Continetti is guest-blogging for The Post.
MSNBC has suspended author and commentator Mark Halperin for using an unfortunate word to describe President Obama’s behavior during his news conference yesterday. I agree with those who say that the network’s decision is a ridiculous overreaction. But all this never would have happened if only MSNBC had booked National Affairs editor Yuval Levin, who delivered the best take-down of the president's remarks that I've read anywhere]:
It all had the feel of a childish tantrum by a person who desperately wishes he were living in a different reality — one in which he is the heroic man of action and his opponents are irresponsible and weak. But the fact is, the president and congressional Democrats have so far utterly failed to offer any path out of our fiscal problems — problems that they have greatly exacerbated. The president proposed a budget in February that would have increased the deficit, and then he retracted it in April and proposed nothing in particular in its place. Senate Democrats have not proposed a budget in two years; they now suggest they finally have one, though apparently it won’t really be brought to a vote. Republicans, meanwhile, have proposed a specific path out of our fiscal mess — averting a debt crisis and setting the budget on a course toward balance through discretionary cuts, budget-process reforms, and gradual but significant entitlement reforms. Rather than negotiate over that budget, the president has chosen to play the demagogue, simultaneously insisting that the budget offers nothing and that it goes too far in cutting government services (medical research, food inspectors, and the weather service are apparently in particular danger, he said yesterday, providing a kind of Salvador Dali map of post-modern lifestyle liberalism).
Yes, plenty of Americans admire President Obama personally while disapproving of his job performance. But there is also a peevish side to Barack Obama that does not wear well. Remember “You’re likable enough, Hillary”? Or when the president dismissed Sen. John McCain at the health-care summit by saying, “The election’s over, John”? Or when he tried to exclude Fox News from interviews? Or when he got angry at a local television reporter for asking semi-tough questions?
Karl Rove’s right: The 2012 GOP nominee should “fiercely challenge Mr. Obama’s policies, actions and leadership using the president’s own words, but should stay away from questioning his motives, patriotism or character.” Still: If the GOP nominee uses good-natured humor to needle Obama’s record, then the president likely will show his bad side. And the country won’t like it.