Keith Olberman delivered quite a commentary yesterday. TRex posted a YouTube last night and Crooks and Liars has the video (which might be easier on the dial up folks), and it is well worth a watch (more than one, actually). After watching the video, it’s worth a read. Yes, it was that good. Here, let me show you why:
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….
A person is President of the United States for a mere four or eight years (depending). When you think about it, that’s a fairly fleeting period of time, in the grand scheme of history. But the amount of damage that a person and their Administration may do while holding this very powerful office is immeasureable. Which is precisely why the Founders set up of a system of checks and balances to ensure that the President would never rule this nation by fiat is key, because we are to be a nation run by elected citizen representatives, not a nation of kings.
The people who hold elected office are human beings, prone to making mistakes just like everyone else. They are not kings to be revered and never questioned — that has NEVER been our history in this country. This is especially true when our nation faces a number of threats and difficult decisions — because making errors under those conditions is more than costly, it can be deadly.
Just ask all the folks who are still dealing with the aftermath of errors from Katrina, or who have family stationed in Iraq at the moment about how all those errors, especially compounded without oversight and a change of course to something better, can add up to one big mess.
That Keith Olberman felt that he had to remind Donald Rumsfeld, the Bush Administration, and a number of his viewership is telling — about the times in which we live, and about the atmosphere that has purposely been created as a PR environment for a President who is constantly campaigning and rarely, if ever, actually governing. That he is helped along in this endeavor by the do-nothing Republican-controlled Rubber Stamp Congress is bad enough — but that this has been done for a fleeting grab at Republican power for the party and for their cronies is disgusting.
If you have not watched Good Night and Good Luck, it is well worth a rental, especially for the context of the times in which Murrow was speaking, and the courage it took for him to do so. Keith Olberman quoted Edward R. Murrow last night, and it is worth repeating:
“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,” he said, in 1954. “We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.
“We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular.”
The things that are most valuable to us are most often the things for which we have to work the hardest. Democracy is never a given — it must be fought for every single day by every one of us — a republic, if we can keep it. As voting citizens, it is our solemn duty to hold to account each and every elected representative to the principles of our republic.
For liberty. For our nation of laws and not men. For all of the men and women who gave their lives through the years for freedom, for justice, for America. As a nation, we have not always lived up to these ideals, but that does not mean that we should stop working toward them — it should only redouble our resolve to ensure that those persons we elect to uphold these principles believe in them all the stronger.
Each election gives us an opportunity to hold their feet to the fires of liberty. Had enough?
(Please send Keith Olberman a note of thanks here: KOlbermann@msnbc.com)