Mark Halperin’s Mistakes In Analyzing The Obama Administration

The next in today’s series of silly political articles comes from the master of the genre, Mark Halperin. He seems to think that there is something clever in comparing Obama to Bush. That’s hardly original–there’s been tons of such nonsense from the far left going back to even before the election.

At least the attacks from the far left have a grain of logic to them. While it is absurd to compare Obama’s admittedly snail-paced move towards restoring rule of law to the Unitary Executive philosophy of the Bush administration, there are some superficial similarities between Bush and Obama here. Sure these similarities are about as significant as the fact that both Bush and Obama are featherless bipeds, but at least this argument deals  with Isomething of consequence.

In contrast, Halperin focuses on totally trivial similarities. Here are his four main points:

  • No Chief Economic Spokesperson
  • Failure to Integrate Policy, Politics and Communication
  • Tying the Administration’s Fate Too Closely to His Party’s Congressional Leadership

Halperin pretty much ignores everything which really matters when he believes these superficial similarities to George Bush are of any significance, even if his arguments were correct. Jonathan Bernstein debunked each of his points arguing that “Halperin is far more focused on the ephemeral portions of the presidency, the battle over each news cycle, than he is on things that are far more important to the success or failure of a president.”

Andrew Sullivan, in a post entitled Washington Bullshit Watch, had far more to say:

No one does it better than Mark Halperin. Every single thing he cites in his latest brain-dead critique is, I believe, tangibly false, and the moronic attempt to grab some pageviews by a counter-intuitive and utterly dumb analogy – Obama is like Bush, guys! Aren’t I clever? – is Beltway hackery at its worst.

This administration has resolutely pursued policy before politics on the economy, the wars, and health insurance reform; has some real cabinet stars – Duncan, Gates and Geithner come immediately to mind – who have actually done the right thing rather than the politically expedient thing; and the president remains a completely different brand in the public mind than the Congress.

Halperinism really is part of what’s deeply wrong about Washington. Obama really is the only thing that’s still right.

Sarah Palin’s Adventures in Canadian Health Care

Today seems to be the day for silly political stories, beginning with the previous post. Next there’s one on Sarah Palin. There’s been a fair bit of excitement in the blogosphere about Sarah Palin talking about crossing the Canadian border for health care as a child:

“My first five years of life we spent in Skagway, Alaska, right there by Whitehorse. Believe it or not – this was in the ‘60s – we used to hustle on over the border for health care that we would receive in Whitehorse. I remember my brother, he burned his ankle in some little kid accident thing and my parents had to put him on a train and rush him over to Whitehorse and I think, isn’t that kind of ironic now. Zooming over the border, getting health care from Canada.”

Yes, it is tempting to joke about Sarah Palin’s family going to Canada for health care considering how she has suggested that the Canadians dismantle their universal health care system. While Palin’s attacks on the Canadian system are based upon the usual false conservative claims, the system was barely coming into existence back when Palin’s family went to Canada. Besides, how much relevance is there in where a child is taken by their family? Even if Sarah Palin’s parents had taken her to the Soviet Union for pure Communist health care, this would be interesting but not particularly meaningful. Attacking Palin for where she had health care as a child is as meaningful as the attacks from the Clinton campaign on Barack Obama for papers he wrote as a child expressing a desire to one day become president.

Friends Abroad

Here’s yet another example of how people find ways to attack Obama regardless of what he does. The old right wing meme has been to portray Democrats as paying too much attention to foreign countries, often insinuating that they are compromising American sovereignty. Today Jackson Diel attacked Obama from the opposite direction for not having good friends among foreign leaders.

Thinking of foreign leaders as good buddies works wonders. Remember how well it worked out when George Bush looked into Putin’s soul? There undoubtedly are cases when personal relationships might be of value but Obama is doing a far better job of achieving international cooperation than George Bush ever could.