Progressives deserve something better: Just when you think youve seen it all, you get to see something even sillier.
Last night, the analysts involuntarily rose from their chairs when Keith Olbermann made the following remarks to his guest, Jonathan Alter. He was discussing Dick Cheneys radio interview with North Dakota talker Scott Hennen.
At least he didnt say it to our own Richard Wolffe. Our own Wolffe had already finished his nightly, 300-buck segment:
ALTER (5/8/09): [Republicans] could make some gains if Obamaif he were to somehow hit a really rocky period, they can make some gains. But if youre talking about any long-term comeback where they really become a significant force in American politics again, theyre going to have to change, have to update their message. And the smart Republicans understand this.
OLBERMANN: Well, how does this then fit into that? Because there was this ugly note that Mr. Hennen left out of the transcript which refers to General Powells political remarks and Hennen said he was tired of Powells tea-leaf reading, and he said he wished Powell would stay in his lane. And I don`t know who talks that way about a decorated veteran who also served as secretary of state. But even worse, Mr. Cheney said nothing in response to that.
Is that ultimately another Republican problem here, a sort of cultural problem, this disdainthat youre not a real American, even if youre a war herodisdain they have for anybody who disagrees with them?
Truly, there is no end to this programs clowning when Olbermann complains about disdain for anybody who disagrees with the views of some group. But if you will, just marvel at what the fiery progressive said about Colin Powell. In Friday nights script, Olbermann was deeply disturbed by Hennens outrageous remarks about Powellremarks which were in fact quite mild. But omigod! Weve reached the point where Powell must be treated as a war heroif youre a progressive, that is.
Lets be clear: Were not trying to stir up hatred against Powell. But were not sure if weve ever seen anyone describe him as a war hero (though well assume that people have). Over the past dozen years, the designation was endlessly applied to John McCain. But Powell hasnt typically been dubbed a war herountil a cable star wanted to play us progressives, pretending that a few mild remarks by a conservative talker went past the point of whats decent.
Our question: Was Powell a war hero when he threw together that gong-show reportthe report he pimped at the UN, solidifying elite opinion about the need for war with Iraq? In Bob Woodwards Plan of Attack, the author painted a very unflattering picture of the way the war hero assembled that iffy presentation (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/25/05). But we dont think weve ever seen Powell questioned about what Woodward wroteand now, were told that hes a war hero. Were told this great hero cant be criticized in even the mildest terms.
This show is a fraud, a gong-show, a joke, a scam apparently designed to sell its advertisers products to gullible young progressives. (To the demo. Earning millions for its host in the process.) Last nights show was crammed with the usual nonsense, spin and selected information, from its start right through to the finish. (Does Margaret Carlson ever research the topic shes booked to discuss? See below.) But on Countdown and the Maddow Show, weve now sat through a groaning progression in which Powelland top aides to himself and Riceare allowed to take free rides, as long as theyll trash Rumsfeld and Cheney. Last night, it got so silly that Powell was transformed into an unimpeachable war heroa man so great that he cant be criticized, even in the mildest terms. It was even worse when Cheney didnt rebuke that talker for his remarks, Olbermann clownishly said.
(By the way: Louis Caldera is a West Point graduate, a veteran, and a former secretary of the army. He was derided as a moron last nightby this same Powell-pimping host.)
This show is so dumbso utterly fakethat it virtually squeaks at this point. Could the explanation for this puzzle possibly lie in the world of Bill Wolff? Well begin to explore that question next week, noting that Wolff has a good sense of humor. But progressives deserve something much better than the relentless stream of nonsense this big fake host pimps forth.
Does Margaret Carlson ever prepare: Historys biggest heist is unfolding, Naomi Klein declared Wednesday night. But so what? As usual, Keith put forward his standard string of predictable and/or silly topics:
Fifth story: Cheney and torture. (Cheney is bad!)
Fourth story: Pelosi and torture. (Pelosi is good!)
Third story: Why is Louis Caldera so stupid?
Second story: A CBS sports guy said something stupid.
First story: Why isnt Sarah Palin (groan!) attending tonights big dinner?
As weve noted, this program discusses tortureand absolutely no other issue. After that, its nothing but fluff. You can loot the treasury all you want. This host doesnt plan to notice.
But then, we get to Margaret Carlson, called on the show to earn 300 bucks (we assume she gets paid) by discussing big dumb-ass Caldera. Does this re-purposed Dem-trasher ever prepare? This was her first exchange on the one lonely topic she had agreed to discuss:
OLBERMANN: Were joined now by Margaret Carlson, political columnist for Bloomberg News, Washington editor of The Week magazine. Margaret, good evening!
CARLSON: Good evening, Keith!
OLBERMANN: [Quoting Caldera] I have concluded that the controversy surrounding the fly-over has made it impossible for me to effectively lead the military office." It`s not, I have concluded that my bone-headedness has made it impossible for me to effectively lead the White House military office. Theres no apology. Theres no acceptance of responsibility. Is there a distinction?
CARLSON: Well, there is. And no one in Washington ever says, ImI apologize." They say, "If you were offended," or, "If you determine I did anything wrong." In other words, "If you`re so sensitive and such a wussy person that you found this wrong, then Im going to say to you, you sensitive person, Im sorry."
Whats interesting, if we were still in the Bush administration, there would have been no firing. It would have been, "Louis, what a heck of a job." Instead, there is responsibility at the top. He did something really horrendous. Theres no excuse, and he was let go.
And that is the amazing difference. I hope this continues, the difference between the Bush administration and the Obama administration.
What a pair of ninnies!
No one in Washington ever says I apologize, Carlson skillfully recited. No one except Caldera, that is. Heres what the gentleman said shortly after the ill-advised fly-over:
CALDERA (4/27/09): While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it's clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.
No wonder Caldera had to go! He said what no one ever says!
Someone may have whispered in Keiths ear, or he may have known all along. At any rate, he directly said this to Carlson, as soon as her praise for Obama was finished: To his credit, right after it happened, Caldera stepped up and took responsibility for it. Moments later, Margaret thanked her host for the key information. Im glad you reminded me that Caldera did take responsibility, she unapologetically said.
This program has spiraled down into a joke. Progressivesall Americansdeserve something much better. Last night, the first two topics were predictably staged; the last three topics were typically pointless. Klein says your future is being looted (again). One looter doesnt much care.
Meanwhile, the question remains: Does Carlson ever research anything? True, shes been re-purposed as a Democrat-loverafter years of performing her mocking impression of Candidate Gore on major CNN programs. (Bob Novak, producer of Capital Gang, was the fame-giver she had to please then.)
Shes been re-purposed for a new cable age. But her disdainfor youlingers on.