Friday, September 12, 2008

Keith Olbermann Calls Out McCain

And it needed to be done. Olbermann comments, angrily, on how the Republicans have appropriated the memory of 9/11 for political purposes. This is stunning.

11 comments:

Megan said...

Holy shit. That is stunning.

D. Prince said...

Just knowing Keith Olbermann is out there makes me feel better. Amazing.

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

Brilliant. I think if he'd have gone any further, he'd have started crying.

Johnny Yen said...

My god I love that guy!

No wonder MSNBC pulled him from the anchor. He's clearly unable any more to watch the Republican charade without calling it out.

Piedmont Post said...

Olbermann's a total dirtbag: http://piedmontpost.blogspot.com/2008/09/dirtbag-of-day.html

MC said...

Re: PP's comment: Another take on that same event with video.

SamuraiFrog said...

The funny thing, MC, about Piedmont's post is that it's indicative of a trend that I'm seeing all over the place: Republican apologists who can't take issue with what someone actually said, and instead decide that saying it wasn't appropriate for some made-up reason.

I mean, he didn't say Olbermann was wrong. He just said it was an inappropriate time to say it.

The apologists are getting lamer and lamer all the time.

themom said...

I almost posted the same video clip. I don't get MSNBC (stupid rural cable), but find clips online (they can run but can't hide). When I saw this clip I was in awe...that someone finally said the right thing. McCain has abused the 9/11 tragedy and his POW status beyond what we can bear. Hopefully, people will begin to listen in the next few weeks - to the reality of what we may face with McCain sharing the chair with Bush and Rove and.....

Brian said...

I'm happy to say it: Olbermann was wrong. Dead wrong. And worse than that, I think he knows it.

A political convention isn't for children, it's for adults. And adults can discuss what happened on 9/11 without white-washing it to make it more comfortable to deal with. Those images aren't something any of us will ever forget, and showing them again doesn't denigrate anything or disrespect anyone. In fact, not showing them would suggest that it's all right to forget what happened, all right to remember the victims just as generic victims and not as victims of a specific act. That's the kind of thinking that allows it to happen again. Kind of like when we go three years without a serious hurricane in New Orleans and everyone stops focusing on levee repair, until we need them for Gustav and then realize that oops - we're a little late on that repair work, aren't we?

As for "9/11 TM," there he makes a valid, if not cynical point. The Republicans have used the attacks to draw distinctions between the parties, and to validate/rationalize their policies. I'm quick to notice, though, that Mr. Olbermann has also "trademarked" 9/11 as one of his key talking points against an administration that he desparately needs to discredit, be it with facts or melodramatic "special comment" pieces on the evening news. He speaks about it at least as often as Rudy Giuliani does, and Rudy Giuliani is not a journalist.

And then there's the lying...

He speaks of ignored warnings that weren't actionable. He makes a point of suggesting that Bush was 20% through his term when 9/11 occurred, as if Islamic terrorism simply did not exist until Bush took the oath of office. I feel no need to blame a particular administration for the attacks, but are we really to believe that the attack on the USS Cole, coordinated by the same man (Khalid Sheik Muhmmad) that coordinated 9/11 as a means of proving to bin Laden that he was worthy of such an assignment, was completely irrelevant? Does it matter that Bill Clinton was President at the time?

He accuses Rudy Giuliani of "turrets-like reptition of 9/11" when, in a 35 minute convention speech, he mentioned it exactly once. He suggests that the mention of the Iranian hostage crisis was an attempt to justify some future war with Iran (which, by the way, despite all of Olbermann's warnings for the last 12-24 months, has failed to materialize), as if that crisis wasn't the first in a long string of ever-increasing Islamic terrorist acts against the United States. He ignores the fact that both Giuliani and Gov. George Pataki were hailed as heroes for putting their offices back in the World Trade Center, when doing so meant revitalizing downtown Manhattan at a time when it seemed the whole thing would shut down out of risk-aversion and fear.

And then he goes off on John McCain. Any reasonable person can read "I know how to capture Osama bin Laden" as "I know how to manage the military and the intelligence community so that it takes the right steps and ultimately achieves his goal." But Olbermann careuflly establishes a straw man (McCain has a super-secret plan that he's not telling anyone about), then all but calls him a traitor for doing so. And when he's done with that, he accuses him of blackmail.

My vote this election will likely go for Barack Obama. I'm looking at his various plans, his thought processes, his ability to reason through a problem and yes, his experience. I make my decisions based on the things a president will actually be asked to do.

It is not necessary to paint John McCain as an evil, traitorous, blackmailing, criminal in order to convince me to vote for Obama.

For anyone to attempt it is, to use your word, lame. For a supposed journalist to attempt it is lame AND irresponsible.

SamuraiFrog said...

Okay, so we've gotten to the quibbling and parsing in order to make a point. I was waiting for that.

