Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Smack Down

I can't begin to do justice to Keith Olbermann's stunning rebuke to Rumsfeld's speech yesterday so I'll let his eloquent words speak for themselves...and for me.

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday demands the deep analysis—and the sober contemplation—of every American.

For it did 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, it credits 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 its own policies, its own conclusions — its own 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.

* * * *
You can read the rest of it here.

Update: Here's the video of Olbermann's commentary. I promise to provide a clip of Rumsfeld's speech as soon as I locate it...and after I read it:)

(Posted by Portia)


Cassandra said...

Not having read Rumsfeld's speech, it's hard to comment, Portia. I will say that having read all to much of Olberman's work... well, perhaps I need to read both his and Rumsfeld's magnum opii before commenting.

As always, food for thought :) I think here we have two people who tend to see things in terms of extremes. The Chamberlain analogy strikes me as a bit strained.

Cassandra said...

OK Portia, I have read Rumsfeld's speech, and honestly, all I can say is this:

I am absolutely stunned. And deeply saddened.

I have no love for Rumsfeld and never have. I've been criticizing the man for years. But there is no way in hell I can conjure into that speech what Olberman says is there.

I deleted the majority of my comment because it's too emotional, but the gist of it is this: when did simply questioning what the right course is for this nation become fascism? If you read R's speech carefully, or here's a thought - just read it - that's precisely what it's all about. He didn't question anyone's loyalty. He said he thought some people were confused about the nature of what we were fighting (a true statement, IMO) and were distorting coverage of the war (damned hard to argue when there are 500 stories about Koran flushing - which never happened - for every story about Brian Chontosh or Tal Afar - which did).

Answer, in Olberman's book: when you belong to the wrong party, or perhaps when you have served in the military, as Rumsfeld has. Evidently once you accept a government paycheck you forfeit those all-important 1st Amendment rights.

Have you ever noticed how those champions of free speech - the media - just can't wait to silence, 'demonize', and marginalize the incorrect thoughts of anyone they disagree with?

Because I have.

Pile On® said...

Damn it Cassandra, we can't have free speech unless government officials agree with their critics. Anything less is chilling. A chill wind, a cool breeze.

Well at least an icy stare, those will shut you up.

camojack said...

WTF?! Could you possibly have even seen or read a transcript of Rumsfeld's speech?

Rather than relying on the ravings of some partisan hack, I respectfully suggest that you do so...and I don't think I've been overly influenced by being a veteran and a Legionnaire (one of those folks Rumsfeld was addressing), either.

You might find this of interest as well:
"The Defense Department took the unusual step Wednesday of posting a statement saying an Associated Press story had 'seriously mischaracterized' aspects of a speech made Tuesday by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld."

camojack said...

And another thing...

portia said...

If you read R's speech carefully, or here's a thought - just read it - that's precisely what it's all about

Cass, I appreciate you are emotional but I'll ask that we have this discussion as we would if we were debating it across a dinner table rather than a computer screen and skip the condescending remarks that serve only to belittle and do nothing to further the issue at hand. By now you know my style well enough that I would not post a rebuke if I had not read the underlying statement.

I promise to respond later in between that other thing I do during the day (work). In the meantime, pile on:) You too, Pile on.

spd rdr said...

Hoo boy.
I think I'll work on my timesheets today.

Cassandra said...

By now you know my style well enough that I would not post a rebuke if I had not read the underlying statement.

No, I don't. You don't write a lot, Portia, on politics. And so I do not have much history to go on, do I? And since I do not have time to read every speech made by every public servant, and frankly you did not link to it, I had no real reason to think you'd read it.

I paid you the compliment (in my mind at least) of assuming you would not have linked to Olbermann's screed if you'd read the speech because I think you are an honest person and it was inconceivable after reading that speech that we were talking about the same words. Apparently I was wrong - not about your honesty, but about your having read the speech.

