On NBC, Time's Halperin Smacks GOP for Not Slamming Limbaugh, Woodward Talks of Doo-Doo
On Sunday’s Meet the Press roundtable, Mark Halperin of Time denounced Republicans for not repudiating Rush Limbaugh’s "outrageous" remarks on how President Obama would use Haiti to his political advantage. Bob Woodward of the Washington Post attacked "slasher" and "chainsaw" partisanship, and insisted the idea that Obama’s first year doesn’t bode well for his political future is...."crap." Halperin also insisted that Team Obama’s Haiti response was extraordinary, both in reality and in public relations:
HALPERIN: I think they're dealing with it extraordinarily well from a mechanical point of view, from a public relations point of view. But it's going to involve two things going forward, I think. One is continued execution for what Bob suggested, which is getting more stuff there. And I think it's also an opportunity for the president to try to keep the country together.
The two former presidents, Clinton and Bush, come together, but we see Rush Limbaugh say something outrageous and not a lot of repudiation from Republicans in Congress or others to say, "This is unacceptable. It's a time when the American people are showing our best to help, not a time for that kind of--to try to take partisan...(unintelligible)."
GREGORY: But you heard President Bush dismiss that out of hand as doesn't know what critics would be talking about and, and really focused on going out of his way to compliment the president on, on the response so far.
HALPERIN: The former presidents, no question...
HALPERIN: ...showing extraordinary bipartisan leadership. I'm talking about other Republicans in this country who shouldn't be silent at, at such an outrageous remark at a time when we should be coming together.
George W. Bush’s answer didn’t sound like a "dismissal" of Obama critics, but merely an attempt to stay on the polite side of the political fence:
GREGORY: In some circles, the president's been criticized for politicizing this disaster. Do you think that's fair?
BUSH: I, I, I don't know what, what they're talking about. I, I, I've been briefed by the president about the response. And as I said in my opening comment, I, I appreciate the president's quick response to this disaster.
The way Gregory asked that question suggests it's not obvious he's asking for a criticism of Limbaugh. Bush simply said he hasn't seen Obama politicizing the disaster yet (which is, after all, the polite thing to say when you've been asked to help out with Haiti.)
The Limbaugh remarks that leftists are circulating merely suggest Obama will (in the coming days) use Haiti to shore up his standing among blacks. It should be said that today's Washington Post poll says black support for Obama remains at 96 percent, unchanged from a year ago.
Bob Woodward of The Washington Post also harshly criticized anyone who would ruin Obama’s Haiti work with "slasher" and "chain saw" analogies:
You have the kind of slasher mentality, the partisan mentality that people who are their backers on both the left and the right tend to engage in this kind of, "Let's kill the other guy, let's get out the chainsaw and rip him up." And then you see the leaders there saying, "Now wait a minute, there is a consensus." And I, I think when there's a consensus, a political consensus in this country, people act on it. But this is a monumental disaster.
Then Woodward explicitly compared Obama’s first year to Ronald Reagan’s first year, as if Obama is going to spur a massive American recovery and accomplish something geopolitically massive like ending the Cold War.
WOODWARD: I did some research. Remember Ronald Reagan? If you look at Reagan now, liberals, Democrats, academics say he had a very successful presidency. Pretty universally agreed. Whether that's right or not, we'll, we'll see what the next bounce of history is.
But Lou Cannon, who is the White House correspondent for The Washington Post, wrote the--he's the premiere biographer of Reagan, and after Reagan left two terms, he wrote his monumental work on this. But after a year in the Reagan presidency, Lou also wrote a book which I'm sure he doesn't want remembered, and it was just called "Reagan." And I got it out, and this is what Lou Cannon said right at this time in the Reagan presidency in 1982:
"Reagan was, for all his optimism, running out of time. His reach had exceeded his grasp. Age and events had dimmed a sense of leadership." Now get this, "By 1982 it was an axiom in the White House that Reagan, like so many of his modern predecessors, would be a one-term president. I believe that Reagan will not run again."
KAREN HUGHES: But they did lose seats in 1982 in Congress.
WOODWARD: Now, now, now what's important about this, we don't know with Obama, but it's also possible for -- you know, Lou Cannon was the best. Always kept his, kept his head about Reagan's positive traits, negative traits. He had it wrong. So, you know, all of these pronouncements about disappointment and so forth I think are crap.
GREGORY: There have, there have--not to put too fine a point on it.