August 17, 2008

Keith Olbermann takes on John McCain and his campaign managers with another powerful Special Comment on Monday's Countdown. McCain has consistently voted against our troops, but he and his campaign continue to spread lies and distortions about Barack Obama, painting him as unpatriotic and anti-military, while glossing over his own betrayal of our military on the floor of the Senate.

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Now as promised a Special Comment on the remarks of the Senior Senator from Arizona about Senator Obama at the VFW Convention, and about NBC News and MSNBC.

Four times in just two days, Senator McCain's campaign managers have, simply, hung him out to dry.

First, trying to scapegoat the media, in the exact way that has spelled doom for other presidential candidates already watching from the sidelines.

Second, doing so with a petulant statement so full of holes that it virtually **confirms** that which was reported, and which set off this pointless temper tantrum in the first place.

Third, sending the candidate out to speak before the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, even as the millstones of a series of disastrous, anti-veteran votes, still figuratively dangled from around his neck.

And fourth, encouraging Senator McCain, while there, to address his opponent in the language of unseemly contempt, undignified calumny, and holier-than-thou persiflage unsupported by reality... near-nonsensical bluster that -- at best -- makes the speaker look like a dyspeptic grouchy neighbor shouting "Hey you kids, get out of my yard."

Transcript below the fold.

"Though victory in Iraq is finally in sight," you told the V-F-W today, Senator McCain, "a great deal still depends on the decisions and good judgment of the next president. The hard-won gains of our troops hang in the balance. The lasting advantage of a peaceful and democratic ally in the heart of the Middle East could still be squandered by hasty withdrawal and arbitrary timelines. And this is one of many problems in the shifting positions of my opponent, Senator Obama."

The shifting positions of Senator **Obama**?

Senator McCain -- on the 22nd of May, 2003.. you said, of Iraq, **on** the Senate floor, quote:

"We won a massive victory in a few weeks, and we did so with very limited loss of American and allied lives. We were able to end aggression with minimum overall loss of life, and we were even able to greatly reduce the civilian casualties of Afghani and Iraqi citizens.

Senator -- you declared victory in Iraq, **five years and nearly three months ago**.

**Today** you say: "victory in Iraq is finally in sight"?

The victory you already proclaimed five years ago?

Are we going back in **time** Sir?

If that had not been enough, in **June** of 2003, with even **Fox News** noting "many argue the conflict (in Iraq) isn't over," you answered:

"Well, then why was there a banner that said 'Mission Accomplished' on the aircraft carrier? Look, the -- I have said a long time that reconstruction of Iraq would be a long, long, difficult process, but the conflict -- the major conflict is over, the regime change has been accomplished, and it's very appropriate."

In 2003, your war was won, because somebody was putting up a... banner.

In 2008, your war might finally **be** won, because **you** are putting up... a campaign based on the mirage that Iraq **is** winnable.

And yet it is **Obama** shifting positions on Iraq?

Even if this country were to forget, Senator, the victory lap you and President Bush took five years ago -- just on their face, your remarks today at the V-F-W, Senator, are nonsensical.

"Senator Obama commits the greater error of insisting that even in hindsight, he would oppose the surge. Even in retrospect, he would choose the path of retreat and failure for America over the path of success and victory."

This construction, Senator, is extremely simple.

If your surge worked, the troops would be home from Iraq.

Or **most** of them, would be.

Or all of them who **were** surged, would be.

Or at least we'd have the same number of troops in Iraq now, as we did then.

Or... maybe one or two guys would be out of harm's way.

Please, Senator McCain, stop!

This is **embarrassing**.

Whether on his own impetus or an advisor's...

The Senator also foolishly invoked his **opponent** in that speech today.

Previous political **careers** have foundered on the rocks of the V-F-W Convention:

The Republican majority in Congress and the Senate -- the very viability of Secretary of Defense **Rumsfeld** -- began to unravel at this convention two years ago -- that was the venue for the first of Rumsfeld's two references to Bush critics as Nazi Appeasers.

Prudence and judgement, demanded that Senator McCain tred lightly.

Instead he told the convention, quote:

"I suppose from my opponent's vantage point, veterans concerns are just one more issue to be spun or worked to advantage. This would explain why he has also taken liberties with my position on the GI Bill.... As a political proposition, it would have much easier for me to have just signed on to what I considered flawed legislation. But the people of Arizona, and of all America, expect more from their representatives than that, and instead I sought a better bill. I'm proud to say that the result is a law that better serves our military, better serves military families, and better serves the interests of our country."

Senator McCain spoke out **against** that very bill last May -- on the asinine premise that the rewards to our heroes were so good that it didn't encourage them to stay in the service.

Or perhaps **force** them.

More over, Senator McCain missed 10 of the 14 Senate votes on Iraq up to the middle of last year.

This year, he has missed them **all** -- including one to honor the sacrifice of the fallen.

He has voted to table or oppose:

20 million dollars for veteran's health care facilities.

322 million dollars for safety equipment for our troops in Iraq.

430 million dollars for veterans outpatient care.

One billion dollars in new equipment for the National Guard.

And, in separate votes: One billion, 500 million dollars in additional Veterans' medical care, to be created by closing tax loopholes.

And one billion, **800** million dollars in additional Veterans' medical care, to be created by closing tax loopholes.

And yet, Sir, you have the audacity to stand in front of the very Veterans you repeatedly and consistently **sell out**, and claim it is your **opponent** who has put politics first, and country second.