I did not intend to insult, nor condescend to you, and I apologize. And I may be emotional (though my comment said the words I deleted were emotional, indicating that I stopped and somehow managed to regain control over my runaway emotions, contrary to your rather condescending insinuation, but I try not to be unreasonable.

Reasonable people may, of course, differ on this point. I merely assumed you would behave the same way I do. If that was insulting... well, I don't really know what to say to that.

Again, my apologies. I did not ream you out, I did not directly challenge or insult you, I didn't even link back to this piece.

I merely stated my opinion, which disagrees with yours. I thought two bloggers could write about the subject without getting their feathers ruffled and bent over backwards not to be confrontational about it. I am sorry if that offended you. That was not my intent.

portia said...

And I merely suggesting that we not veer off course. You and I have gone a few rounds over political issues before; we have a collegial exchange until the sarcasm pen sharpens and the next thing I know we are discussing my "venal motives." More fun for sure but best saved for another forum:)

portia said...

Frankly, guys, I'm not sure how else to interpret Rumsfeld's words other than as Mr. Olberman has concluded. And when Cheney follows up with a one-two the same day day sating those who criticize the war on Iraq are attempting to appease terrorists. Well color me confused.

Because if Rumsfeld's comment that:
"any kind of moral or intellectual confusion about who or what is right or wrong can weaken the ability of free societies to persevere. Our enemies know this well" is not directed at me and my Bush-flogging cronies who is he talking to? The Bush twins? [joke]

from my perch, the Administration's "message" to the American public is pretty darn clear: You're either with us or against, and if you're against us you "are encouraging Al Qaeda types" like those folks in CT who "rejected Mr. Lieberman." (another Cheney quote) Subtle? Not to me, and I trust not to Republican base to whom this new PR campaign is intended.

It's an 11th hour attempt in a losing PR battle to link the war on terror with the war in Iraq (again), and thus divert attention from questions about the failures in Iraq. Or as Olbermann aptly puts it:

to question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes

No doubt, the latest attempt to resell the war in iraq by "dusting off" antique images of Nazis and Italian fascists will resonate among the WWII vets, and politicians, but I'm afraid this too will fail, as more and more Americans connect the dots; as more and more Bush supporters become former Bush supporters.

The regrettable aspect of these many attempts to rebrand/resell the war in Iraq is that they serve only to distract us (the American public) from the real fight against those who are planning to attack us again on our soil:

The young Muslim men who believe that martydom on behalf of Allah is far more important than victory on the field.

This is not my father's war.

spd rdr said...

Fine, then, Portia. What do the Dems say they plan to do about the very threat of which you speak? Let's check:
Senator Kennedy?
"Secretary Rumsfeld is the last person who should preach the lessons of history after ignoring them for the last six years," Kennedy said in a statement. "As a result of his failures, Americans are less safe."

Okay, there's a plan. Senator Reid?

"Secretary Rumsfeld's reckless comments show why America is not as safe as it can or should be five years after 9/11," Reid said. "If there's one person who has failed to learn the lessons of history, it's Donald Rumsfeld."

Uh huh. Okay how about Ms. Pelosi?

"Secretary Rumsfeld's efforts to smear critics of the Bush Administration's Iraq policy are a pathetic attempt to shift the public's attention from his repeated failure to manage the conduct of the war competently," said Pelosi.

Hmmm. I detect a pattern here.

Senator Kerry, you once *cough* aspired to the Oval Office, surely you've got something in the way of a plan to solve the situation in Iraq that will support the troops, without supporting the war, and at the same time satisfying America's dependency on foreign oil and its support of Israel's right to exist while shoring-up the rapidly-collapsing western alliance and trying to keep America safe from fanatical young [possibly offensive religious affiliation deleted] men, and preventing rougue nations from obtaining nuclear weapons, the avowed purpose of which is to KILL US.

