Mark Halperin, enabler of bigotry

He could use a short trip to Shusterville. The time to put an end to this crap is right now.

Of course, Mark Halperin would say that he’s merely describing tactics the McCain campaign might use against Barack Obama, not advocating them.

But when a reporter for a mainstream publication suggests that a candidate for President appeal to racism (or, as Halperin coyly puts it, “Allow some supporters to risk being accused of using the race card when criticizing Obama,”) and religious bigotry (“Emphasize Barack Hussein Obama’s unusual name and exotic background through a Manchurian Candidate prism”) it’s time for someone to call the meeting to order.

Referring to how McCain should treat Michelle Obama’s gaffes, Halperin calls for “unrestricted censure.”

Sauce. Goose. Gander. A little unrestricted censure is probably just what Halperin’s little soul could use right now.

Seems to me like Halperin needs a trip to Shusterville. Two weeks should be just about long enough to remind him, and others, not to go there again.

Update Some of my journalistic friends rise to Halperin’s defense, arguing that he’s predicting, not advocating. But it seems to me that reporters don’t have to shed their sense of right and wrong when they sit down to write.

If Halperin had indeed been providing objective analysis, rather than giving McCain’s attack lines a tryout, he would have added something like:

McCain presents himself as a person of honor and a patriot. Using some of these attacks would be dishonorable and unpatriotic. So we will be able to tell from his campaign whether honor and patriotism are among his values, or only among his slogans. Based on the South Carolina campaign he ran against George Bush in 2000, and his weaseling on torture, the betting here is on “slogans.”


Playing the game this way would rely on the belief that (1) the press remains unwilling to call one of its favorite sources on the use of lies and indecent tactics and (2) the voters remain blissfully unaware of the ways in which they can be manipulated by slimy spinmeisters. Both beliefs seem well-founded.

See how it’s done? Without ever shedding his mantle of objectivity, Halperin gets to mention the objective fact that what he’s imagining as a McCain campaign would be disgusting.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: