Thursday, August 31, 2006

Keith Olberman on Rumsfeld's "Appeasement" speech

I didn't see Olberman the other night - I was otherwise occupied. I understand it was blistering. In case you missed him, Crooks and Liars has videos of it, and also the following transcript, which I print in full:

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack. Donald S. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable comments to the Veterans of Foreign Wars yesterday demand the deep analysis - and the sober contemplation - of every American. For they do not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence - indeed, the loyalty — of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land; Worse, still, they credit those same transient occupants - our employees — with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; And not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as "his" troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.
It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile… it is right — and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.

In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For, in their time, there was another government faced with true peril - with a growing evil - powerful and remorseless.
That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the secret information. It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s - questioning their intellect and their morality.

That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.

It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone England. It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords. It knew that the hard evidence it received, which contradicted policies, conclusions - and omniscience — needed to be dismissed. The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew
the truth. Most relevant of all - it "knew" that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile - at best… morally or intellectually confused.

That critic’s name… was Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

History - and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England - taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty - and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.

Thus did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy.

Excepting the fact that he has the battery plugged in backwards. His government, absolute - and exclusive - in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis. It is the modern version of the government… of Neville Chamberlain.

But back to today’s Omniscients. That about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused… is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely. And as such, all voices count — not just his. Had he or his President perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience - about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago - about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago - about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one* year ago - we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their omniscience as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego. But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.

Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire "Fog of Fear" which continues to enveloppe this nation - he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies, have - inadvertently or intentionally - profited and benefited, both personally, and politically. And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and
the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes.

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised?

As a child, of whose heroism did he read?

On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight?

With what country has he confused… the United States of America?

—–

The confusion we — as its citizens - must now address, is stark and forbidding. But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note - with hope in your heart - that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light… and we can, too.

The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this Administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.

—-

And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a "new type of fascism." As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that — though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.

This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.

—-

Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute… I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow.

But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed, "confused" or "immoral."

Thus forgive me for reading Murrow in full:

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty," he said, in 1954. "We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

"We will not walk in fear - one, of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of un-reason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men;

"Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were - for the moment - unpopular."

15 comments:

karena said...

Brilliant in every way, Diva. The Murrow quotes gave me chills up my spine.

This morning the Mayor of Salt Lake City, Rocky Anderson, was being raked over the coals for participating in the war protest (huge)there. He was basically being told that the local politicians should stay out of it, which is a freaking outrage since Rove and the boys all know how important it is to recruit supporters in politics at every local level, including judges. But anyway, Rocky Anderson said his role is larger than "ceremonial" where you stand up and clap when someone is given an award. Good for him. He is one of my hero Rocky's unlike Rockeeeeeeeey. Another of my hero Rockey's is Rocky Barrett, Leader of the Potawatamie Indian tribe in Oklahoma. He calls the current cabal of crooks the right-wing nuts and where the heck am I going with all this?

Basically, there are folks in leadership positions who are not going to stand for Rummy and Shrubbery insulting all Muslims with this new label of Islamofascists, and insulting all Americans who oppose this ridiculous war that Bush claims "we did not start." I hope those in power with voices start standing up, 'cause when they stand up, the Bush Cabal will be forced to "stand down."

Tina said...

Diva: Great minds so frequently think alike... sigh... but we watch Keith every single night. In fact (and I almost added this to my post about Keith's fierce bitchslap of RumSkull) that BabyGirl has a serious crush on Keith. It is true. Hubby and I didn't even know that she had any concept of what a "boyfriend" was, but just a few months ago, she walked over to the TV, blew Keith a kiss, and said "Keef Older-man, I love you."
Hubby of course, is slighty wounded, as he has been the only man in her life until now... but he said with a sigh, that if his little girl absolutely must date and if Keith is the kind of guy she'll go for (smart, well spoke, anti Neo-Con/ Bush) then he'll put away the shotgun when a boy comes a calling when she is old enough to date..... Hubby is sooo delusional. He has no idea what he's facing when she becomes a teenager.

Kvatch said...

