Last night’s Keith Olbermann “Special Comment” went on for about 15 minutes. It was without doubt the longest, strangest, most spittle-flecked Olbermann rant in at least a week.
It begins with a wild accusation.
It is a fact startling in its cynical simplicity and it requires cynical and simple words to be properly expressed: The presidency of George W. Bush has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush.
All the petulancy, all the childish threats, all the blank-stare stupidity; all the invocations of World War III, all the sophistic questions about which terrorist attacks we wanted him not to stop, all the phony secrets; all the claims of executive privilege, all the stumbling tap-dancing of his nominees, all the verbal flatulence of his apologists…
All of it is now, after one revelation last week, transparently clear for what it is: the pathetic and desperate manipulation of the government, the refocusing of our entire nation, toward keeping this mock president and this unstable vice president and this departed wildly self-overrating attorney general, and the others, from potential prosecution for having approved or ordered the illegal torture of prisoners being held in the name of this country.
Got that? The Bush administration itself is a criminal conspiracy. If that were true, then as you’ll see later on in Olbermann’s comment, his first paragraph would have landed him in jail because he would have run afoul of “fascists.” So the sum of his special comment is that it’s self disproving. Odds that he’ll notice that — zero.
The genesis of Olbermann’s criminal conspiracy accusation is the ABC report from last week that detailed a few facts about water boarding as it was practiced on 3 al Qaeda figures up to 2003.
For all the debate over waterboarding, it has been used on only three al Qaeda figures, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials.
As ABC News first reported in September, waterboarding has not been used since 2003 and has been specifically prohibited since Gen. Michael Hayden took over as CIA director.
Officials told ABC News on Sept. 14 that the controversial interrogation technique, in which a suspect has water poured over his mouth and nose to stimulate a drowning reflex as shown in the above demonstration, had been banned by the CIA director at the recommendation of his deputy, Steve Kappes.
Hayden sought and received approval from the White House to remove waterboarding from the list of approved interrogation techniques first authorized by a presidential finding in 2002.
The officials say the decision was made sometime last year but has never been publicly disclosed by the CIA.
Olbermann gets around to noting that there were only 3 figures waterboarded about 5 minutes into his rant. He never gets around to noting that the waterboarding of Khalid Sheik Mohammed may have saved thousands of lives, and never acknowledges that having KSM in custody amounted to the ticking time bomb scenario that everyone discusses as being the only case when torture might be acceptable. I say that KSM’s interrogation amounted to the ticking time bomb because, as the mastermind of al Qaeda plots world wide including 9-11, KSM was in a position to know of most if not all AQ plots that were in motion as of his capture. He was one of just a handful, maybe 3 to 5 very senior level AQ officers, who would have been knowledgeable about ongoing plots. US officials, of course, had little idea what KSM might or might not know, or when any of the possible plots that KSM did know about might be set to go hot. But they knew that if anyone then in custody knew, it would be KSM. So they waterboarded him to find out what he knew, and he knew of quite a lot. His capture brought us as close to the ticking time bomb scenario as we’re likely to get off the set of 24.
If given the chance to ask Olbermann, I’d put this question to him: What would you have done if the decision to interrogate KSM had been yours, and whatever course you took could on the one hand affect one guilty man or the lives of thousands of innocents? These choices are never as easy as a mic jockey like Olbermann would lead his followers to believe.
Olbermann is Exhibit A in why it’s problematic give opinionated, ignorant, incurious swine network airtime to sway public opinion in the middle of a war. Olbermann gathers just enough facts to allow him to twist up a case against his enemies, but he doesn’t marshall enough facts to deliver any kind of reasonable picture of what’s really taking place or what he might do if he had the responsibility of deciding what ought or ought not be done. He doesn’t have that responsibility, he has never had it and he will never have it. He’ll never have to answer the question of what he would do if the responsibility were his. He’s not brave enough to hold that responsibility, and even if he was, the country isn’t foolish enough to give it to him. He’s just a blowhard sportscaster with an attic full of axes to grind and free reign to opine on whatever pops into his mind.
Do the suits over at MSNBC ever listen to the nonsense that comes out of Olbermann’s mouth? Evidently not, or they might have caught this prize passage several tortuous minutes into Olby’s soliloquy.
From its beginning as the most neglectful protection ever of the lives and safety of the American people … into the most efficient and cynical exploitation of tragedy for political gain in this country’s history … and, then, to the giddying prospect that you could do what the military fanatics did in Japan in the 1930s and remake a nation into a fascist state so efficient and so self-sustaining that the fascism would be nearly invisible.
Invisible fascism? That’s a neat trick, but it’s nonsense. Fascism is pointless if you can’t see it, or if it’s so insubstantial that you can just see right through it. Fascism, Keith, is one of those movements that produces a lot of very visible evidence. Nationalization of industry, like that going on in Venezuela. Goose-stepping minions, like that going on in Iran and what went on in Italy in the 1930s. Rounding up of political and journalistic opposition, like that going on in Russia. That’s fascism in one form or another.
It’s unlike anything that’s going on in the United States.
But by calling the Bush administration’s alleged fascism “nearly invisible,” Olbermann has pulled off the neat trick (if you’re dumb enough not catch the sleight of hand) of not having to produce any evidence to back up what he’s saying. Because he can’t. Because there isn’t any. It’s as made up as a Jayson Blair quote or a New Republic fact-check.
Not that any of that will matter to our friends on the left. The Olbermann fan club will nod and cheer at his bravery, they’ll pass around the clip and the link and live it up. They’ll bask in Olbermann’s bravery by proxy, smug that they’re standing up to the evil man and his minions in the White House. They’ll compare Tim Russert to Hitler for —gasp— asking tough questions of Hillary Clinton, the irony that their own mau mauing of Fox News and of journalists that they don’t like and talk show hosts that outwit them and their support for the Orwellian “Fairness Doctrine,” the “outing” of political opponents, the posting of home addresses and slashing of tires, the trashing of military recruiting stations, the desecration of military graves and the constant smears and so many more of the left’s more hard boiled actions more closely resemble fascist thug tactics than anything the Bush administration has done or will ever do.
Those people doing those things are your people, Olbermann. You whip them into a 15-minutes hate with Special Comments like last night’s. They’re more likely to goose step on your command, pal, not George Bush’s.