Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Olbermann is Delusional

Keith Olbermann delivered himself of a Special Comment last night that was as thoroughly delusional and incoherent as anything I have ever heard him say. It is redundant to say that Olbermann “doesn’t get it,” because that is almost always the case with him, but this comment contained so much contradiction and delusion that even coming from him it had me staring at the screen in slack-jawed amazement.

First he roundly condemned McChrystal for his violation of a principle of American governance, talking about the revelation of McChrystal’s reported discussion of his superiors as reported in Rolling Stone.

…that the comments are inappropriate and inconsistent with the traditional relationship between military and civilian authority and are thus intolerable. We can honor his service, the way we honor the service of General Curtis LeMay, or the way we honor the service of General Douglas MacArthur, forever blemished, forever compromised, forever instructive that however much credit each heroic soldier deserves, he and his comrades are not the masters of this country, but its employees.

It is the fundamental tenet on which this nation rests; it is what has kept us from any serious dalliance with a militaristic government in all our long history; it is the simple balanced poetry that has saved us from the threat of military overthrow and dictatorship for 234 years, while nearly all the other great nations of the world, from Germany to Japan, have succumbed to it, again and again.

Long-winded and pretentious as it is, it is also very true. He then goes on to say, in a rather incredibe stroke of self-contradiction,

And that is when, Sir, you should take General McChrystal‘s resignation, and fold it up, and put it in your top drawer, and tell him that that is where it will remain, and that as of now you are not accepting it.

Does Olbermann know the actual meanings of the words that he uses in these “Comments,” or does he merely look them up in the thesaurus and throw them in there because they sound good? Does he know the meaning of the word “intolerable?” Having referred to McChrystal’s actions as “intolerable,” he then says that Obama should tolerate them; that he should not accept the general’s resignation. There seemed to be several reasons for this rather bizarre suggestion.

First came the “he‘s not getting out of this morass he helped create.” I think that’s related to Colin Powell’s “Crate and Barrel” thing of “you broke it you own it” or it may be a less noble concept of “you aren’t leaving me stuck with this mess,” but in either case it’s nonsense.

Then there’s the political angle, right up Olbermann’s alley and something that only he, or perhaps Chris Matthews, could come up with,

And then, Sir, you sit back and watch the political world‘s collective jaw drop. This would not be mere contrariness, nor even the satisfying destabilization of the entire political climate, although those would be fun, too.

Oh, sure, watching the abrogation of a fundamental principle of American governance would be “fun.”

Olbermann then spends what seemed like twenty minutes declaiming, in a dazzling non sequitur, that Obama should not fire McChrystal because Bush did fire a lot of generals who disagreed with him. Olbermann fails to note that Bush’s generals did not refer to Bush and his staff as “clowns” and such, they respectfully offered input prior to decisions having been made which Bush did not want to hear. Not quite the same thing as a general who is repeatedly told to quit stating publicly that he disagrees with presidential decisions and refuses to do so.

He then says that by not firing McChrystal, Obama would have him in the palm of his hand; that McChrystal would then become beholden to him in a fashion that would assure future compliance. Not only would he earn McChrystal’s undying loyalty, but the entire military establishment would then see Obama in a new light.

You would be the President who defended General McChrystal after he humiliated himself. You would be the leader sensitive to the military, and its needs, and its failures, and its pressures.

That is utterly delusional. One does not obtain the respect and loyalty of one’s subordinates by allowing those subordinates to openly disrespect you and walk all over you, allowing them to disobey your orders, and then say all is well and we will move forward from here. The problem with McChrystal is not his actions, it is his attitude, and orders may change his actions but they will not change his attitude. And McChrystal didn't "humiliate himself," he disrespected his superiors and dishonored his uniform.

Olbermann then babbled something about “listening to his generals.” I think the gist of it was that Obama should not fire McChrystal so that he would be listening to his generals because Bush listened to his generals, but that is sort of in conflict with his earlier thing about how he should not do what Bush did do. I was having trouble keeping up with him by the time we got to this point, partly because he’d been abusing the thesaurus too much.

Finally there was the inevitable thing about President Lincoln; in this case about Lincoln appointing a general who was a liar and a braggart. McChrystal is certainly no shrinking violet, but where did the “liar” thing come from? If he's intimating that the Lincoln principle of "I need capable generals, not polite generals" applies, that is rather at odds with his earlier, “he‘s not getting out of this morass he helped create.”

1 comment:

  1. bruce9:06 AM

    Yeah, that has pretty much been established.

    The interesting thing is, why does Jayhawk threaten his heath by still listening to him? Blog fodder, no doubt...