"Ned Lamont has had the courage to stand up to George Bush and make this cause a central part of his campaign. That’s why Connecticut Democrats chose him over Joe Lieberman. Mr. Lamont will be tough and smart about our national security. He’s boldly stepped forward to demand a winning strategy from Washington and he has put forward concrete ideas. Mr. Lamont vigorously supported the war in Afghanistan and will help restore America’s focus on destroying Osama bin Laden and the enemies who actually attacked us on 9/11. He won’t stand by and allow Afghanistan to continue to descend back into chaos. He’ll fight for increased funding to protect our ports that have been left vulnerable and he’ll fight to restore the cuts to the veterans’ budget for our heroes coming home from Iraq. In fact, continuing the current course is a grave threat to our security and we’ll be stronger with Ned Lamont in the Senate."

I'm feeling so much safer now.

Dr. Kevorkian, we3 are ready for our close-up.

spd rdr said...

How did we ever come to this.

Pooke said...

I just want to see Spd's time sheet:

8:00 am - 9:00 am: Hung by the water cooler discussing what a dick Keith Olberman is.

9:00am - 10:30: Read Scrappleface, LGF, Right Wing News, Ace and VC.

10:30 - 11:00: Drafted an amicus curiae on behalf of Rumsfeld in the Hamdan case.

11:00 - 1:30: Martini lunch

1:30 - 2:00: re-read Olberman's piece. Confirmed he is a dick.

2:00 - 3:00: Visited Heigh-Ho. Ran Away from duties as the Jello-fight referee.

3:00 - 3:30: Visited the royal throne.

3:30 - 5:00: Paddle-ball, soduku and flicking paper footballs off the desk.

5:00 - 6:00 - Anatomy class. Found out Olberman in fact, is not a dick. Just resembles one on TV.

Pile On® said...

Somebody hep me out here.

Zarqawi's little band of brothers were a self-acknowledged affiliate of Al Qaida. There are shia militias fighting US troops in Iraq that are funded and supported with men and IED components by state sponsor of terror Iran.

But somehow suggesting that retreating from fighting these groups is appeasing terrorists is an affront to anti-war type sensibilities.

These same people who are offended often compare Bush to a chimpanze and an historical figure who gassed 6 million jews.

We are talking about war here. If you are going to enter into the arena of big ideas grow a fucking pair of shut up. I don't beleive I have ever heard Bush complain about any of the bullshit that is said about him.

spd rdr said...

Damn, Pooke. I did all of that, and less, in twice the time you've alloted.

Damned rookies.

Pooke said...

Pile - you left out Syria. And Buschhhhh Reichhhhbeing being a draft dodger.

I had the funniest conversation with my SIL over the weekend (vir. anti-Bush) who told me to google "failure".

This is what it turns up: 1. George W. Bush: Married, father to twins, graduated Yale with a bachelors in history, MBA from Harvard, owner of oil and gas business, partner in MLB baseball team, governor of Texas, 2 term president of the US.

Yep. What an abject failure.

She fails to see the irony. Who the hell is the failure? This guy, whether or not you agree with his policies (I don't in a number of cases) still is absolutely HATED by many on the left, mainly anti-war enthusiasts whom, for the most part, (present company excluded), don't have a single clue what this so-far 30 year old conflict means to our civilization as we know it.

Never to answer the question "what if we lose?", but rather to ignore the fact that we can.

Of course, no offense to Portia (who I think is much smarter than I), but I feel your pain, Pile (bites lip ;)

portia said...

Thanks Pooke, no offense taken whatsoever. Bringing reason to this perilous topic doesn't always track intelligence (but don't tell that to Rumsfeld:)

FWIW, I opposed going to war in Iraq but I do not support withdrawal of our troops at this point, partly because I do ask the question "what if we lose" and because I hold to the Powell Doctrine--we broke it, we bought it. I think we owe it to the Iraqis to stay until we can figure out how to extract ourselves-- from the middle of an 8,000 year turf battle with three warring tribes intent on killing each other to determine who loves Allah more--without leaving them or us any more vulnerable.