Olbermann was taking issue with the tone of McCain's 9/11 propaganda video just as much as the content. It doesn't take a genius to see that the point of the video was Democratic president = another 9/11.

Also, the quibble, quibble, quibble over Olbermann being a journalist is ridiculous. I love how people are pushing this agenda of journalists somehow having to be completely impartial to report the news. Where have you ever seen that in your life? Because I certainly never have.

You may not agree with what he said, but I don't see a lot of lying going on there. Giuliani does mention 9/11 a lot. He might not have done so at the RNC, but it was the cornerstone of his presidential campaign. Bush didn't act on terror warnings, Clinton did. When Clinton was acting against bin Laden, people accused of him of trying to distract people from Monica Lewinsky. Clinton had problems getting the Republican-controlled Congress to act on Richard Clarke's plan to capture bin Laden for years before 9/11 happened. The Bush administration chose to ignore things that had been important to Clinton because they were important to Clinton.

Of course any reasonable person can interpret McCain's words one way, but they can be interpreted another. But McCain didn't say "I know how to manage the military and the intelligence community so that it takes the right steps and ultimately achieves this goal," did he? Whether or not that's even true (and if it is, where has this been for the last 7 years, let alone for the last 26), McCain chose his words on purpose. McCain chose his words for the unreasonable people, and he chose them as a veiled threat: "Obama wants to open the door for terrorists, but I will protect you if you elect me." That is blackmail.

You've decided to vote for Obama, and you've done so very thoughtfully, and I applaud you for thinking about it. The unfortunate thing is that too often elections turn on the people who don't give enough thought to it, who believe people like McCain when they say they have a super-secret plan (just like Nixon said he did for Vietnam), and who don't know that McCain, as one of the Keating Five, is, in fact, a criminal.

Politics as presence have completely taken over now. And for a journalist to not point that out is lame and irresponsible.

Brian said...

I'm happy to discuss the facts that underlie our political debate. I don't see it as quibbling, even if we disagree, and I'm glad to engage with you in doing so.

To wit:

- Yes, Giuliani does talk about 9/11 a lot. As well he should. He probably knows more about it than any single person alive (with the possible exception of the 9/11 commission members). It has shaped his world view, and I'd rather he be honest than pander. That said, this is not the first time I've seen this. Giuliani rarely speaks briefly - he runs at the mouth like your typical New Yawker (I saw this with pride as a NYC'er myself), and his speeches can be long and involved. No matter how long he speaks, though, the media (Olbermann included, but not just him) will pull out the 9/11-related clips and show them over & over again. At the end of the day, his media persona is "noun, verb, 9/11." My point was, this is just as much a matter of the media "trademarking" 9/11 as anyone in the Republican party.

- Clinton acted on terror warnings? Go back and read your own post.. Clinton had several opportunities to go after Bin Laden, and chose not to in all but one case. Those decisions may have been justified (concern over the Arab street, angering nuclear-capable countries like Pakistan, etc.), but the fact is, he never responded in any significant way. The 9/11 Commission Report tells us that even Bin Laden was stupefied that the US didn't respond when he bombed the USS Cole. Clinton said he couldn't go in until the CIA verified that the attack was committed by Al Qaeda.

Upon taking office, George Bush famously told Condi Rice and the NSA staff, "I'm tired of swatting at flies" and asked for a comprehensive plan to completely & totally root out Al Qaeda. Unfortunately, that report landed on his desk on 9/10/01. You may see this as "ignoring things that had been important to Clinton because they were important to Clinton," but I see it as a fundamental difference in approach: Clinton acted only on what he was absolutely sure was true; Bush acted on what he believed to be true based a preponderance of the evidence and a sense of the consequences of waiting for conclusive proof. Obviously, Bush's policies had lousy success rates, but I try to separate the execution from the strategy, and I gotta say, if I were Bush in January of 2001, I probably would have done the same thing.

- Re: McCain - yes, he chose his words to appeal to the mass market and sell his product (his candidacy). True of all marketing materials, and believe me - the presidential campaign is the mother of all marketing materials. So yes, he chose his words on purpose, but the rather sticky fact (for Olbermann, anyway) is that he DIDN'T say he had a super-secret plan to capture Bin Laden. Once you buy into the "fact" that he did, though, then yes - it's easy to see him as a blackmailer and a traitor.

- Last point: you've got to be careful when you accuse people of lacking thoughtfullness and then tell them that McCain is, in fact, a criminal because he was one of the Keating Five. Here's the wiki page - take a gander at it. Of the five senators, the conclusions of the investigations were as follows:

Alan Cranston: Severely Reprimanded.

Donald Riegle and Dennis DeConcini: criticized for acting improperly

John Glenn and John McCain: cleared of impropriety but criticized for poor judgment.

"Cleared of Impropriety" does not equal "criminal," at least not in the United States of America...