Video: Olbermann: Gibbs frustration understandable but misguided

By Keith Olbermann Anchor, 'Countdown'
msnbc.com
updated 8/10/2010 8:27:30 PM ET 2010-08-11T00:27:30
SPECIAL COMMENT

And now a Special Comment from what I suppose is the Professional Left. It is hard to say for sure. Mr. Gibbs referenced watching too much cable. I'm on cable. I suppose I'm part of the problem from his perspective. In any event this will serve to both give a little background, and to correct a fundamental flaw in the viewpoint of the White House.

The heart of this, I think, is the fact that this administration is still amazed that each day does not begin with a round of applause for its intervention on the economy. Of the first five accomplishments Mr. Gibbs listed in his walkback this afternoon, three were variations of, in essence, "we prevented a depression." His frustration is entirely understandable.

It's not just that what the Administration did has been morphed by the far right into an insurrectionist attempt to install Barack Obama as the teller in your bank, the tax-collector at your door, the pick-pocket at your wallet. It's also not just that a full appreciation of what the President has done requires the proving of a negative — you know, "see this alternate universe over here in which we have 19 percent unemployment and the entire auto industry collapsed under President McCain?"

It's that the last President was completely lionized — his eight-year scamming of America — was swallowed whole because he somehow proved a negative, every day, this nonsense that he and he alone had prevented another terrorist attack.

One President prevents a financial meltdown, gets tepid thanks. The other President doesn't prevent a terrorist attack, gets worship and blind allegiance because he didn't allow another one.

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Whatever the dark lesson in that sick truth, however — the frustration over it should not be directed at the Professional Left. The Professional Right is far more deserving.

It is profound and noble to see this President take so seriously the premise that he is just as much "President Of People Who Didn't Vote For Him," as of "People Who Did." But this is ridiculous. The President has shown a willingness to give the Professional Right not just "seats at the table" as we try to restore this country to where it was before Bush and Cheney got a hold of it, not just to give it half the seats at the table, but often — far too often —to give it all the seats, the table, and the damn carpet.

The Professional Left didn't start the Health Care Negotiations by moving to the right of the Single Payer and then the Public Option, the Administration did. The Professional Left didn't try to grease some skids with the minority by taxing union benefits, the Administration did.

The Professional Left didn't fire Shirley Sherrod and congratulate itself on quick exaction to avoid a media circus in this environment, the Administration did. The Professional Left didn't begin this presidency by handing everybody who broke the law and subverted the constitution a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free-Card and a virtual set of instructions on how to get away with all of it next time, too, the Administration did.

Mr. President, you will not get disagreement from the Professional Left, that compromise is the essence of practical politics. But you have gotten, you are getting, you always will get, that disagreement from the Professional Right.

They do not want compromise, they want everything— everything from more profits for insurance companies, to you admitting you're not really president, and that you've decided to endorse Tea Party candidates at the mid-terms.

Why on earth do you start every negotiation just left-of-center? Anybody on this planet, haggling, always asks for far more than they expect to get. Start at Single Payer and maybe you get Public Option. Start at Indightments for Torture and maybe you get a Truth And Reconciliation Commission. But I'm veering off fully into policy and straying from your Mr. Gibbs heckling the audience and Mr. Burton saying you agree with him doing so.

Sir. You need to get past the premise that the Left differs from the Right in terms of ideology. In this America, they differ in terms of the hard-wiring of the brain. The Right wants not leadership — it wants lockstep. The Right wants not nuanced thought from its adherents — it wants salutes and sworn fealty. The Right wants not critical analysis from its media — it wants propaganda.

If, Mr. President, you have fallen into the trap of equating "The Professional Left" and "The Professional Right" of the false equivalency of msnbc and Fox News — you are going to spend the rest of the time in the White House curled up in a churlish ball in the corner wondering what happened to your encore.

If indeed I am part of the "Professional Left" I am here to applaud good policy and good leadership and good statesmanship, and to boo bad policy and bad leadership and bad statesmanship. I'm sorry, Sir; I'm sorry, Mr. Gibbs, we are not the Right. We think over here. And we fight  for what we believe in.

And we recognize that the only time you're going to get something out of a Mitch McConnell when he says he has no interest in doing anything left-of-center, is when you drag him in that direction by using a pair of figurative pliers.

I really don't know if I'm part of the Professional Left. I really would rather not be. But the sad truth also is, that these kinds of roles don't tend to be sought or achieved. They tend to fall on you, when others don't do their job. Because if I' the Professional Left, it's only because the White House has been more like the Amateur Left.


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