds of thousands of men at arms fighting in Iraq that President Bush was clearly determined to see through.

Given his potential conflict of interest over access and a history of not putting civility, or his country, first in political debate, it’s impossible to see Halperin as having any credibility at all on the Ground Zero mosque issue. The imploring nature of his whine causes one to wonder if Halperin won’t be reduced to hysterical crying into his keyboard in the fall, assuming Obama and the Democrats take the whipping Halperin all but concedes they will. But then, crying is often the fate of a cheerleader after his or her team takes a terrible beating on the field.