Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Have You No Decency?

Posted by Teresa at 5:41 PM
Keith Olbermann likes to compare himself to Edward R. Murrow,
as we all know he is no Murrow. Howevever, Olbermann does remind
me of someone else that is historically linked to Murrow, Senator Joseph
McCarthy. I know Joseph McCarthy ruined lives with his witch hunt and
Olbermann hasn't. So I'm not saying they are morally equivalent. But I
was listening to a writer speak on Joe McCarthy show on BookTV today
and I couldn't help but think of Keith Olbermann. McCarthy was a television
bully. Olbermann is a television bully. McCarthy was paranoid. Olbermann
is paranoid
. McCarthy wanted to hunt down anyone with the stench of
communism. Olbermann wants anyone linked to the Bush administration
in jail. To prove this, let's just review last night's episode. Here is a clip:

(I highlighted words that a demagogue like Joseph McCarthy
might use):

As promised, a Special Comment now on the president's revelation of
the remainder of this nightmare of Bush Administration torture memos.
This President has gone where few before him, dared. The dirty laundry
illegal, un-American, self-defeating, self-destroying — is out for all
to see.

Mr. Obama deserves our praise and our thanks for that. And yet he
has gone but half-way. And, in this case, in far too many respects, half
the distance is worse than standing still. Today, Mr. President, in
acknowledging these science-fiction-like documents, you said that:

"This is a time for reflection, not retribution. I respect the strong views
and emotions that these issues evoke."

"We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history.

"But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will
be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.

Mr. President, you are wrong. What you describe would be not
"spent energy" but catharsis. Not "blame laid," but responsibility
ascribed. You continued:

"Our national greatness is embedded in America's ability to right its
course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with
confidence. That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and
instead come together on behalf of our common future."

Indeed we must, Mr. President. And the forces of which you speak
are the ones lingering — with pervasive stench — from the previous
administration. Far more than a criminal stench, Sir. An immoral
One we cannot let be re-created.

One, President Obama, it is your responsibility to make sure cannot be
re-created. Forgive me for quoting from a Comment I offered the night
before the inauguration. But this goes to the core of the President's
commendable, but wholly naive, intention. This country has never
"moved forward with confidence".without first cleansing itself of its
mistaken past.

In point of fact, every effort to merely draw a line in the sand and declare
the past dead has served only to keep the past alive and often to strengthen
it. We "moved forward" with slavery in the Declaration of Independence
and the Constitution. And four score and nine years later, we had buried
600,000 of our sons and brothers, in a Civil War.

After that war's ending, we "moved forward" without the social
restructuring — and protection of the rights of minorities — in the south.
And a century later, we had not only not resolved anything, but black
leaders were still being assassinated in our southern cities.

We "moved forward" with Germany in the reconstruction of Europe
after the First World War. Nobody even arrested the German Kaiser, let
alone conducted war crimes trials then. And 19 years later, there
was an indescribably more evil Germany and a more heart-rending
Second World War.

We "moved forward" with the trusts of the early 1900s. And today, we
are at the mercy of corporations too big to fail. We "moved forward" with
the Palmer Raids and got McCarthyism. And we "moved forward" with
McCarthyism and got Watergate. We "moved forward" with Watergate
and junior members of the Ford administration realized how little was
ultimately at risk.

They grew up to be Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld and Dick
Cheney. But, Mr. President, when you say we must "come together on
behalf of our common future" you are entirely correct. We must focus
on getting things right in the future, as opposed to looking at what we
got wrong in the past.

That means prosecuting all those involved in the Bush administration's
torture of prisoners, even if the results are nominal punishments, or
merely new laws. Your only other option is to let this set and fester
indefinitely. Because, Sir, some day there will be another Republican
president, or even a Democrat just as blind as Mr. Bush to ethics and
this country's moral force. And he will look back to what you did about
Mr. Bush. Or what you did not do.

And he will see precedent. Or as Cheney saw, he will see how not to get
caught next time. Prosecute, Mr. President. Even if you get not one
conviction, you will still have accomplished good for generations unborn.
Merely by acting, you will deny a further wrong — that this construction
will enter the history books: Torture was legal. It worked. It saved the

The end. This must not be. "It is our intention," you said today, "to assure
those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice
from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution."
Mr. President, you are making history's easiest, most often made, most
dangerous mistake — you are accepting the defense that somebody was
"just following orders." At the end of his first year in office, Mr. Lincoln
tried to contextualize the Civil War for those who still wanted to compromise
with evils of secession and slavery. "The struggle of today," Lincoln wrote,
"is not altogether for today. It is for a vast future also."

Mr. president, you have now been handed the beginning of that future.
Use it to protect our children and our distant descendants from anything
like this ever happening again — by showing them that those who did this,
were neither unfairly scapegoated nor absolved. It is good to say "we won't
do it again." It is not, however...enough.

Did you read that? Olbermann wants everyone in the Bush administration
prosecuted for war crimes! That's a demagogue! Olbermann calls his opponents
"un-American" just like McCarthy. Olbermann is not like Edward R. Murrow,
his rhetoric resembles that of Joseph McCarthy. He wants blood. He is emboldened
by what little power his show gives him. Why else would he call for the President of
the United States to resign and be prosecuted for war crimes? He thinks he yields
incredible powers. I want to know when someone will stand up to this verbal bully
and say "Have you no decency, sir?"
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