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It's a fine line between living for the moment and being a sociopath.

Patricia B McConnell: For The Love Of A Dog.

Pema Chodron: The Places That Scare You

Daniel Wallace: Mr Sebastian & the Negro Magician

All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. --Pablo Neruda

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Losing his show, or just losing his way?

I have celebrated both the mouth and the guts of Keith Olbermann a few times here, recently. He's spoken elequently in closing editorials on his MSNBC program The Countdown, one of the only major media personalities to call the Bush administration out in the kind of frank terms that our spiral downward requires.

I have no doubt that right-wingers decry Olbermann in the same terms that I would trash wing-nut partisan hack blowhards like Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter, but there are few Bush administration critics with either the platform or the skill of Olbermann.

Recently, he's been using both. Which makes Jeff Cohen worried for him, as he details in his article "Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?".

The only fear I really have for Keith is that his polemics have been getting increasingly personalized to Bush Jr. Edward R Murrow, Olbermann's journalistic hero, was at his best when he used a person's behaviour -- notably Joseph McCarthy's -- as the example of an evil, rather than naming the person's behaviour as the evil, itself.

When Olbermann villainizes Bush the man, he provides a too-easy chicken exit, which is to debate Bush's personal words and behaviour, rather to engage with the ideology and policies Bush represents. Focusing on the wrongs, themselves, at the root of the entire administration's behaviour -- not restricting the attack to one bone-head -- but using the bone-head as the illustration, strikes me as more intellectually honest, and a more effective way of engaging a broader crowd in the debate. It is too easy to be dismissed as a simple Bush-basher, otherwise.

In the end, however, this is a rhetorical choice, and perhaps a nuanced one. That choice makes the importance of Olbermann's voice on the air no less significant.

Long may it rant.

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Below is a recent Olbermann polemic: too personally villainizing for my tastes, even if I back the sentiment.


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