As many know by now, Mark Halperin, a political analyst, believing he was not heard on air, gave his opinion of President Obama’s press conference on Wednesday’s Morning Joe’s show by saying: “I thought he was kind of a dick yesterday.” He did apologize several hours later saying the comments were disrespectful and inappropriate to the president and the office. Mark Halperin, a skilled commentator knows that comments are potentially always on air as long as the mic is on. And his mic was on. So, I’m not quite buying that he made the comment believing it would be edited out. Why make the comment in the first place?
And this is not the first time that someone has disrespected the presidency and President Obama in a public arena. Many may recall when Congressman Joe Wilson (R. SC) shouted out during the President’s speech before Congress in 2009, “You lie”. Of course, nothing was done to him. MSNBC indefinitely suspended Halperin for his disrespectful and inappropriate comments. Of course, he can just go on Fox News and make a very substantial living. They will love to have him on air.
Even though many may have thought the same thing of President George W. Bush or worse, I don’t ever recall hearing anyone say it publicly. And I dare to think what Republicans would have done, if anyone referred to George W. Bush in that manner. And that’s the point. If you are appearing on national, local or anything remotely being televised to people, you might consider keeping any inappropriate and disrespectful comments about our president to yourself. That includes when you think they will not be broadcast. Save them for your close family and friends. They have no place on national TV. This is not a partisan issue. This is an American issue. So, I disagree with the Mother Jones article on June 30 and others who think that it was fine for Halperin to say it publicly. What type of lesson do we teach our children by these comments?
There were public gaffes before President Obama became president. Who could forget Bill Clinton’s off air comments and Jesse Jackson’s too. It’s not worth repeating either of those in this commentary. But, none of those remarks were made since President Obama took the office of president. And that should be where the buck stops. Every time some pundit, politician or Fox News contributor or show host publicly demeans President Obama, they also bring disrespect to the office of the presidency. Yes, we have free speech but even free speech is not really free, as Mark Halperin discovered.
We look foolish to the world stage. In the democratic countries abroad, it’s rare to ever hear anyone demean their high office. Perhaps, we should take our lessons from abroad. We apparently have no manners or home training at home. I’d like to think that in the future, we will not hear any more inappropriate comments hurled at President Obama. I know that’s just wishful thinking on my part. I do hope that more people will come to the defense of the office of presidency and the man in the office whenever these types of comments are made in the future. I was always taught that if you don’t respect yourself, no one else will. As Americans, we need to respect our president and the office of the presidency, as others abroad do.
Debbie Hines is a lawyer , blogger and legal and political commentator.
She is frequently seen in the media speaking on issues affecting women and
African Americans. She also writes for the Huffington Post. She holds a
Juris Doctorate from George Washington University Law School and a BA from the
University of PA.