Friday, November 03, 2006

The Left's Limbaugh

A surprising number of people have sent me links to this Keith Olbermann commentary that is one part defense of John Kerry and four parts skewering of President Bush. I suppose the fascination with this video is Olbermann’s seething outrage and rhetorical gymnastics. No one who sent this to me quite knew what to make of it, but they all kind of wanted to like it.

I will say up front that I don’t like Olbermann, just as I don’t like Bill O’Reilly or Rush Limbaugh (Olbermann's inverted doppelgangers on the right). At their best, they are harmless windbags, but at their worst they are the band leaders of partisan spite and anger. These newsmen/pundits are the manufacturers of outrage, the knives dividing America.

This commentary by Olbermann, which has a few good points, is rotten at its core. In about eleven minutes of commentary, Olbermann manages to touch upon every failing of the Bush administration and make them sound like a coordinated, well-executed attempt to destroy the Republic. He speaks quickly and plays loose with logic. In the moment, it all sounds splendidly rousing—as if it someone is finally putting into words all that is bothersome with the Bush presidency.

But the speech is ultimately hollow, hung upon careless hyperbole and overwrought angst. It is, like so much of what these newsmen/pundits say, fast food oratory—tasty but unfilling and unhealthy to ingest. Because, really, Olbermann doesn’t have a point outside of the basic “Bush is a lying incompetent” refrain repeated ad nauseam by his critics. The rest is window dressing meant to incite rather than inform.

And that’s the problem. Olbermann incites and then signs off, leaving sympathetic listeners filled with outrage but possessing no outlet. He doesn’t ask anything of his viewers except for them to be angry. And where does this anger go? Hard to know. But it is rare that anger is well-focused. And rarer still that it helps heal rifts or solve problems.

I’m sure there are those who are glad Olbermann is around—he really is the first leftwinger who can match the oratorical skills of the Limbaugh’s and O’Reilly’s. But he also matches their self-indulgence, their hubris, their false outrage and their divisiveness. Americans listen to these guys because they appear to be speaking a beautiful truth. But they are merely modern day sirens luring us onto the rocks.

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Blogger reader_iam said...

Well done. Linked.

7:08 PM  
Blogger M. Takhallus. said...

We've had at least a decade now of Limbaugh, O'Reilly and Hannity. Now the other team sends Olbermann out onto the field. I don't like the game, either, but we spend half our time bitching that Dems won't fight back and when they do we bitch that they're behaving like Republicans.

Olbermann is the antidote to the disease. Like many antidotes he's toxic in his own right. But necessary.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

I think this video does a better job of nailing the point. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) makes an incredible admission: "A fundamental premise of politics is: We can make this work if people just never figure it out."

See video where Armey says of the attacks on Kerry's remarks, "Well, it's pretty standard fare in political discourse. You misconstrue what somebody said. You isolate a statement, you lend your interpretation to it and then feign moral outrage." This video counters the mainstream media's spin, they omitted the context of Kerry's remarks and allowed Bush to exploit the troops.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

M. Tak,

Not the antidote. Same poison, different vein.

7:14 PM  

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