Video: Olbermann: If Obama had campaigned like McCain…

By Keith Olbermann Anchor, 'Countdown'
updated 11/3/2008 9:20:07 PM ET 2008-11-04T02:20:07

I ask you to imagine an alternative universe where the candidates are the same, but what each has said and done, has been reversed.

What would be happening tonight if Sen. Obama had stumbled, over everything from arcane details, to sweeping policies of the utmost importance, and not just once or twice, but endlessly?

What if Sen. Obama couldn't tell Iran from Iraq? Iraq from Afghanistan? Sunni from Shi'a? Somalia from Sudan?

What if Sen. Obama had gotten up before a crowd and started off by saying

OBAMA:You know, I think you may have noticed that Sen. McCain's supporters have been saying some pretty nasty things about Western Pennsylvania lately.

And who finished by saying,

OBAMA: I could not agree more. I could not disagree with him more. But I could not agree more with the explanation Sen. McCain offered a few weeks ago.

What would we be asking ourselves about his capabilities, if it had been Sen. Obama who had identified Gen. David Petraeus as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? And Vladimir Putin as the President of Germany? And Spain as a country in Latin America?

What if it had been Sen. Obama who not only used his POW experience at every turn, but wrote of giving to his captors, not the names of his fellow servicemen, but of the offensive line of the Green Bay Packers football team, only to, when he spoke in Western Pennsylvania, change the story so that he gave to his captors, the names of the offensive line of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team?

What if it had been Sen. Obama who, out of nowhere, had blurted out an inexplicable, perhaps Freudian, slip, while intending to say "My Fellow Americans?"

OBAMA: To Chairman Dean and the Senior Senator from Illinois Dick Durbin, and to my fellow prisoners I accept your nomination for president of the United States.

And what would be happening tonight in the minds of tens of millions of voters if it had been Sen. Obama who had his people negotiate, behind the scenes and off the record, to force favorable coverage of his campaign at three television networks?

Or if it had been Sen. Obama repeatedly mocking a research study on the DNA of bear until he was suddenly reminded he had voted for it? Or if Sen. Obama had an advisor who claimed that Sen. Obama's work on a sub-committee had led to the invention of the blackberry?

Or if Sen. Obama had tried to get one of the presidential debates postponed or cancelled… and threatened to boycott another one, the Town Hall, because he didn't like the network the moderator worked for, all the while complaining that the other guy wouldn't debate him or agree to ten Town Halls.

What would be happening tonight in the souls of a nation, if after all that, at the first debate, it had been Sen. Obama who would not as much as look at Sen. McCain, and then finally addressed him, at the second one, in a weird and cryptic manner?

OBAMA: If we could have intervened in the Holocaust, who among us would say that we have a moral obligation not to go in? That one.

What would a country heading into the most important vote in its modern history be thinking tonight, if it had been Sen. Obama who viewed a collapsing economy and insisted that if in office, he would fire the head of the SEC (even though a president cannot) and then the next day tried to correct himself by calling on the head of the FEC to resign?

What if it had been Sen. Obama who, on September 24th, had after having insisted that there was little wrong?

OBAMA: The truth is, the fundamentals of the economy are strong. We are just suffering from a mental recession, you nation of whiners.

Where would America's collective head be tonight, if it had been, in the middle of a campaign in part focused on elitism and celebrity and personal wealth, Sen. Obama who couldn't remember, or wouldn't admit, how many houses he owned?

QUESTION: How many houses do you have?
OBAMA: Uh, you know I think that's a good question to address to my staff...ah ah ah, I mean, you'd have to ask my staff.

What if Sen. Obama had deflected all serious questions about the troubled finances of a worried nation, by virtually concocting a preposterous every-man, a fictional character, a plumber without a license, a small businessman who owned no business, an average Joe who had a lawyer, a book agent, a publicist, and maybe a recording contract?

OBAMA: I would love to see the next three weeks devoted to talking about Joe the Plumber who is an American hero.
MCCAIN: No, he's not.
OBAMA: Yes, he is.

What would the national psyche be like tonight if it had been Sen. Obama who had sung a mocking song about "bombing Iran?"

What would be happening if Sen. Obama had accepted the endorsement of Pastor John Hagee, or Pastor Rod Parsley, or had a running mate who attributed their big break in politics to the laying on of hands by a minister who began his career in Kenya by slandering a woman as a "witch" and hounding her out of her home?

What would we be thinking if it had been Sen. Obama who, at a critical moment, exaggerated a public claim about the "suspension" of his campaign, and lied to a national television figure about it? And what if it had been Sen. Obama who had been somehow nominated by his party, months and months ago, even though it had been he who had not reproached the use of the rankest of sexist terms, in public, about Sen. Hillary Clinton?

OBAMA: Let's go to this lady here.
LADY: How do we beat the bitch? 
That's why i have that stick!

We all know exactly what would be happening tonight if Sen. Obama had made all those mistakes, contradictions, gaffes, Freudian slips, and hypocritical pronouncements. He would have long since ceased to be taken seriously by any measurable part of the voting public, as a viable, responsible, self-aware, mentally vigorous, non-dangerous, non-risk.

We'd all be going home to our beds well before midnight tomorrow night. But while all that is hypothetical, this is not: This cascade of incompetence and irresponsibility I have enumerated tonight, all the sound bites, all the foot-in-mouth moments, all the no-brainers-gone-wrong - all these, John McCain has said.

No hyperbole and no hypotheses are required. This is who John McCain has showed us he is.

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