Tuesday night, Keith Olbermann started the new year with a brilliant Special Comment about the real implications of sacrifice. Specifically, the President's callow (or willful?) ignorance of the word as well as his apparent obliviousness to the devastated families who know its meaning all too well.
Honestly, I am in awe of Olbermann's writing and speaking talents; that he can display those gifts, and that passion, on an internationally-broadcast news program with no fear of reproof, revenge, or men in black vans--certainly no fear that's apparent, anyway--speaks to his profound courage as a journalist.
Crooks & Liars has the video and transcript up now; an excerpt of the transcript follows (take note of Olbermann's sharp aside to John McCain, too):
The President has delayed, dawdled, and deferred for the month since the release of the Iraq Study Group.
He has seemingly heard out everybody… and listened to none of them.
If the BBC is right — and we can only pray it is not — he has settled on the only solution all the true experts agree, cannot possibly work: more American personnel in Iraq, not as trainers for Iraqi troops, but as part of some flabby plan for "sacrifice."
More American servicemen and women will have their lives risked.
More American servicemen and women will have their lives ended.
More American families will have to bear the unbearable, and rationalize the unforgivable — "sacrifice" — sacrifice now, sacrifice tomorrow, sacrifice forever.
And more Americans — more even than the two-thirds who already believe we need fewer troops in Iraq, not more — will have to conclude the President does not have any idea what he's doing - and that other Americans will have to die for that reason.
It must now be branded as propaganda — for even the President cannot truly feel that very many people still believe him to be competent in this area, let alone "the decider."
The former Labor Secretary, Robert Ryke, says Senator McCain told him that the "surge" would help the "morale" of the troops already in Iraq.
If Mr. McCain truly said that, and truly believes it, he has either forgotten completely his own experience in Vietnam… or he is unaware of the recent Military Times poll indicating only 38 percent of our active military want to see more troops sent… or Mr. McCain has departed from reality.
Then there is the argument that to take any steps towards reducing troop numbers would show weakness to the enemy in Iraq, or to the terrorists around the world.
This simplistic logic ignores the inescapable fact that we have indeed already showed weakness to the enemy, and to the terrorists.
We have shown them that we will let our own people be killed, for no good reason.
We have now shown them that we will continue to do so.
We have shown them our stupidity.
Mr. Bush, your judgment about Iraq — and now about "sacrifice" — is at variance with your people's, to the point of delusion.
Your most respected generals see no value in a "surge" — they could not possibly see it in this madness of "sacrifice."
The Iraq Study Group told you it would be a mistake.
Perhaps dozens more have told you it would be a mistake.
And you threw their wisdom back, until you finally heard what you wanted to hear, like some child drawing straws and then saying "best two out of three… best three out of five… Hundredth one counts."
Your citizens, the people for whom you work, have told you they do not want this, and moreover, they do not want you to do this.
Yet once again, sir, you have ignored all of us.
Mr. Bush, you do not own this country!
To those Republicans who have not broken free from the slavery of partisanship — those bonded still, to this President and this Administration — and now bonded to this "sacrifice" — proceed at your own peril.
John McCain may still hear the applause of small crowds — he has somehow inured himself to the hypocrisy, and the tragedy, of a man who considers himself the ultimate realist, courting the votes of those who support the government telling visitors to the Grand Canyon that it was caused by the Great Flood.
That Mr. McCain is selling himself off to the irrational Right, parcel by parcel, like some great landowner facing bankruptcy, seems to be obvious to everybody but himself.
Or, maybe it is obvious to him — and he simply no longer cares.
(Hat tip to Shakes reader Attaturk for posting the YouTube video.)