2011 Half Time Report


Earthshaking disasters, GOP chaos, a royal wedding, bin Laden's burial--and Charlie Sheen. Our tour of 2011's madcap first six months.

Usually magazines wait until the end of the year before stepping back and taking stock. But this year--or the half that just ended--the news has been Bigger. Faster. Stronger. That's why we decided to jump the gun with our 2011 Halftime Report--a rich, witty, graphical assessment of the most head-spinning six months in recent memory. Hey, if sportscasters can do a midgame wrap, so can Newsweek.

Start with the Arab Spring, which began as Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself ablaze to protest government harassment--sparking a revolution. Tunisia's longtime president fell, and the movement quickly spread, via Twitter, Facebook, and old-fashioned word of mouth, to the oppressed youth of Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, and Libya. Meanwhile in America, in one whirling six-day span, President Obama proved he was born in Hawaii, torpedoed Donald Trump's dubious candidacy, and oversaw the Navy SEAL operation that took out the most wanted criminal on the planet. (Even then, the president didn't snag an invite to Will and Kate's wedding.)

An angry Mother Nature has perhaps played the lead role of the year, from the 9.0 earthquake--and ensuing tsunami/nuclear disaster--that struck Japan to an almost biblical accumulation of tornadoes, floods, drought, and wildfires. And a special nod, of course, to the former governor of California and the former congressman from Queens, N.Y., for their tabloid stimulus package.

Here's our take on the stories that have made 2011 such a wild ride so far.

Obama

Good President, Bad President

The right and left will always disagree. But when it comes to Barack Obama, they seem to be living in different realities. How liberals have interpreted Obama's major 2011 moments (blue), and how conservatives have responded (black). You decide who's crazy.

Intervenes in Libya

Carl Levin, Senator: "He has proceeded in a way that is cautious and thoughtful [and] decided the U.S. should take the lead for a short period of time to do what only we could."

Sarah Palin, Candidate?: "Profoundly disappointing [and] still full of chaos and questions--U.S. interests can't just mean--we wait for the French to lead us."

Reveals DEFICIT PLAN

Paul Krugman, economist: "The president's proposal isn't perfect, by a long shot--But the vision was right, and the numbers were far more credible" than the GOP's.

Charles KrautHammer, columnist: "A disgrace. I thought I've rarely heard a speech by a president so shallow, so hyperpartisan, and so intellectually dishonest."

Kills Bin Laden

Joe Biden, Veep: "We have a leader with a backbone like a ramrod--[This was] the boldest decision...any president has undertaken on a single event in modern history."

Rush Limbaugh, Radio host: "The liberals owe us an apology--for taking every opportunity to undermine [GOP] efforts to track down bin Laden."

Risks Gov't Shutdown

Jenny Backus, Strategist: "The president looks like the referee. He brings the warring kids into the Oval to negotiate a deal--He stayed out of it long enough that he doesn't own the mess."

Andrew Card, Bushie: "He's struggling to demonstrate to the American people that he's a leader when he hasn't been a leader for the last nine months."

Releases Birth Certificate

The New York Times: "More than halfway through his term, the president felt obliged to prove that he was a legitimate occupant of the Oval Office. It was a profoundly low--moment."

Jerome Corsi, birther: "The birth certificate released by the White House is a fraudulent document--The future of [his] administration depends upon [its] authenticity."

Delivers Mideast Speech

Lawrence O'Donnell, TV Host: Obama's position "on Israel's future borders is identical to the position of Israel's current prime minister--1967 borders plus swaps. …

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