Lesser among the unfortunate results of the rise of the Fox News/talk-radio complex of Republican media emplacements (as I write Fox succeeds at terrifying me with its weekend war propaganda, Iran, The Ticking Bomb, though it's the spectacle of power's hand so carelessly, almost contemptuously, disguised, and not wily Persians, alarming me), is that it necessitates its corrective counter-spawn, Keith Olbermann. And make no mistake. We need Keith Olbermann. It is as dire as that.
Last Friday Olbermann's Countdown newscast led with a report on a fine essay by Andrew Bacevich in the upcoming American Conservative, and an accompanying provocative cover, critical of General Petraus. The contents of Bacevich's article, the facts of General Petraus' alliance with the Administration, and the diversionary purpose behind the phony outrage over criticism of Petraus (this canard would be denounced, and perpetuated) went unmentioned.
The news item, such as it was, took the form of Olbermann challenging the Republican Party to repudiate the American Conservative for this supposed offense to Petraus, consistent with criticism of MoveOn's "Betray-us" ad. Olbermann condemned Republican hypocrisy, presumably because the magazine is one of their own. Olbermann evinced (or affected) an unlikely ignorance of the vast gulf between current Republican Party leadership and the American Conservatives' valiant insurgency, deliberately encouraging the misunderstanding that the magazine and such Republican boosters as Rush Limbaugh are intellectual and political kin. Similar to the neocon's creative categorization of Shi'ite Hezbollah along with Sunni Al Qaeda.
What Olbermann, in his haste to engage his adversaries on their terms (terms, as far as I can tell, delineating a contest of public professions of sentiment and gaffe-exploitation/evasion), did not take the time to mention (or worse, to learn) was that the small but excellent magazine was launched in 2002 in opposition to the war, when Olbermann's own inspired (and invaluable) anti-Bush campaign had yet to launch in response to his being singled out by the Administration for criticism (nothing like a personal insult and professional threat to provoke outrage at a disastrous and criminal war).
The magazine has been attacked by the Republican establishment, long before Olbermann's self-serving sideshow set up camp, and when that establishment was riding high on poll figures, intoxicated on its first taste of blood, and swinging the axe of pre-war hysterics at any who dared raise their voice in dissent, most infamously and embarrassingly in David Frum's "unpatriotic conservatives" record of public dementia preserved in National Review.
Olbermann is either so ill-informed and professionally derelict that the mere presence of the word "Conservative" in the magazine's name leads him to assume it is a Republican Party organ with not so much as a look at the masthead, or he is so corrupted by his zeal to engage in the repulsive vanity warfare that is cable news (sadly, far more likely), that he chose a minor misrepresentation of omission (minor, that is, to the advancement of Keith Olbermann and his pleasure at hearing the lamentations of his enemies' women and children) of the proud publishing record of the American Conservative.
A name made estimable by the heroic and principled stand of the last five years (and individual professional sacrifices by people enduring everything from outright slander to Olbermann's callow, lazy disregard) becomes fodder in an ego-battle between Olbermann and O'Reilly, men wearing pancake make-up and powder. Something is wrong in our time.
But there is a point to the ongoing skirmish between Olbermann and his enemies. The nation is distracted by the battle of personalities (and what sad excuses for personalities are our would-be Olympians), a proxy war sideshow to prevent the emergence of a frank debate about the coming assault on Iran. We're brawling in the stands as the war faction just keeps moving the ball, even with a little help from Hillary (imagine if she was willing to risk the White House using her stature to question the hostilities with Iran--too much to expect in America at the moment, decency will have to wait), tossing her lot in with the Iran-must-be-stopped panic (meanwhile, Olbermann and--perfect!--MoveOn.org pretend not to notice).
Olbermann would spend much of the rest of the broadcast reporting of "racist" remarks made by Bill O'Reilly (Olbermann is keen on uncovering evidence of racism in public speech, and no doubt looks forward to concentrating more on this sort of thing after the war becomes a Democratic property).
Promising more damning and relevant evidence of O'Reilly's racism, he played clips of O'Reilly in an interview making the now familiar verbal contortions of a public figure trying to free himself of the implications of an original impropriety (and even here O'Reilly manages to be thoroughly unsympathetic, and actually entirely in his element, brandishing the greatness of Bill, superior tolerance mode); and my own dull redneck racism renders me embarrassingly incapable of discerning the appalling bigotry that I'm assured is there. The ultimate importance of Bill O'Reilly's private opinion of blacks is likewise lost on me. But it must be, if the nicely dressed people on the television are so concerned.
I flipped next door to find O'Reilly making the case for his purity and persecution, in PowerPoint. The accompaniment. Oh for a net of sufficient size to cull the lot of them.