Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I break with Olbermann
I make no secret of the fact that I enjoy and admire Keith Olbermann's commentary. He's a smart-ass intellectual who makes Bill O'Reilly cry. What's not to like? In his latest editorial, he slaps President Bush around for sliming his critics and for his scare-mongering election season tactics. This is the point at which I have to break with Olbermann. I think he's pulling his punches and going too easy on Bush.

Here's the offending paragraph:
It is to our deep national shame—and ultimately it will be to the President’s deep personal regret—that he has followed his Secretary of Defense down the path of trying to tie those loyal Americans who disagree with his policies—or even question their effectiveness or execution—to the Nazis of the past, and the al Qaeda of the present.

What bothers me is the implication that Bush is merely following Rumsfeld's lead. It suggests that the current round of flinging the word "fascism" around and impugning the patriotism of anyone who questions the administration was a spontaneous development--that Bush, Rice, Santorum, and others had no intention of doing this until they heard Rumsfeld go down that path.

This is not a random happening; it is a planned and coordinated information campaign aimed at hanging on to power in the coming election. It is, in fact, the exact same strategy that they have unleashed every time they feel their power slipping since 2001. The only difference is the prominence of the fascism metaphor. As long ago as January, Karl Rove was openly announcing his intention to use terrorism as a centerpiece of this year's election strategy. The administration began market testing the fascism meme at the beginning of August with Bush's speech following the London arrests. A strategy like this does not emerge in imitation of a lieutenant. It is something that is discussed and approved at the very highest level. In this administration, that means Bush, not Rumsfeld.

I'd like to see Rumsfeld booted out as much as the next knee-jerk liberal, but I'm careful not to loose sight of the real problem here. In any gang of playground bullies, there is a leader, a circle of toadies, and an audience that tolerates their behavior. While it might be very satisfying to slap around one of the toadies and send him home crying, doing that doesn't solve the bully problem. To solve the bully problem, you heave to isolate the gang from their audience and take away their leader. To repeat myself, in this administration, that means Bush, not Rumsfeld.

To Keith Olbermann I say, keep up the great work, but don’t loose sight of who’s the leader of this gang.

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