Keith and Eugene Robinson had the same reaction I did to watching members of Congress out there calling for something close to the overthrow of our government. I agree completely with Eugene Robinson—it was frankly appalling.
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
An elected Republican official today is leading a protest on the west steps of the Capitol that compared health care reform to Nazi death camps and encouraged mindless harassment of and possibly violence against the government. Not tea baggers anymore, not demagogic commentators, an actual congresswoman inciting a hateful rebellion against the rule of law and order. Her name is Michele Bachmann.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: As if that were not bad enough, Ms. Bachmann today joined by the House minority leader as well as countless other GOP representatives. This orgy of veiled threat and not so veiled racism of white power minority rule now fully the province of the Republican Party. Welcome to the coup!
Congressman Bachmann staging what she tried to claim was a spontaneous meet-up of opponents to health care reform, in 25 buses paid for by the AstroTurf group Americans for Prosperity, could be considered spontaneous. An estimated 4,000 people today answering Ms. Bachmann‘s call, bringing with them on those buses, not just their misunderstanding of health care reform but also their hatred of President Obama, as well as pure hatred, period.
Lee Fang of ThinkProgress.org taking these photographs of a sign that reads “National Socialist Health Care, Dachau, Germany, 1945,” superimposed over the horrific images of the corpses from Dachau. Other signs are slightly less shameful but many in no way related to health care.
Congresswoman Bachmann urging these people to rebel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACHMANN: It was Thomas Jefferson who said—a revolution every now and then is a good thing. What do you think?
BACHMANN: You feel so good right now, and we, the members of Congress that are gathered on these steps for this press conference, are so honored that you are here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Press conference? The geniuses at the Republican study committee trying to rebrand today‘s event not as a protest, nor a rally, but as a press conference. Urging House staffers in an e-mail last night to please make sure your boss does not turn this event a rally.
Does any of this sound like press conference to you?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL BROUN, GEORGIA: Who will kill this bill? You will! You will! And we must. The Constitution of the United States starts with three very powerful words: “We, the people.” And we the people are speaking. Nancy Pelosi, listen.
Fellow patriots, go tell your congressman you‘re not going to eat this rotten stinking fish that is Pelosi health care! We are going to put a stop sign in front of her steamroller of socialism. Go to it, Patriots!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: That man is a doctor. And someone has an appointment to see him. At least Congressman Broun knows how the Constitution starts. The Republicans‘ top dog can‘t even cite the correct document.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: I‘m going to stand with you and all freedom-loving Americans against this bill. This is my copy of the Constitution. And I‘m going to stand here with our Founding Fathers, who wrote in the preamble, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: If Minority Leader Boehner had read his prop copy of the Constitution, perhaps he‘d know that he was actually quoting the Declaration of Independence—or maybe he thinks that‘s the same thing as the Constitution. Which might explain the Republican health care bill Minority Leader Boehner‘s office having falsely claimed that that bill, once it was finally revealed, would cover millions more Americans than the Democrats‘ bill would. In fact, it would cover fewer millions Americans, making the nation‘s health care crisis that much worse.
The Congressional Budget Office in its analysis of the bill, determining that the Republicans would leave will 52 million Americans uninsured. Right now, there are 46 million in this country without coverage—which means under the Republican plan, 6 million more Americans would become uninsured.
And the GOP‘s bills impact on the deficit? It would be $36 million worse than the impact of the Democratic bill.
Time now to call on our own Eugene Robinson, associate editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of “The Washington Post.”
Gene, good evening.
ROBINSON: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Today, we saw a member of Congress encouraging harassment of the government, fomenting—her word was revolution. And her behavior was sanctioned by her colleagues, the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives. And I recall that during the previous administration, if you disagreed with policy and just said it, let alone staged some sort of protest with banners and references to the Second World War, you immediately got branded a traitor. There seems to have been some kind of a shift of terminology in these times.
ROBINSON: Right. Your recollection is correct. I think it was more of a shift of party and control of the White House, and both houses of Congress. And I think that the outrage that was displayed at criticism of the president of the time of war a few years ago was situational. And it seems to no longer apply when a certain party is no longer in charge.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Did the wars end? Did I miss that? Did I not get the memo?
ROBINSON: You know, I missed the memo if they did. The wars—the wars did not end. And it really was quite a spectacle. I mean, this was an elected congresswoman who presumably was sent here to make laws, out there doing this ridiculous—what do they call it—a press conference? I‘d love to know the media organizations that all those people represented who were out there bused in by the Astroturf group.
It was a—it was frankly appalling. But that‘s Michele Bachmann.
OLBERMANN: But it‘s always been appalling and it‘s always been Michele Bachmann, and I don‘t think she has any idea of what she‘s doing truly and its possible impact.
But today was when the Republicans say, “We own this.” There is racism in here. There is bigotry. There‘s refusal to acknowledge the outcome of an election that was a pretty clear-cut decision. There is a misunderstanding of a vital health care issue. There are a lot of things going on here.
But they‘re being stoked up into a rage and this was not—correct me if I‘m wrong about this—but this was the day the Republican Party said, “Yes, we‘ll take this. We‘ll run on this. We‘ll become the party of hate.”
ROBINSON: Well, it seems to me that they gave up any pretense of deniability today. When you have the minority leader out there joining the protest, the rally, whatever it was, with this horrific and frankly disgusting imagery that attended it, I—there is a certain amount of ownership that they take. And I think this is something that should be remembered. These are video clips that should be kept and should be played.
OLBERMANN: On an associated point with this, how did the organizers of this not realize, you know what? We had better get somehow, even if we‘ll have to pay them to show up, some black faces, some brown faces, some Asian people, or somebody in this crowd, other than the crowd that we‘ve seen at every piece of videotape that looked like—that looked exactly the same. This is otherwise going to look like a pro-apartheid rally in South Africa 35 or 40 years ago.
ROBINSON: Well, now, this is going to sound tendentious, Keith.
OLBERMANN: All right.
ROBINSON: But I went to the Republican National Convention last year, and you did not see many minorities there. And it—look, this is a—this is a party that has been more and more hostile to minorities, to Latinos, to African-Americans. It certainly perceived that way and this didn‘t help that image at all. That—you know, that seems to be the hand they‘ve decided to play.
OLBERMANN: It‘s terrifying.
Gene Robinson of MSNBC and “The Washington Post”—as always, great thanks, Gene.
ROBINSON: Good to talk to you.