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack. Donald S. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

...and he's not a quack either. Olbermann made many great points in that commentary, but calling Rumsfeld out as deluded was not one of them. I know that I'm going to take flack for this, but Rumsfeld is just a simple cog in the Bu$hCo distortion machine. He doesn't give a sh*t about what he's saying as long as it can be used to keep this administration in power. If the history of the last 5 years teaches us anything, it's that these naive, historically indefensible, comparisons work for the GOP, and they'll continue to use them until it they stop working.

Tina said...

I wanted to tell ya before you leave (and I'm sure you have 10 bazillion things to do Thursday night) to have a very safe and fun trip. Gaze at some buff Australian men, eat fabulous food, and enjoy yourself til it hurts.... and you had best remember this girl: NO PEROXIDE in your carry-on. Hugs!

betmo said...

i have to disagree with you kvatch about rummy. i think that he and cheney and wolfowitz came up with this plan when they worked together during nixon's tenure. they have brought others in as they have progressed up the political ladder- hence the 1994 repub takeover in congress. rummy is no mere pawn but a major player. he knows exactly what he is saying and he doesn't give a crap about anyone outside of his exclusive trio.

betmo said...

oh diva- have a great time!!!!!

Frederick said...

oh that frog...lol

DivaJood said...

Karena, Olberman really took it to Rumsfeld - I wish I had actually seen it live. We've not really had a slew of great main-stream journalists on television lately, which is one of the reasons I stopped watching - but maybe more and more people will start speaking up. We certainly do.

Tina, clearly Baby Girl has great taste! I love the name: Keef Older-man. But when I was a child, my parents watched Edward R. Murrow - and they thought he was brilliant. Our parents have great influence; clearly you and Mr. Fuzzy are teaching Baby Girl something solid.

Kvatch, I don't think frogs can catch flak. Flies maybe. But I disagree with you - I think Betmo is absolutely right - Rummy knows exactly what he's doing. He is a major player, and this path is the path that he, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Kristol, all developed.

Fred, that frog does say the damndest things sometimes.

I've not begun to pack, will do that during the day tomorrow. Off to the land downunder, with no peroxide in my carry on bags. But I do have my lipstick.

Comandante Agí said...

Bush is the simple (and simple-minded) cog. Rummy and Cheney are the brains of the machine. They are the ones who were part of PNAC. Bush is merely the emporer without any clothes.

I saw a great sign at the Salt Lake protest on TV the other night. It read: "Bush - It's not God you are talking to, it's Satan!"

robin andrea said...

Watching Keith Olbermann brought tears to my eyes, but put a fire in my belly. He said it all, and with passion and brilliance. I want to hear it said like that everyday. We want our country back.

Have a safe and wonderful journey, divajood.

pissed off patricia said...

I hope this is a little breeze from the winds of change. Keith deserves a reward for what he said. It's about time someone spoke up. Wonder if any congress creatures will do the same? I'm not holding my breath.

Happy Weekend Everyone!

enigma4ever said...

I hope I said this...but I can't remember..Have a wonderful time Diva...and yes, Keith is so dead on with what he said,....beautiful said..every last word...

DivaJood said...

Agi, welcome back from your trip. The sign you saw is terrific!

Robin Andrea, I saw the video last night over at E4E's site, and was electrified. He is our Edward R. Murrow.

POP, I believe we are finally into action. I pack today with some sense of hope.

E4E, thank you! I am so looking forward to my trip - and thank you for posting the video of Olbermann's commentary. He is my hero.

Alicia said...

Wasn't that awesome, Diva? I just loved it. I have a girlfriend who had the biggest crush on Keith Olbermann when he was a local sportscaster here in LA. She was actually kind of stalking him - at least bombarding him with letters and phone calls (back in the pre-email dark ages of the early 90s). And now look at him! I'm so proud.

Keef Older-man - that's priceless!

I hope you have a fantasic trip and take lots of pictures so we can live vicariously through you. I'll tell John Dean you said 'Hi' (that is, if he's still doing the PDLA evening - I hope I hope I hope)!

karena said...

Keef-Older-Man is priceless.