Returning from extended leave, Wednesday, Keith Olbermann was delivered a Welcome Home gift from the conservative web site Newsmax—a column which all but called for a military coup against Barack Obama.
OLBERMANN: On the heels of a survey posted on Facebook asking should Obama be killed, one right wing columnist has floated the idea of a military coup to unseat the president, as if it were not madness, incitement, un-American, disloyal, totalitarian and treasonous.
"There's a remote, although gaining, possibility America's military will intervene as a last resort to resolve the Obama problem. Don't dismiss it as unrealistic."
… In a column titled "Obama Risks a Domestic Military Intervention," John L. Perry of the website "Newsmax" writes as well: "military intervention is what Obama's exponentially accelerating agenda for fundamental change toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option. But Obama's radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible."
Perry insisting he is only describing what may be afoot, and not actually advocating a military intervention. But then bullet points reasons why the military would stage such a coup, and proposes this twisted fantasy, "imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution" — yes, by overthrowing it-"through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation"-by destroying the nation-"skilled, military trained nation builders would replace accountability challenged radical left commissars."
After scrubbing the column from its website, "Newsmax" now claims Mr. Perry has no official relationship with "Newsmax," other than as unpaid blogger. Curious, considering Mr. Perry's byline at the bottom of his column, John L. Perry is a regular columnist for Newsmax.com. And in case that isn't clear, TPM reports Perry has been a regular columnist for "Newsmax" since 1999…
OLBERMANN TO GUEST CHRIS HAYES: Please tell me that even the "Newsmax" crowd, with its Ann Coulter e-mail alerts and it's ads for free handguns, millionaire patriots and trains you, even these people have to repudiate the premise of a military overthrow of a United States government.
HAYES: Yes, I think if there's a silver lining in this little story, it's the fact that they did take it down from the website. Maybe there are and it was a bloodless coup. One should know that it was a bloodless coup. It was very gentlemanly, what he proposed. [smirk]
But, no, I think it is a taboo, and rightfully so. This is not the sort of thing that I think should be in the normal course of our political discussions about a path forward, even amongst genuine ideologues. So I think it was actually a good sign they took it down.
Surprisingly, Olbermann and his regular guest Chris Hayes of the Marxist magazine The Nation, were fairly restrained in their comments, (mostly) not taking the opportunity it presented to tar all conservatives with this brush, and even gave Newsmax some back-handed credit for taking the piece by John L. Perry off of their website. (TPM has the column, here.)
In fact, I would argue they gave Newsmax too much credit. There is no statement denouncing the piece to be found on the site, or to be obtained by calling Newsmax's office– which is the minimum requirement if they are going to maintain that they hold to some kind of journalistic standard. When I asked the person who took my call if they were "just going to take it down and pretend it never happened," she chuckled and said, "That's about right." My emailed request for a response or a statement has been ignored for over a day.
Perry's initial response was that he was not calling for a coup, just examining a lurking possibility—and the column is couched as reporting—but that's not a defense. That's worse. It's a slander on the only military in the world that has NEVER turned its guns on its own citizenry. It's a slander generally reserved for liberal novelists and screenwriters and the Seven Days in Mayscenarios that Olbermann and Hayes indulge in toward the end of this segment.
Newsmax is definitely a grab bag of conservative and right wing commentary. I should note that they have done a favorable story or two about me, and published my review of Jamie Glazov'sUnited in Hate. They are the web home of the great Ken Timmerman, one of our best reporters on intelligence matters, and host a blog for the invaluable Frank Gaffney.
However, Newsmax is also probably single-handedly keeping the "birther" farce alive, with staff "reporting" and commentary on the issue, which are sent out to their huge email list. They have a large stable of unpaid columnists and I can see where it would be impossible to edit all of them before they publish. That said, dropping a guy from the site few people have heard of, and who writes nearly unreadable pieces like this, is the least Newsmax can do to a guy who suggested an overthrow of the United States Government might not be such a bad idea.
For once, Olbermann's list of adjectives about someone on the right—"madness, incitement, un-American, disloyal, totalitarian and treasonous" —were about right. This was a real outrage.
On the sillier side, Republicans and commentators gave Keith a chance to be right again (or at least half right) by smacking Obama around—for all the wrong, but probably poll-tested reasons—for heading to Copenhagen to lobby on behalf of the Chicago Olympics effort…
OLBERMANN: In our number one story, the right wing chorus ripping the president for trying to bring the Olympics back to America, it has been joined now by the House minority leader. No Republican seems to remember that the one day this president has devoted to the effort kind of pales in comparison to the four days the last president spent attending the Olympics in China as a freaking fan…President Bush, you'll recall, took in the last Olympic Games in China last year, leaving the country fighting two wars, on the brink of economic collapse. He found time, four days of it, to enjoy the Beijing games and spank the volleyball players.
