Mark Halperin and the ‘Bully in Chief’
President Obama suggested we call him naïve during his press conference last Wednesday because, as he put it, “my expectation is that leaders are going to lead.” After listening to the news conference I would have opted for “vain” or “condescending” to describe him. Mark Halperin, Time Magazine’s chief political correspondent, had his own view of the proceedings. Halperin appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and, when asked what he thought of the president, his answer was succinct and to the point. He said, “I thought he was a dick yesterday.”
Mark Halperin, by all accounts, is a moderate liberal although I have never been able to put him comfortably on either the left or the right. If you recall, Halperin did team with John Heinemann (New York Magazine) as authors of “Game Change,” the best book about the 2008 campaign. Halperin and Heinemann treated Hillary Clinton and John McCain pretty roughly while almost canonizing Barack Obama. Makes it hard to push Halperin into the hating-Obama camp.
From my prospective, I will opt to go with Halperin’s view. Not so with the ‘Bully in Chief’ who directed his press secretary to register a strong protest with MSNBC. Halperin made a serious apology but MSNBC, which during the George Bush Presidency was a fever swamp of political invective, harkened to the White House call and suspended Halperin indefinitely.
Face it Obama fans, the president was a dick during the press conference. He had no new news. He criticized congressional leaders for taking too many work breaks while ignoring the number of hours and days he has spent fundraising. He blistered them for failing to pass the free trade legislation he delayed for more than two years, and he censured them for ignoring the fiscal crisis he seems to be ignoring even today. He singled out Congressional Republicans for not making serious proposals in the debt limit talks while ignoring the Republican budget and the absence of any serious proposals from the White House. He hasn’t introduced a real budget to replace the one he proposed in February, the one that would have increased the deficit, the one the Senate voted to reject by a vote of 97 to 0. Given the unanimous rejection of his alleged budget, I’m surprised he didn’t claim to be the first president to achieve complete bipartisanship.
Obama, rather than present any serious fiscal proposals, opted to spend much of his time at populist demagoguing, something he has been doing a great deal of lately. The target this time was private jet travel, which he claims comes at the expense of the poor and the kids. We are left to guess if it has any deleterious effect on the elderly.
If Obama is not seriously concerned about our current fiscal difficulties, he is serious about tax breaks for private jet travel. He mentioned the tax breaks six times during the news conference. He used his usual cant when setting one group against another, “I think it’s only fair to ask…a corporate jet owner that has done so well to give up that tax break that no other business enjoys.”
But, the corporate jet tax break to which Obama so strongly objects — accelerated depreciation — was created by the stimulus in 2009. Yes, it was part of the Obama stimulus. The Obama-Pelosi-Reid stimulus that every Republican House member voted against and only three Republican Senators voted for.
A 2009 report from the Associated Press based on administration claims described the economic benefits of the private jet tax break: “The aviation industry, which is cutting jobs as it suffers from declining shipments and canceled orders, hopes the tax break in the economic-stimulus bill just signed by President Barack Obama will persuade more companies to buy planes and snap the slump in general aviation that began last year.”
Seems this is one of those I-was-for-it-before-I-was-against-it moments that bedevils many of our leaders.
The question one must ask is: Does Mr. Obama’s amateur populist demagoguing have anything to do with solving the deficit crisis? The answer is, not a thing. Charles Krauthammer did the math on this: “If you collect the corporate jet tax every year for the next 5,000 years, you will cover one year of the debt that Obama has run up. One year. To put it another way, if you started collecting that tax at the time of John the Baptist and you collected it every year — first in shekels and now in dollars — you wouldn’t be halfway to covering one year of the amount of debt that Obama has run up.”
There were other moments that set my teeth on edge. Obama came again with the now overly familiar claim that he has done something no other man born or woman has ever done. He told us, “What I have done — and this is unprecedented, by the way; no administration has ever done this before — is I’ve said to each agency, ‘Don’t just look at current regulations or don’t just look at future regulations, regulations that we’re proposing. Let’s go backwards and look at regulations that are already on the books and if they don’t make sense, let’s get rid of them.”
The Government Accounting Office records that every president since Jimmy Carter has done the exact same thing. Bill Clinton went so far as to appoint Al Gore the deregulator-in-chief. I just wish Mr. Obama would quit posturing as a deregulating pioneer and actually deregulate something.
The apology by Halperin and MSNBC’s cave in to the ‘Bully in Chief’ is disturbing on another level. We are not the president’s employees. Mark Halperin, and the rest of us, are the president’s employers and things are not going well. He ought to listen to our complaints rather than telling us to shut-up.
Halperin called it as he saw it; he shouldn’t have apologized.