Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A History Lesson From Our Edward R. Murrow

Last Thursday Keith Olbermann delivered another passionate rebuke of the president over the signing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.  I encountered it only late Saturday via the transcript posted on  This is the same way I encountered the one I blogged on a couple of weeks ago.  I have not watched MSNBC since they pulled Donahue's show three years ago.  I have watched CNN rarely other than by accident since they pulled Aaron Brown.  But after reading this second stirring commentary by Olbermann, I was prepared to go listen to him so I could at least learn the cadences of his voice and thus be able to 'hear' him speaking the next time I read a transcript.

As I re-read the transcript, The Beginning of the End of America, I began to notice there was more missing than the sound of his voice.  Knowing how television presentation works, I suspected that there had been visual images to accompany the short history lesson that followed the phrase, 'We have been here before...:  And in the case of the reference to the individual who had been silenced by President Wilson and subsequently ran for president himself--from his jail cell, I am ashamed to admit, I did not have a clue as to who that could have been.  So on Sunday afternoon, as I prepared to write this post, I went looking for a video clip of this commentary.  I immediately thought of Crooks and Liars.

Once there, though, I had to work backwards through several pages of newer posts to find the one for Olbermann's Thursday commentary.  I watched a number of video clips on my way.  When I finally found the one I went after, it was well worth the hunt.  I got much more than an answer to my question as to who once ran for president from a jail cell--Eugene Debbs, by the way.  I got much more than the ability to 'hear' Olbermann speak the next time I read transcripts of his commentaries.  The impact of the whole package--the video clips running continuously, the passion in his delivery via both voice and body language--brought me to tears.  Finally there is someone with a national platform who is speaking for me; who is addressing my most core fears.  The fear of being once again subsumed by a totalitarian groupthink; the fear of being gobstopped by the fear of unbearable reprisals for speaking or thinking from my center; the fear of being complicit just by dent of being American in atrocities on a par with the Japanese internment camps or the napalming of thatched hut villages.

For if safety comes at such a price...I can't bear the cost.  Life itself would be a shame too deep to surface from; a prison as dark and confining as a coffin.

I watched that video clip three times before I decided that I needed to go look for more.  Starting with the one for his commentary that I referenced in my previous post about Olbermann,'We Do Have Our Own Edward R. Murrow.''  I began by googling Olbermann and one of the first sites that I encountered was this one: Keith Olbermann.  He has a fan club!  And it was on this site that I found more clips and links to even more clips on  I spent the next several hours watching video clips of Olbermann.  Not just the special commentaries he started the last week of August but interviews he conducted on Countdown.

In the process, I became so immersed in the sound of his voice and its cadences that I suspected that I would not be able to write my own post in my own voice until I allowed some time to pass.  Besides, I had worn out my eyes and needed scotch tape to keep them open. Then on Monday, I began work on this post by attempting to collect links on my reading regarding the Military Commissions Act, which was what triggered Olbermann's commentary and mini history lesson last Thursday.  I can see now that the material I gathered on that belongs in its own post.  This one is long enough.  Besides, I have run out of time again.  I need to get ready to go sit with Grandma for the afternoon and when I get home I need to start work on the next Thursday Thirteen post and if I don't post this now, I will, once again, have zero posts between two TTs.

1 tell me a story:

Jamie 10/27/2006 11:50 PM  

History does relive itself in many aspects. What you have shown me, in private, and in your blog that this is most definitely true. Our government is not perfect and especially, President Bush and his cronies, questioning his decisions, and the choices he is making is a right that we all have as Americans. There must be a reason why so many countries do not like America or the things that we stand for. I admire your enthusiasm for this subject.

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