Still, the outrage that our president would spend less than 24 hours trying to bring the Olympics and an economic boon home to the US has been equally laughable and predictable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GLENN BECK, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: President Obama is heading to Denmark this week to help sway the International Olympic Committee.
Vancouver lost-how much was it? They lost a billion dollars when they had the Olympics. How is the city of Chicago and Illinois, that is broke, going to benefit? (END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The opening ceremonies for the Vancouver Olympics are on February 12th, 2010. They can't have lost or made anything because it hasn't happened yet, Biff.
Actually, only Glenn Beck raised the right point (though he used the wrong verb tense)—to question whether the Olympics really are an economic boon. Sports stadiums are a loss to cities who fund them, and are only an economic benefit when they are privately built. What is the plan for Chicago? Salt Lake City was nearly an economic disaster before Mitt Romney saved the day. My guess is Mitt wouldn't have been asked to run the Chicago games…
OLBERMANN: Then there are the official Republican mouthpieces. Michael Steele, in a conference call with reporters yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: The goal should be creating, you know, not job opportunities seven years from now, but job opportunities today. If the priority is the Olympics in seven years, OK, then tell the nation that's the priority and that's what we should be focused on, because we'll create jobs then, and we won't worry about it between now and 2016. (END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: See, you have jobs now building stuff for seven years from now. They don't put up the Olympics facilities over night like a circus tent. And this morning, House Minority Leader Boehner picked up on the anti-Olympic stupidity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, MINORITY LEADER: He's the president of the United States, not the mayor of Chicago. And the problems we have here at home affect all Americans. And that's where his attention ought to be. (END VIDEO CLIP)
DOH! Olbermann unconsciously made Glenn Beck's point by pointing out that expenditures come well before the event. Olbermann then hosted Robert B. Reich, the "economist" who recently said the problem is that the federal government isn't spending enough, in a discussion that treated as fact the idea that the Olympics are always a major economic plus for the host country.
But neither Michael Steele nor John Boehner made that point. Instead, they chose to make it look like the Republican Party is also verging on Obama Derangement Syndrome. Is it possible for John Boehner, and Michael Steele to pick a dumber issue than criticizing Obama over the lobbying to get Chicago the Olympics? Do they think no one in America has seen Air Force One? That we don't know the President is never away from work?
This criticism is doubly counterproductive because it implies that the President's attention to economic matters is actually a good thing, that he does valuable work on the economy when he's here. Hey, if Barack Obama is out of town trying to bring jobs to the Midwest, he's not giving speeches that make the market drop 100 points, twisting arms for socialized medicine, or trying to cripple our energy industry.
Having Barack Obama distracted from the economy is a good thing.
If the Republicans had the good sense, like Rush Limbaugh today, to wait until the President failed in his over-personalized bid to obtain the Olympics, rather than taking cheap shot non-sequiturs ahead of time, there were points to be scored.
The Republicans should have wished the President well in his bid to bring a great event to the United States. Then they could have given Obama the blasting he deserves today for making the rotten point in Denmark that the Olympic Committee should reward the United States for electing him, and send the signal that the hatred America deserved from the world community the last 8 years is over.
More importantly, Obama's bungling by making it all about him, and his putting the prestige of the Presidency on the line without any expectation of success on the eve of important negotiations about Iran's nuclear program, would have had real bite.
Instead, it now looks like Republicans were rooting for their President to fail while he went overseas trying to do something good for his country. The Republican leadership in the House of Representatives has rarely missed a chance to miss a chance over the last decade or so. Their record continues.
On a side note: Keith Olbermann explained his recent absences from Countdown thusly: "First, briefly, a note about my attendance record here, which has been lately, anyway, pretty spotty. I mentioned a couple of times on the air here that my father is ill. The last few days have been critical to his recovery and I've been fortunate enough to be with him at the expense of not being able to be here. I expect this will happen again… I don't want to go into too much detail about dad except to say that the most recent news was very encouraging, the people working with him, from the specialists to the nurses to the X-ray techs, have been phenomenal. And later on I intend to give them a fuller thanks."
Keith, do those outstanding medical professionals know your goal is to make them all federal employees?
So, here's a prayer for Keith's dad, and a commendation to him for taking the time to care for him and for having the right priority when it comes to those he loves.
And he can be secure in the knowledge that in his absence, Laurence O'Donnell continues the gratuitous slams of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Michelle Bachmann; while continuing theCountdown echo chamber of The Nation's Chris Hayes, socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (always identified as merely an "Independent"), Senator Jay Rockefeller, Newsweak's Howard Fineman, and the like.
The Meltdown will continue unabated, as long as Republicans and fringe conservatives stick to their principles and do not succumb to mere Obama Derangement Syndrome.