Mark Halperin, Village Idiot
Most years we’re able to happily ignore Time’s esteemed Washington correspondent, but his Monday column was so thoroughly perplexing, we decided to try out Google’s new beta Halperin-English translator.
Barack Obama is being politically crushed in a vise. From above, by elite opinion about his competence. From below, by mass anger and anxiety over unemployment.
Translation: Fuck Politico. I’m winning this morning.
With the exception of core Obama Administration loyalists, most politically engaged elites have reached the same conclusions: the White House is in over its head, isolated, insular, arrogant and clueless about how to get along with or persuade members of Congress, the media, the business community or working-class voters.
Translation: I’m not going to bother citing sources.
This view is held by Fox News pundits, executives and anchors at the major old-media outlets, reporters who cover the White House, Democratic and Republican congressional leaders and governors, many Democratic business people and lawyers who raised big money for Obama in 2008, and even some members of the Administration just beyond the inner circle.
Translation: I’m still not going to bother citing sources. But let’s pretend like I did. Besides, you can confirm the Fox News pundits yourself, so you know the rest is valid.
Many members of the general public appear deeply skeptical of Obama’s capacity to turn things around, especially, but not exclusively, those inclined to dislike him — Tea Partyers and John McCain voters, but also tens of millions of middle-class Americans, including quite a few who turned out for Obama in 2008.
Translation: This just in: Those inclined to dislike Obama, dislike Obama — including the tens of millions of middle-class Americans who voted against him in 2008. Plus quite a few who voted for him. You know you are. I hope you do, because I sure as hell don’t.
The misery afflicting the country has no political affiliation. Listen to the voices from this striking TV ad for Rob Portman, the Republican former Congressman and Bush budget director who is running for Senate from Ohio.
Translation: Yes, I just did that. In support of my point about bipartisan disappointment with Obama, I just quoted a campaign ad by Dubya’s budget director. In plain sight. Can you do that? No. No, you can’t. Fucking amateur.
Most of Obama’s private (and sometimes public) rebuttals to the voices slamming him on all sides are justified or spot on. He did inherit a lot of problems from the Bush Administration. He did act quickly in the initial weeks of his Administration to stave off a worldwide depression. His efforts at job creation have been obstructed by Republicans (even the proposals based on policies supported by the GOP in the past). His opponents haven’t put forth specifics of their own, nor offered genuine compromise, while the media have allowed the right’s activists and gabbers to run wild with criticism without furnishing legitimate alternative solutions.
Translation: Please ignore this paragraph, as it undermines my entire premise. It’s only here in case the winds shift a year from now, so I can still credit myself with prescience.
But Obama has exacerbated his political problems not just by failing to enact policies that would have actually turned the economy around, but also by authorizing a series of tactical moves intended to demonize Republicans and distract from the problems at hand.
Translation: Didn’t I just say that Republicans are the problems at hand? Yes I did. And if you had ignored it like you were supposed to, your brain wouldn’t be splattered all over your keyboard. Honestly, people: If your attention span lasts more than a paragraph, I’m in deep shit.
In the past few days, we have witnessed the spectacle of the President himself and his top advisers wading into allegations that Republicans are attempting to buy the election using foreign money laundered through the Chamber of Commerce, combining with Karl Rove and his wealthy backers to fund a flood of negative television commercials. Not only is this issue convoluted and far-fetched, but it also distracts from the issues voters care about…
Translation: Just drop it. Documented examples of foreign influence on American elections bore the shit out of voters. Unless the examples are from Kenya.
The politically good news for Obama is that no matter what the outcome of the midterm elections, everything changes in January. Republicans will have a greater obligation, politically and morally, to help govern, rather than thwart and badger.
Translation: Yes, I said that with a straight face. Damn, I’m good.