9/2/2006 8:19:07 PM
The Greatest Speech of the Decade
Watch it again
History was made on Wednesday on MSNBC.
The host of a national television program gave a speech. A real speech. In fact, a great speech. In my opinion, probably the greatest speech, thus far, of this decade.
That a deep, thoughtful speech could wend it's way through the halls of the corporate media and box out, for a few glorious moments, the breaking news coverage of John Mark Karr's airplane landing on a runway in Colorado or Brittney Spears or Jessica Simpson or Paris Hilton or Tom Cruise or polygamists and the rest of the NewsPorn that passes as news while the country endures - and does not seem to care about - non-stop death in Iraq, a looming attack on yet another sovereign nation, a complete mess in the Middle East, upcoming elections to be conducted on electronic voting machines that are completely hackable, illegal wiretapping, a culture of fear and an apparent Houdini terrorist leader who has outwitted the entire American military for 5 years . . . is pretty close to a miracle.
Keith Olberman is that miracle.
Forget the rare courage to speak one's mind, unfiltered, unedited, un-focus grouped.
Olberman has pretty much always had that.
Forget the fact that very few political leaders, for the past 6 years, have had the courage to challenge an administration that so regularly and richly deserves it or to use or infer words like "quack" or "fascist" to describe our elected leaders. This raw candor is one of the things that put great leaders like Teddy Roosevelt and Winston Churchill so prominently in our history books but is a rarity today now that people like Paul Wellstone are no longer around to share their special brand of conscience.
In the NewsPorn world we live in it is the foul mouthed Ann Coulter, a bastardized and pathological variation thereof, that counts as courage today. Ms. Coulter, despite her attempts at beauty and insight, does not possess the dignity or true courage to even reside in the same country that produced a Teddy Roosevelt or a Paul Wellstone.
And we are not the same country.
And it was Edward R. Murrow, and today, Keith Olberman, who brilliantly and soulfully call us to our deepest origins and act, not just speak, the liberty that is our very foundation.
So, beyond the courage and the candor that Keith Olberman has always possessed, the 6 minute speech to America Wednesday night was, perhaps, the finest example seen in this decade of a man who could blend history, an understanding of current events, insight and passion. Usually one of those passes for acceptable television today.
Olberman's speech, as a speech, was extraordinary.
Listen to the subtlety. Without calling names he blasted Donald Rumsfeld and everyone else in the Bush Administration more powerfully than if he had filled his entire 6 minutes with 4 letter expletives.
The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack. Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.
Listen to the delivery. In the most important 6 minutes of his career, Keith Olberman is flawless in his delivery. Calm and passionate, centered with great nuance in his face and in his voice - nuance that filled in the spaces, beautifully, where heavy handed words would have been used by a less masterful speaker.
Listen to the intellect. If Keith wrote this himself, and it looks and feels as if he did (something that few modern speakers - Martin Luther King and Mario Cuomo are great exceptions - have with any regularity) this is an even more intelligent man than I had ever thought. It is not easy to write a great, or even a good speech.
Listen to the courage.
From Iraq to Katrina, to flu vaccine shortages, to the entire "Fog of Fear" which continues to envelope this nation - he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies,