I know that this statement is not news to folks here but please allow me to vent about Mark Halperin for a few minutes.
A couple of weeks ago Alex Pareene of Salon did me a great favor by naming Halperin as the #2 Biggest Hack among Washington "reporters" and columnists. He described him as the "drudge-loving political analyst who gets everything wrong." God what an appropriate title for this man.
Pareene goes on to offer these words about Halperin that really make me happy:
Repetition of White House spin is a fairly noxious trait in a journalist, but Halperin's worst quality is actually that he is constantly wrong. He is a professional political analyst, yet he often seems to be completely, 100 percent wrong about even the horse-race aspects of politics that he specializes in. He kept promising, in 2006, that Bush's approval ratings would once again surge past 50 percent. Remember when John McCain "suspended his campaign" to fix the economy? Mark Halperin said McCain won the week.
Halperin is truly insufferable. Just a couple weeks ago, he wrote a column about President Obama that was full of hackery. Andrew Sullivan was so dismayed that he wrote:
Lo! Mark Halperin has a new column. See how much conventional wisdom, hoary cliches, dead language and zero facts someone can shoe-horn into a few hundred words.
Published on December 6th, here are some golden oldies from the article that Sullivan found so pathetic:
A survey of the political landscape shows that many groups who were part of the 2008-09 Obama coalition have turned on him. Liberals believe he is an overcompromising wimp. (See blistering recent columns by progressive icons Paul Krugman and Frank Rich of the New York Times for a taste of what the left thinks of "their" President now.) The business community considers Obama ignorant about markets at best, a socialist at worst (O.K., some business people entertain an even harsher assessment). The media, after aiding and abetting his ride to the White House, now see the President as incompetent and overwhelmed. The independents and Republicans who backed him for office currently feel he is too liberal and too weak to do the job. These trends are all worse in Washington and among opinion leaders than they are in the country at large, but the views of elites are clearly shaping how the President is perceived by the nation in general.
The only thing missing from this diatribe was that Halperin had heard "on deep background" from Bo, the dog, that he too felt that the President was a LOSER.
As he closed his horrible article, he left us with these truly comforting thoughts. The only way for Obama to save his presidency was for our country to be afflicted with a truly terrible catastrophe (perhaps another terrorist attack):
No one wants the country to suffer another catastrophe. But when a struggling Bill Clinton was faced with the Oklahoma City bombing and a floundering George W. Bush was confronted by 9/11, they found their voices and a route to political revival. Perhaps Obama's crucible can be positive — the capture of Osama bin Laden, the fall of the Iranian regime, a dramatic technological innovation that revitalizes American manufacturing — something to reintroduce him to the American people and show the strengths he demonstrated as a presidential candidate.
While he negotiates his way through the lame-duck session of Congress, prepares for his State of the Union address and budget, and braces for the new normals of 2011, the President had better figure out how to react when the moment comes. Without that moment — whatever it is — and strong leadership in its wake, Obama may find his luck has run out.
Over at the Columbia Journalism Review, Joel Mears takes on Halperin's column.
Anyone who’s read Game Change knows that Time’s Mark Halperin isn’t exactly averse to big assertions backed by little evidence (at least, little cited evidence). He is also a fan of the grand, fiery flourish. But even with that in mind, Halperin’s One Nation column yesterday—"What Obama Needs to Come Back: Luck"—feels heavy-handed and perfectly strange.
The whole article by Mears is worth reading to get a full sense of Halperin terribleness.
However the worst example of Halperin's sheer soul-less hackery came on the occasion of the passing of the terrific Elizabeth Edwards. If you will recall, Halperin savaged Elizabeth Edwards in his tabloid book "Game Change." He followed the release of the book with tons of media appearances trashing her. On the occasion of her passing, he was on Hardball where he had to speak about her death.
Once again the invaluable Alex Pareene provides the evidence of Halperin's awfulness:
When she was still with us, here's what the relentlessly smarmy Halperin wrote about Elizabeth Edwards:
What the world saw in Elizabeth: A valiant, determined, heroic every-woman. What the Edwards insiders saw: An abusive, intrusive, paranoid, condescending crazy-woman.
While usually careful to attribute the characterization to "insiders," Halperin's "Game Change" painted Edwards as, in Jason Linkins' words, "a shrill monster," guilty primarily of the crime of being intelligent and ambitious.
"The culture kicked Elizabeth Edwards when she was already down," Jonathan Alter just wrote at the Daily Beast. And Mark Halperin was an integral part of that culture. Having him on to speak about her was disgusting.
People like Halperin need to lose their jobs or work exclusively at Fox News (the home of extreme hackery i.e. Dick Morris). Halperin (of this is excellent news for John McCain fame) needs to be put out of his misery. In a just world, he would never be hired by MSNBC as a "political analyst." But alas...