Olbermann On Moore, Redux

Keith Olbermann disagrees with Michael Moore on the matter of how the problem of Osama bin Laden should have been handled… but he understands the importance of Moore’s questioning of the official government story and the motives of those promoting it:

(ADDED: here is a transcript of Olbermann’s special comment.)

We seem to have reached a point at which criticizing a presidential administration, especially if the critic is well-known, evokes a vituperative response against the critic that is all out of proportion to the alleged “offense” of… well, to put it simply, criticizing a policy.

If effective and constructive inquiry about and criticism of policy can be suppressed or even discouraged by means more typical of dictatorships of a bygone era, the canonical American assertion that participatory self-government is the route to better government and better society is on the verge of being lost to us. I’d like to hope that any presidential administration (other than the former Cheney administration, of course) would see the folly of engaging in such invective.

But I have no confidence that presidents of either major party will eschew that approach. It is a pernicious approach, one that will send us down the very same tubes of history that have swallowed so many other promising nations. And I really regret that.

(H/T MandT for the video. I had noted the text version a couple of days ago when the video had not yet been made, but Olbermann’s prose is always more effective when delivered in Olbermann’s own voice.)

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  • Kay Dennison  On Monday May 16, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    I have to agree with Keith. I learned long ago that the only dumb question is usually the one I forgot to ask — mostly because that’s the one that comes back to bite me in the backside!!!! One of the reason like Michael Moore is because he has the courage to ask the hard/unpopular questions. That said, as a the ex-wife of a sailor, I have it on good authority that questioning the ability of the Seals is neither a good idea or nor necessary and I can’t/won’t say why.

    • Steve  On Tuesday May 17, 2011 at 7:17 am

      And yet, Kay, I don’t see the evidence that Moore actually did that! Please show me where he actually criticized the SEALS. Much like the whole “death panels” phenomenon, the assertion that Moore “dissed” the SEALS appears to be a fabrication. Nine-tenths of our political dialogue these days seems to consist in combating the GOP’s fabrications. (The other tenth is combating Obama’s.)

      Moore asked a number of questions which more journalists (pun intended) should have been asking of the Bush Obama administration, and in apparent payback he was targeted with the journalistic equivalent of a hit. That’s not journalism, and that’s not right.

      Bryan put it succinctly: in both cases, the SEALS were just doing their job. They didn’t make the decision. No one, not Michael Moore, not I, criticized them for that.

      It has to be legitimate for a citizen in a democracy to question a leadership decision openly. Otherwise, all the advantages of free and open debate simply slip away, and pretty soon you don’t have a democracy anymore. What I am questioning in the case of OBL is not the morality of the decision… that’s not my call… but the wisdom and efficacy of it. Ian Welsh says it better than I do.

      UPDATE: here is a post by Michael Moore in which he says this:

      Last week, President Obama fulfilled a campaign promise and killed Osama bin Laden. Well he didn’t actually do the killing himself. It was carried out by a very brave and excellent team of Navy SEALs.

      In the SEALs’ place, I would be very happy to be “dissed” like that!

      • Steve  On Tuesday May 17, 2011 at 8:10 am

        From the same Michael Moore post as linked above:

        Here’s my take: I know a number of Navy SEALs. In fact (and this is something I don’t like to talk about publicly, for all the obvious reasons), I hire only ex-SEALs and ex-Special Forces guys to handle my own security (I’ll let you pause a moment to appreciate that irony). These SEALs are trained to follow orders. I don’t know what their orders were that night in Abbottabad, but it certainly looks like a job (and this is backed up in a piece in the Atlantic) where they were told to not bring bin Laden back alive. The SEALs are pros at what they do and they instantly took out every adult male (every potential threat) within a few minutes – but they also took care to not harm a single one of the nine children who were present. Pretty amazing. This wasn’t some Rambo-style operation where they just went in guns blazing, spraying bullets. They acted swiftly and with expert precision. I’m telling you, these guys are so smart and so lethal, they could take you out with a piece of dental floss. (And in fact, one of my ex-SEAL guys showed me how to do that one night. Whoa.)

        I think I’m going to throw out all the dental floss in the house…

        UPDATE: here are Moore’s (in)famous “tweets”. There’s not the remotest hint of dissing SEALs in them. The whole assertion is pure, steaming BS.

  • MandT  On Tuesday May 17, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    All we did was merely post the KO piece and got blasted….just shows you how crazy even progressives are about addiction to nationalism and regionalism. Thanks for the above. We posted it in our comments section.

    • Steve  On Tuesday May 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm

      MandT – I just posted a reply to Rain on your comment thread, a fairly polite reply by my standards. 🙂 I don’t have a lot of patience with people who make negative assumptions about statements (in this case by Moore) without ever troubling themselves to find the actual statements, especially when they are so readily available. But not everyone is into due diligence…

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