"Behind all of these claims and positions by Senator Obama lies the ambition to be president," you said -- with a straight face -- today. "What's less apparent is the judgment to be commander in chief. And in matters of national security, good judgment will be at a premium in the term of the next president -- as we were all reminded ten days ago by events in the nation of Georgia."

Senator, three points:

One -- is your increasingly extremist and reactionary language towards Senator Obama **really** the method by which you want to try to achieve the Presidency -- or perhaps split the country if you succeed?

Two -- criticizing a man for having quote "the ambition to be president"? Seriously? You **do** realize you are **currently** running for president, as well, right? That either you also have "ambition to be president" or, what?, somebody's **blackmailing** you into it?

And three -- you might want to ask somebody -- somebody other than say, your Foreign Policy Advisor, Randy Scheunemann -- whether or not you are making a jackass out of yourself every time you bring up the conflict between Georgia and Russia.

The Georgians have paid Mr. Scheunemann and his companies 800-thousand dollars over the last several years to **lobby** for them.

It's pretty clear the Georgians have **bought** Mr. Scheunemann.

And, Senator McCain, it sure as hell looks like the Georgians thought they had bought **you**.

When you had the tastelessness to paraphrase the rallying cry of 9/11 and say that we are now all Georgians, that nation's President **called you out**...

He said that your words were very nice, but he needed action -- not a verbal receipt from a lobbyist and his pet Senator!

Going back to the beginning of this sad 48 hours of paranoia from the McCain Campaign...

We have manager Rick Davis's unfortunate letter to NBC News, about Andrea Mitchell's reporting on the possibility that Senator McCain violated the so-called "Cone of Silence" for the Rick Warren Presidential Forum over the weekend.

The coverage of this detail, and that forum in general, is, to start with, overwrought.

But Mr. Davis has elevated them to the ridiculous.

As Nate Silver at the website 'Five-Thirty-Eight-dot-com' noted, Andrea's reporting -- reporting of what the Obama camp claimed -- included two essential observations:

"McCain may not have been in the cone of silence"... and that he

"May have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama".

Rick Davis writes to NBC: "The fact is that during Senator Obama's segment at Saddleback last night, Senator McCain was in a motorcade to the event and then held in a green room with no broadcast feed."

As Silver astutely notes, for roughly the first half of Obama's participation, his own campaign manager places McCain in a **car** -- where he could have been made aware of the questions to Senator Obama. "In a motor vehicle," Silver writes, "one may use the radio, a cellphone, a Blackberry, Bluetooth Wireless, a Slingbox, and perhaps a satellite TV feed. Whether McCain actually used any of those devices, we have no idea. But he absolutely had the ability to use them, which is all that Mitchell had reported."

Silver also tripped over Mr. Davis's strange observation that for roughly the second half of Obama's participation, his own campaign places McCain, quote, "in a green room with no broadcast feed."

Not a green room without cell service or internet, nor without a closed-circuit feed, nor, for that matter, without a guy running back from the audience with notes, written in crayon.

Rick Davis's argument is, in short, illegitimate.

It is an attempt to pick a fight with the media, over the journalistic equivalent of chewing gum in class.

"This is irresponsible journalism and sadly, indicative of the level of objectivity we have witnessed at NBC News this election cycle," he writes.

"We are concerned that your News Division is following MSNBC's lead in abandoning non-partisan coverage of the Presidential race. We would like to request a meeting with you as soon as possible to discuss our deep concerns about the news standards and level of objectivity at NBC."

What Davis is **really** saying here, of course, is that he wants **no** level of objectivity, that the only campaign he wants questioned is Obama, and that "partisan coverage" consists of questioning whether McCain or his campaign support the stage whispers branding Obama as somehow 'foreign,' or whether McCain is to be inoculated from all criticism by dint of his military service.

Senator McCain -- did you pay **any** attention to the **Democratic** primaries?

Did you notice the hair-pulling frenzy of some of Senator Clinton's supporters who could not face the possibility that her loss might have been **her** fault -- or **theirs** -- and thus it must be **ours**?

Do you remember the apoplexy of a washed up Republican operative named Ed Gillespie, writing a furious letter to NBC on behalf of President Bush?

Mr. Bush's support has since dropped.

And **Senator Clinton's** supporters have now relocated to such a degree that her "eighteen million voices" first re-counted themselves as "two million" and were then unable to get even 250 people to show up at a meeting.

The public sees through this nonsense, Senator -- they see through it quickly.

NBC and MSNBC do not have the power to seriously impact an election.

If we **did** -- Senator Pat Buchanan would already be serving **with** you.

Besides which, Senator, who in your camp thought it was a good idea to take a shot at NBC and MSNBC... **during the Olympics **on** NBC and MSNBC?!?

**During** the Olympics, Senator McCain, on which you have already run millions of dollars' worth of McCain Campaign **commercials**... on NBC and MSNBC!?!

Senator, let me wrap this up.

You -- and your campaign -- need a serious and immediate attitude adjustment.

Despite what you may think, Senator McCain, this is not a coronation.

Despite how you have acted, Senator McCain, you have no automatic excuse to politicize anything you want.

Despite how you have whined, Senator McCain, you have no entitlement to only sycophantic, deceptive, **air-brushed** coverage in the media.

And despite how you have strutted, Senator McCain, you have no God-given right to the Presidency.

Let's have an adult campaign here, in other words -- and I am embarrassed to have to say this to a man who turns 72 at the end of this month -- Senator, grow up!

Good night, and good luck.

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