Keith Olbermann’s Heroic Healthcare Special Comment

Countdown’s Keith Olbermann returned in style last night, “firing” Richard Wolffe, breaking his Billo truce, and delivering a fiery Special Comment.  Watch the video first, if you haven’t seen it yet, and then I’ll tell you what I thought.

Here’s part 2:

Overall, I give this effort a thumbs up.  However, let me start by calling out a couple of instances of dirty pool.

First, there was this:

In March of 1911, after a wave of minor factory fires in New York City, the City’s Fire Commissioner issued emergency rules about fire prevention, protection, escape, sprinklers. The City’s Manufacturers Association in turn called an emergency meeting to attack the Fire Commissioner and his ‘interference with commerce.’

The new rules were delayed. Just days later, a fire broke out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. The door to the fire escape was bolted shut to keep the employees from leaving prematurely. One hundred and fifty of those employees died, many by jumping from the seventh floor windows to avoid the flames. Firefighters setting up their ladders literally had to dodge the falling, often burning, women.

It was clearly meant to be evocative of 9/11, and I don’t like it when either side uses that sort of imagery for political point-scoring.

It’s a shame, because his point is an excellent one.  There will always be corporations who absolutely will not do the right thing unless you force them to.  While this is also true of individuals, powerful corporations can inflict much more harm than an individual.  A different example could have made this point more effectively.

In a similar vein:

Senator Lincoln? By the way, considering how you’re obstructing health care reform, how do you feel… every time you actually see Sen. Kennedy?

While this is obviously meant to shame Lincoln, I doubt very much that Ted Kennedy would approve of being an object of pity, nor would he or I subscribe to the notion that his legacy is even a smidgen of what’s at stake here.

I also don’t usually go in for attacks about fundraising, because the figures can be manipulated or explained away, and there’s usually a better argument to be made.  In this case, however, there’s no denying the power, spending and otherwise, of the health care industry lobby.

Finally, I objected to his characterization of Republicans as prostitutes.  Many of them are actually just dupes, reared on a diet of lies and bad information.

Still, all of these pale in comparison to the dirty pool played by the other side, so I say “Eff ’em.”

The best part, for me, was his excoriation of the Blue Dogs, the true villains here.  Republicans are just doing what they’re supposed to do (try to mess up the country), but the Blue Dogs are supposed to, and do, know better.

Whatever quibbles I might have with Keith’s execution are far overshadowed by the fact that this was a hugely effective segment.  Not because it changed the minds of any voters (most of them agree with him already), but because I guarantee you this will be discussed over lunch at the White House today.



  1. The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.
    ~Alexis de Tocqueville

    If only it had turned out that way. Instead, we’ve legalized bribery and turned the Congress into a public auction.

    This situation will never change until we place term limits on these people. Being a Senator is supposed to a be a term of service, not a career.

  2. The Triangle Shirtwaist disaster was preventable. Thanks to the push of big business and their flagrant disregard for safety (bolting the fire doors shut so people can’t leave early, that completely defeats the purpose, I think I’ve heard of more humane practices in Nike sweatshops), 150 workers – mostly women – were condemned to burn to death, which is one of the more painful and unpleasant ways to go.

    Every time I think about it, I get angry. And people wonder why I have a deep-seated dislike of large corporations that try to interfere with policy. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

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