However, I am not supporting our presence in Iraq because I think the war in Iraq is making us any safer, or that I accept Bush claims because "we're fighting them over there, we're any safer over here."

The foiled terrorist attempts to kill Americans--mostly recently in London-- underscores the fact that our presence in Iraq has done precious little to undue the dynamics of young muslim men who want to kill us. The people who want to incinerate large numbers of Americans on our soil are not in Iraq.

Nor do I find comfort in the fact that we haven't been struck since 9/11. It took eight full years between the first WTC attack, and the second for Bin Laden to hit us again. If history is any guage, we're just past the half way mark, maybe not. These bastards have a "timeclock" all their own.

Look, I realize that I'm in the minority here, and that most of you probably think that I am "morally confused" (joke:)) Hell, after dozens of hours debating this topic with spd, he probably would say the same but for the fact that he knows me and how passionately I care about this issue. Dont'cha spd? spd? *echo*

I live in NYC. My office was three blocks from the WTC when it was hit. Like too many of us I had acquaintances who perished also. I struggle mightily trying to reconcile the fact that we are spending $1.9 billion a WEEK to protect Iraq's homeland yet we are told again and again we don't have enough $$ to protect our homeland. But on my mother's grave, if I thought Bush's efforts in Iraq would make the world--heck, make me safer--I wouldn't care if he was chimp. I'd be standing at attention, ready to kiss his hairy butt.

Regrettably though, this administration has done little to make me believe that its policies are working. We find ourselves in an ill-conceived war that has been badly managed, fraught with missteps, poor estimations and a shockingly naive understanding of the region in which we are fighting. [For an eye-opener into the imcompetence on display in the run up to the war read the book "Fiasco." spd, you should make it a book club selection.]

Yet despite all those grave "mistakes," I find the biggest and saddest failure in Bush's presidency is not that he chose to invade Iraq (that will be argued for decades to come), it is that he lacked the leadership skills necessary to lead the nation after he did; to manage through adversity, to build a consensus of naysayers, to communicate his vision, to achieve the goals necessary whatever the opposition.

Only so much of his "failure" can be laid at the door step of the MSM or the Bush-hating liberals. Besides, isn't that what leadership is all about...managing through adversity?

Bush's vison of "birthing" democracy in the middle east was grand and bold, and yes even, noble but whether because of arrogance, incompetence, hubris, naivete, stubborness, misjudgments--here and abroad--or his inability to communicate, it's increasingly evident that he was ill-equipped for the task at hand.

Sadly, I fear we will pay the price in the years to come trying to undo the grave mistakes made by this Administration.

Rant over.

Good Lord, I think this comment is longer than all my previous comments combined! Somebody should have cut me off sooner:)

spd rdr said...

Never. This blog permits rants of ever stripe and color. If we didn't disagree sometimes nothing would ever change.

portia said...

Thanks spd. Good answer. Mind if I use that as my "get out of jail free" card next time? Ya know, just in case:)

camojack said...

I don't much care for Rush Limbaugh, but his brother David is another story:
Democrats are furious over Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's speech to the American Legion...
(Portia too, apparently)

portia said...

Furious is too strong a word. Troubled is more like it...troubled too that there are still 66 more days before election day!

FWIW Camo, my beef with Rumsfeld does not extend to his audience of Veterans. I have the utmost respect, and gratitude for them, and their service. And yours:)

camojack said...

Did you read the transcript of what Rumsfeld actually said...or the story about how the Associated Press rewrote it? They're linked in my first comment.

Haven't "seen" you at my blog yet...

portia said...

I did read the transcript, Camo. In fact, after reading a blurb about Rumsfeld's speech in Wednesday morning's WSJ (not the AP version), I took the time to read the entire transcript of his speech before I saw Olbermann deliver his commentary Wednesday night.

Go figure:)