FREAKS LIKE US! Mr. O(lbermann) was playing the fool—until Thomas Ricks slapped him down: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2006
EASY MARK: Glenn Greenwald has hammered Mark Halperin for his remarkable interview with Hugh Hewitt. (Click here—and click here.) For ourselves, we were struck by one minor part of the three-hour session. Early on, Hewitt asked Halperin who he has voted for in presidential elections—and Halperin said he doesnt vote. He went on, at some length, about his own high-minded motives:
HALPERIN (10/30/06): I think its important to try to restore credibility to the media, what we call the Old Media. And that requires doing what—the metaphor I used to use was weve got to be like Catholic priests and give up sex. But that metaphors lost some of its currency. We have to step away from politics. We cant have political views. So I dont discuss my political views. I dont discuss—I will say, somewhat controversial in the minds of some, I dont vote, because I think that just opens up the question of how can I say Im being objective, and fighting for truth, if Im making a decision about who to vote for in a presidential race.But Hewitt kept pushing—and Halperin kept explaining the principled reasons that keep him from voting. (For the record, some other major journalists observe this same policy.) Its all about the objectivity we must get to, if were going to restore faith and trust in these news organizations. But Hewitt kept pushing—and finally, Halperin semi-relented. He could say this much, he allowed:
HEWITT: If you had voted in 84, would it have been Mondale or Reagan?Although he doesnt take positions, have opinions or have political views, he was willing to say that Reagan was better! No, this doesnt involve a direct contradiction. But good lord! What an odd three hours!
Next week, more—much more—on the useful parts of Harris and Halperins new book, The Way to Win. We think this book, though deeply flawed, is also very important.
FREAKS LIKE US: Its sad to see us when we act just like them. But our hero, Keith Olbermann, was playing the fool as he introduced Thomas Ricks on Countdown Thursday night. But then, liberal heroes had been playing this card all day long on the liberal web:
OLBERMANN (11/2/06): Good evening from New York. This is Thursday, November 2, five days until the 2006 midterm elections. No matter what the outcome once the ballots have been counted, this much is certain. As long as President Bush has a job, Donald Rumsfeld will have one too.Wow! Republicans had been insulting U.S. troops in Iraq...by making the mess on the ground there entirely their fault? As it turned out, Olbermann—playing the fool—was referring to a comment by John Boehner. In fact, Boehners comment had been semi-dumb—but it had nothing to do with the troops. Keith continued:
OLBERMANN: We begin tonight with the details...Congressman John Boehner, the number two Republican in the House, defending not just the defense secretary, but also shifting responsibility for Iraq from Mr. Rumsfeld to the men and women in uniform on the ground there. Quote, "Let`s not blame what`s happening in Iraq on Rumsfeld. The fact is, the generals on the ground are in charge, and he works closely them and the president."Weird! Boehner did seem to be slamming the generals—but he hadnt said a word about the troops! But so what? All day long, the Democratic leadership had been attempting to parry the Kerry flap by pretending that Boehner had criticized the troops—just what Kerry was accused of doing. And sadly, handmaidens on the liberal web had pushed this stupid claim all day. Now, Mr. O was faking it too! And you could just tell that Keith was angry! Why, he even affected the outraged tone hes been perfecting in the past year. With that heartfelt tone in his voice, he cited the save Rummy by throwing the troops under the bus campaign which Boehner, a vile man, was now running.
Yes, Keith was playing his viewers for fools, trying to act like a pseudo-con spinner. But uh-oh! As weve long mentioned, we liberals arent practiced at this game, and we often look like dopes when we play it. In this case, Olbermann didnt seem to realize that serious guests—people like Ricks—wont play along with your Grade A bullshit just because youve made them your guest. Thomas Ricks is not a hack. And Oh. Our. God. Heres the first thing an annoyed Ricks said when Keith brought him on:
RICKS: Well, look, clearly some of it is Rumsfelds fault. You dont get a mess as big as Iraq through the faults of a few officials—Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld. What weve had in Iraq is a systemic failure. And actually, I think the Democrats can take a page from the Republicans book here. The generals are part of the problem in Iraq. A lot of decisions have been made poorly on the ground, and the generals have not really let themselves be criticized. So its one thing to criticize generals, its another thing to criticize troops. And I think if the Democrats realize theres a difference between the troops and the generals, theyd be better off.Ouch! An unvarnished facial! The generals have screwed up, Ricks said—and then he threw that bullshit back in Keiths face, the bullshit about Boehner criticizing the troops. Its one thing to criticize generals, its another thing to criticize troops, Ricks said. I think if the Democrats realize theres a difference between the troops and the generals, theyd be better off.
Yow! That stung! But Keith played it dumb. In service to Harry, he soldiered on, trying to stick to those absurd talking points. Indeed, Harry Reid must have pictures of Keith! Try to believe that he said it:
OLBERMANN (continuing directly): Do you think that in—contained in Congressman Boehners remarks about the responsibility there is a genuine insult to the generals, not to the troops?Poor Keith! Now he was upset to think that Boehner may have insulted the generals! And Oh. Our. God. Still annoyed, Ricks restated his blindingly obvious point—Boehner only mentioned the generals. Then he restated his larger point—the general have screwed up.
But nothing was going to stop Mr. O from treating his viewers like rubes, marks, cons, dimwits. Two questions later, he kept pretending that someone was blaming the troops:
OLBERMANN: It`s presumably useless to assign blame in a particular direction—its Rumsfelds fault, its the generals fault, its the troops fault. But would changes make any sense? Could a new secretary of defense, hypothetically, improve the scenario in Iraq? I mean, even during the civil war, President Lincoln fired his first secretary of war, changed the generals in command seemingly every few months. Is it—would it be of any use to change the secretary of defense?Does he take in Harry Reids laundry too? Indeed, once spoilsport Ricks had been safely dispatched, Keith turned one more time to his scripted bullshit. He spoke with our old pal, Craig Crawford:
OLBERMANN: And lastly, whether John Boehner was referring to just the generals, or the generals and the troops, how did he get away with that when John Kerry had the entire world fall down on top of his head?What could possibly make him think that Boehner had been referring to the generals and the troops? Oh thats right! Harry Reid said that he should pretend! But Crawford, like Ricks, wouldnt go there:
CRAWFORD (continuing directly): Well, I think its about, its a matter of, you know, taking the clips out of context or not, and making a campaign message out of it. It has to be driven. Somebody has to drive it. And Democrats dont tend to do that.Craig was more diplomatic than Ricks. When it comes to taking things out of context, he said, Democrats tend not to do it. But the implication in all that was obvious. Youd have to take things out of context to pretend that Boehner had criticized the troops. Unfortunately, Mr. O kept trying to do that all through this first segment.
Crawford was right, of course. In the past fifteen years, its pseudo-conservatives who have staged a giant Freak Show by playing the American public for fools. But uh-oh! Some pseudo-liberals are drawn to that practice too. They dream of inventing absurd, phony tales and cramming them straight down the rube publics throat. But uh-oh! Skills are involved this game. Last night, one of our brethren got smacked down a bit when he tried to do it.
He tried to fake it—just like Harry said. Next time, though, hell need faker guests. Some liberals want to stage Freak Shows too. But dang! We still dont have the skill-set.
PROVING IT ALL DAY LONG: Bright people pimped Harrys script all day long. Its embarrassing—but if you want, just click here. Translation: We can pretend that were just a bunch of big, stupid dumb-assess too.