2008 What A Difference Five Months Makes
posted by June 27 at 15:21 PMon
As Glenn Greenwald points out today, MSNBC hack Keith Olbermann used harsh language to condemn the Bush administration for supporting warrantless wiretaps and immunity for telecoms in this year’s FISA bill. In a ten-minute “Special Comment,” Olbermann referred to FISA (inaccurately, but whatever) as “literally a textbook example of fascism, the merged efforts of government and corporations that answer to no government.” Then, noting Bush’s coziness with telecommunications lobbyists, Olbermann continued:
This is no longer just a farce in which protecting telecoms is dressed up as protecting us from terrorists’ conference cells. Now it begins to look like the bureaucrats of the Third Reich, trying to protect the Krupp family, the industrial giants, re-writing the laws of Germany for their benefit. There is not a choice of protecting the telecoms from prosecution or protecting the people from terrorism, Sir. This is a choice of protecting the telecoms from prosecution or pretending to protect the people from terrorists. Sorry, Mr. Bush, the eavesdropping provisions of FISA have obviously had no impact on counter-terrorism, and there is no current or perceived terrorist threat the thwarting of which could hinge on an email or phone call that is going through Room 641 of AT&T in San Francisco.
But now that Barack Obama is supporting those same provisions, Olbermann has lost his taste for outrage. Not just that: In a conversation with Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter two nights ago, the MSNBC commentator openly praised Obama for his strength and bravery in “refusing to cower even to the left on the subject of warrantless wiretapping,” adding: “not cowering to Republicans is one thing in the Democratic, recent Democratic history, it’s a thing that I think anybody who has a “D” near their name cheers, but not cowering to the left, not going along with the conventional, the new conventional thinking on the FISA bill, that’s something altogether different, isn’t it?
Yep, that would be the “new conventional thinking” to which Olbermann so breathlessly subscribed, oh, five months ago.
On the other hand: The fact that Obama supports the death penalty for child rapists shouldn’t surprise anyone. As an Illinois state senator, Obama voted repeatedly to expand the list of crimes that are subject to the death penalty, including murdering a senior citizen; murdering a disabled person; murder related to terrorism; and killing volunteers in community policing programs, among others. I don’t happen to agree with him (and Scalia, and Clarence Thomas) on this one—I think the evidence from the Senator’s own state shows that the rate of wrongful conviction is still too high to justify killing anyone, and there’s ample proof that African Americans are executed in disproportionate numbers—but it’s not like he’s kept his feelings on the subject a secret. His support for warrantless wiretaps may have been pandering, but the death penalty statement seems to be the way Obama really feels.