Olbermann's Special Comments
Friday, October 6, 2006; 11:56 AM
The traditional media has been slow to come to grips with the American public's distrust and dislike of President Bush -- sentiments clearly reflected in opinion polls dating back well over a year.
Almost alone among the network newscasters, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann is channeling that sensibility. Channeling it -- and amplifying it.
In fact, the increasingly shrill Olbermann is fast becoming the Howard Beale of the anti-Bush era: He's mad as hell, and he's not going to take it anymore.
At issue: The sorts of rhetorical excesses in Bush's campaign speeches recently handled (with kid gloves) by such mainstream journalists as McClatchy's Ron Hutcheson and The Washington Post's Peter Baker -- and on which I've been harping for ages, most recently in my Bush's Imaginary Foes column.
What apparently set off Olbermann in particular was when Bush recently described a vote against his warrantless wiretapping plan as being the same as saying "we don't think we ought to be listening to the conversations of terrorists" -- and when Bush said of the Democratic leadership: "It sounds like they think the best way to protect the American people is -- wait until we're attacked again."
Here's Olbermann yesterday: "The president doesn't just hear what he wants. He hears things that only he can hear.
"It defies belief that this president and his administration could continue to find new unexplored political gutters into which they could wallow. Yet they do.
"It is startling enough that such things could be said out loud by any president of this nation. Rhetorically, it is about an inch short of Mr. Bush accusing Democratic leaders, Democrats, the majority of Americans who disagree with his policies, of treason. . . .
"No Democrat, sir, has ever said anything approaching the suggestion that the best means of self-defense is to 'wait until we're attacked again.'
"No critic, no commentator, no reluctant Republican in the Senate has ever said anything that any responsible person could even have exaggerated into the slander you spoke in Nevada on Monday night, nor the slander you spoke in California on Tuesday, nor the slander you spoke in Arizona on Wednesday . . . nor whatever is next. . . .
"But tonight the stark question we must face is -- why?