Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Keith Olbermann: The Trademarking of 9/11
As promised, a Special Comment about our sad anniversary tomorrow.
Or, more correctly, what our sad anniversary tomorrow has been turned into by the presidential administration, and the current Republican candidates for President and Vice President.
This is supposed to be a day of remembrance. Remembrance of the attack, remembrance of the national unity which followed it.
Most important of all, remembrance of the dead.
But 9/11 has become a brand name. A Republican campaign slogan. Propaganda of the lowest form. 9/11 has become 9/11 with a trademark logo.
9/11 (TM) has sustained a president who long ago should have been dismissed, or impeached. It has kept him and his gang of financial and constitutional crooks in office without — literally — any visible means of support.
9/11 (TM) has made possible the greatest sleight-of-hand in our nation’s history.
The political party in office at the time of the attacks, at the local, state and national levels, the party which uniformly ignored the warnings and the presidential administration already through twenty percent of its first term and no longer wet behind the ears, have not only thus far escaped any blame for the malfeasance and criminal neglect that allowed the attacks to occur, but that presidency and that party, have managed to make it seem as if the other political party would be solely and irredeemably responsible for any similar catastrophe in the future.
Thus, Sen. McCain, were you able to accomplish a further inversion of reality at your party’s nominating convention last week.
There was the former Mayor of the City of New York, the one who took no counter-terrorism measure in his seven years in office between the first attack on the World Trade Center, and the second attack.
Nothing, except to insist, despite all advice and warning, that his Emergency Command Center be moved directly into the World Trade Center.
Yet there was this man, Sir, Rudolph Giuliani, quite succinctly dismissed as “A Noun, a Verb, and 9/11,” and repudiated even by Republican voters, transformed into the keynote speaker, Sen. McCain at your convention.
And his childish, squealing, braying, Tourette’s-like repetition of 9/11 (TM), was greeted not as conclusive evidence that he is consumed by massive guilt - hard-earned guilt, in fact but rather as some kind of political tour-de-force, an endorsement of your Vice Presidential nominee, a rookie governor , a facile and slick con artist.
The blind endorsing the bland, to a chorus of 9/11 (TM), 9/11 (TM), 9/11 (TM.)
Your ringing mindless cheer of “We’ve Kept You Safe Since Then.”While nobody asks “doesn’t then count?”
All of this, sadistically disrespecting the dead of New York, and Washington, and Shanksville. Endorsed, Sen. McCain. Exploited, Sen. McCain. Trademarked, Sen. McCain by you.
And yet of course the exact moment in which Sen. McCain’s Republicans showed the nation exactly how far they have fallen from the Better Angels of Mr. Lincoln’s Nature, came the next night.
The television networks were told that the Convention would pause, early in the evening, when children could still be watching, for a 9/11 Tribute, and they were encouraged to broadcast it.
What we got was not a tribute to the dead of 9/11, nor even a tribute to the responders, or the singularity of purpose we all felt. The Republicans gave us sociological pornography, a virtual snuff film.
Years ago, responsible television networks, to the applause of the nation, and the relief of its mental health authorities, voluntarily stopped showing the most graphic of the images of the World Trade Center, except with the strongest of warnings.
And yet, the Republicans, at their convention, having virtually seized control of the cable news operations, showed the worst of it.
This is all anyone with a conscience can show you of what the Republicans showed you. The actual collapse of the smoking towers.
A fleeting image of what might have been a victim leaping to his death from a thousand feet up. And something new. From this angle, ground-level, perfectly framed, images, of the fireball created when the second plane hit the second tower.
It was terrifying. After all its object was to terrify. Not to commemorate, not to call for unity, not to remember the dead. But to terrify.
To open again the horrible wounds, to brand the skin of this nation with the message — as hateful as the terrorists’ own, that you must vote Republican or this will happen again and you will die.
And just in case that was not enough, to also dishonestly and profanely conflate 9/11 with the 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis, to stoke the flames of paranoia about another Middle Eastern Nation.
This was a 9/11 Tribute. Not to the dead, nor to the unity. But a tribute to how valuable 9/11 has been as a political tool for the Republican Party. 9/11... (TM.)
Sen. McCain, you had promised us a clean campaign. You could be Snow-White the rest of the way, Sir, yet that manipulative videotape from your convention should tar you always in the minds of decent Americans.
And still, as this seventh 9/11 (TM) approaches that, Sir, is not the worst of your contributions to the utter politicizing of a day that should be sacrosanct to all of us.
Hard to believe, but the Senator has done worse with 9/11 and the evil behind it.
We heard it last week in Minnesota, we’ve heard it off and on since January but Senator McCain said it most concisely in June.
“Look,” he said. “I know the area, I’ve been there, I know wars, I know how to win wars, and I know how to improve our capabilities so that we will capture Osama bin Laden — or put it this way, bring him to justice. We will do it. I know how to do it.”
Sen. McCain seems to be quite serious, that he and he alone, not the CIA, nor the U.S. Military, nor the current President can capture bin Laden.
Thus we must take him at his word, that this is no mere ludicrous campaign boast.
We must assume Sen. McCain truly believes he is capable of doing this, and has been capable of doing this, since last January. “We will capture Osama bin Laden… we will do it. I know how to do it.”
Well then, Senator, you’d better go and do it hadn’t you?
Because, Sir, if a man or woman in this nation, Democrat or Republican, had a clear and effective means of capturing or killing Osama bin Laden…
If that person had been advertising his claim, Senator for eight months.
But if that person not only refused to go to responsible authorities in government and advise them of this plan to catch bin Laden, but further announced he would not even begin to enact this secret plan to corral the world’s most hated man until the end of next January.
What would be your description of such an individual, Senator? Charlatan? Do-nothing? Opportunist? Sen. McCain, if you have, if you have had a means of capturing Osama bin Laden, and you do not immediately inform some responsible authority of the full scope of that plan, you are to some degree great or small aiding and abetting Osama bin Laden.
If you could assist in capturing him now, Sen. McCain, but you have chosen not to you, Sir, have helped Osama bin Laden stay free.
Free to inspire and supervise the terrorists. Free to plan or execute attacks here.
You, Sir, are blackmailing some portion of the American electorate into voting for your party, by promising to help in the capture of bin Laden only if you are made president!
I’d rather win an election than catch bin Laden! No more cynical calculation has ever been made in this nation’s history, Sir. If you lose the election, Senator, are you not going to tell the President-Elect?
Are you intending to keep this a secret until the next election and your party’s next nominee? Senator, as you and your Republicans shed your phony, crocodile, opportunistic tears tomorrow on 9/11 TM, in front of the utterly disingenuous banner “Country First,” the fact is, you have shown that it is John McCain first, and the country last.
The fact is, Sir, by holding out on your secret plan to catch bin Laden by searing those images into our collective wounded American psyche at your nomination last week, terrorists are not what you, John McCain, fight. Terrorists are what you, John McCain, use.