The Halperin Backlash Backlash

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 30 2011 11:31 AM

The Halperin Backlash Backlash

So: Mark Halperin stumbles badly on Morning Joe, and says the president "was a dick yesterday" as he chastized Republicans in his press conference. I can say Halperin stumbled because he apologized profusely afterward; it's really not a good idea to curse on cable TV, unless you're being interviewed by Chelsea Handler.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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But I'm really unsurprised to see Halperin's mistake become a jokey rallying cry, immediately, among a few conservatives.

Ben Shapiro, the columnist and author of Primetime Propaganda:

Halperin was wrong to say Obama is a dick. He's a douche... I respect the presidency. I do not respect the president, and Halperin was said Obama acted like a dick, not that the presidency is dick-y.

PJTV host Stephen Kruiser:

Whew! Spent all morning trying to keep some dick's hands off my corporate jet.

Jonah Goldberg:

So who will be the first liberal to admit that Halperin committed a Washington Gaffe by accidentally telling the truth? (too coarsely).

Let's thread this needle. Had Halperin said that Republicans thought Obama had acted like an [expletive], he still would have made a big etiquette error, but yes, he would have been conveying what some Republicans thought. News flash: People who disagree with another party's stance, and the way their partisans say it, occasionally use or think mean things about them. What surprised me about Halperin was that this was his independent political analysis -- the president was being a [rude name for male sex organ] by deriding some of the GOP's negotiating stances. Given that Obama is not the first politician to do this, it just came off as weak analysis. Is John Boehner a [thing that Harvey Keitel exposed in The Piano] when he derides the Democrats? Is Nancy Pelosi being a [first name of failed 1996 New Hampshire Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Swett] when she says Republicans are too kind to oil companies?

Disclosure: I'm an MSNBC contributor, and I occasionally think and write mean things about political figures, although far less than I used to, because it's sort of a stupid thing to do.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.