Monday, September 11, 2006

Keith Olbermann on 9/11

Keith Olbermann is becoming one of the country's most eloquent voices. He has some thoughts on the 9/11 anniversary. You can read his comments in full, but the words and images carry more impact if you watch the video (requires Explorer 6).

Here is some of the text:
And anyone who claims that I and others like me are "soft,"or have "forgotten" the lessons of what happened here is at best a grasping, opportunistic, dilettante and at worst, an idiot whether he is a commentator, or a Vice President, or a President.

However, of all the things those of us who were here five years ago could have forecast -- of all the nightmares that unfolded before our eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds -- none of us could have predicted this.

Five years later this space is still empty.

Five years later there is no memorial to the dead.

Five years later there is no building rising to show with proud defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us, by cowards and criminals.

Five years later this country's wound is still open.

Five years later this country's mass grave is still unmarked.

Five years later this is still just a background for a photo-op.

It is beyond shameful.

At the dedication of the Gettysburg Memorial -- barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field -- Mr. Lincoln said, "we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Lincoln used those words to immortalize their sacrifice.

Today our leaders could use those same words to rationalize their reprehensible inaction. "We cannot dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground." So we won't.

Instead they bicker and buck pass. They thwart private efforts, and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere. They spend the money on irrelevant wars, and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing instead of doing any job at all.

Five years later, Mr. Bush, we are still fighting the terrorists on these streets. And look carefully, sir, on these 16 empty acres. The terrorists are clearly, still winning.

And, in a crime against every victim here and every patriotic sentiment you mouthed but did not enact, you have done nothing about it.

And there is something worse still than this vast gaping hole in this city, and in the fabric of our nation. There is its symbolism of the promise unfulfilled, the urgent oath, reduced to lazy execution.

The only positive on 9/11 and the days and weeks that so slowly and painfully followed it was the unanimous humanity, here, and throughout the country. The government, the President in particular, was given every possible measure of support.

Those who did not belong to his party -- tabled that.

Those who doubted the mechanics of his election -- ignored that.

Those who wondered of his qualifications -- forgot that.

History teaches us that nearly unanimous support of a government cannot be taken away from that government by its critics. It can only be squandered by those who use it not to heal a nation's wounds, but to take political advantage.

Terrorists did not come and steal our newly-regained sense of being American first, and political, fiftieth. Nor did the Democrats. Nor did the media. Nor did the people.

The President -- and those around him -- did that.


Zen Unbound said...

I am a fan of Keith Olbermann, but he has his weaknesses, making him somewhat like Michael Moore.

I respect the passion and poetry Olbermann brings to his words, but it seems absurd to me that the huge failure and insult that we should be exercised about is the construction work and memorial in Manhattan. THAT's the problem!? THAT's the big item that will make Bush the worst president in history?

The Vietnam war memorial took decades to build.

No one has forgotten the events of 9/11 in the last five years. There simply is no great hurry. A memorial is certain to be built long before memories start to fade.

I am sure it is a blight and slows the economy in New York, but 'the hole in the heart of the city' is very much apart from the threats to the national security. And I don't think that Manhattan construction should be that high on Bush's to-do list, simply because it should be the worry of others.

To my mind, Olbermann is classic mean-green with his unfortunate words.

Pissed Off Old Man said...

Zen "All bound up"

Clare Graves's work was designed to label types of thinking and not the thinker .

There is a lack of ethics , spirit and integrity on both sides of politics that is perfectly illustrated by your comment.


Pissed Off Old Man said...

Keith Olberman channeling Edward Murrow blasting Rumsfeld's Fascism like Murrow blasted McCarthy

WH said...


I think you missed the point. KO was using the hole in the ground as a metaphor for the complete failure of the Bushites to maintain the cohesive spirit Americans felt after 9/11. The "uniter" had a united nation through no fault of his own, and he has used the situation to create a starkly divided nation. The hole at ground zero is a metaphor for the failure of the Bushites around the 9/11 aftermath and into the war on Iraq.

And really, I've grown weary of the MGM label being equated with all things liberal and/or anti-Bush. I know you have issues with Bush, too, so I'm not sure why would label KO as MGM when he is so clearly not coming from any kind of narcissistic place. The MGM meme was useful for about 10 minutes, but it has become a weapon to beat down any disagreement with conservative thinking in the integral world, so I'm not buying into it anymore.


Zen Unbound said...

Bill, you choose to have an SDi colorbar in your sidebar.

*I* do not use the idea of mean green meme in the way you are accusing others.

As you correctly suggest, I am no fan of Bush or conservatism, but once having escaped being in lockstep with liberalism, you can spot the symptoms of boomeritis.

But be that as it may, Olbermann can be as blindly fixated on his point of view as the conservatives, like O'Reilly and Bush, whom he criticises.

I accept that Olbermann means to use the hole in the ground as a metaphor, but his speech collapses unless he is being truthful, instead of truthy, with his words.

Frankly, I think the great Ken Olbermann has sunk to truthiness in his speech, making a moutain out of a molehill [or, an open pit out of a ditch].

The problem isn't construction in New York City. [There are equivalent or worse problems with the hole in Boston, the Sacramento levees and railyard and the devastation in New Orleans.] The problem isn't Bush maintaining cohesion in the American spirit; it is a grand, tragic policy fiasco.

Bush may be right -- but for the wrong reasons -- in saying his detractors suffer from "moral or intellectual confusion." There is this crazy desire to re-write the history of the run-up to the Iraq War; to try to make Bush purely evil such that opposing him is a crusade. His detractors end up in a morass of confusion, much like the Bush presidency and its need to justify its actions rather than be open to and guided by truth and objective intelligence.

When Lincoln went to Gettysburg or Clinton to Oklahoma City THOSE where photo ops, too -- in the sense of going to the scene and being seen. We cannot distinguish a president going to the site of a tragedy and a president seeking to score a political point, anymore. This is a collapse of democracy that goes far beyond the unethical machinations of Rove; this infects the media, which sees every action of a politician as seeking political advantage. We have had a craven democracy in America that precedes Bush, and a breakdown in media responsibility that blows with the winds of who's popular.

IMHO, where Olbermann gets things most wrong is in assuming Machiavellian intent as the root of the Bush catastrophe when the root truly is a vast unglamourous incompetence.

WH said...

Hi Tom,

Yes, I do have the color bar on the side to aid those who know nothing of Spiral Dynamics in reading this blog. Maybe I should delete it since I tend not to use the colors anymore.

I don't think you use the MGM in the way I mention -- didn't mean to imply otherwise.

I do agree with you that Bush is largely incompitent, and that much of what KO was on about is essentially the usual mess of red tape that signifies our government's impotence. But I also agree with KO that Rove/Cheney have used Bush as a puppet to promote their agendas. And that is sinister, sometimes bordering on impeachable.

So, yes, I think you are right -- but I think KO is also partially right.