Sunday, May 25, 2008

Keith Olberman - Not Your Usual Talking Head

I've always liked Keith Olberman from his early days on ESPN. He has found his place with his MSNBC show and I hope he doesn't fall victim to one of the GE suits who might cut him off at the knees someday. Commentators who have a sports background - going all the way back to Twain and HL Menchen - seem less inclined to accept bullshit with their facts, and nonsense with their analysis. This week, when Hillary Clinton uttered her "Bobby Kennedy" assassination assertion, the usual suspects, the regular talking heads on the TV took turns, one after the other, saying that Hillary was a wonderful person and she couldn't have really meant anything about Obama getting assassinated. "Too dark," many of them said. "A misstatement" deserving of whatever they meant by "the benefit of the doubt." They sided with familiar rationalizations rather than paying attention to their lying ears.

Keith Olberman did not fall into this black hole of instant revisionism and automatic forgiveness. And I think his background is partially responsible. Sports guys, like Olberman, recognize results and properly equate motive with performance. They understand what a final score is. They know the loser never "outplays" the winner. That's why they keep score. Every game ends with a number and each and every winner has the better one. More importantly, as it impacts Mrs. Clinton, Olberman is used to watching performers who give it their all - 100% - who are trying with every ounce of their energy. There's no such thing as a lucky shot in golf or a lucky home run in baseball. Yes, they really are trying to hit the ball in the hole and into the stands.

In politics, the truth can't be that much different from sports. Mrs. Clinton learned that the hard way. Her victory in the Kentucky Primary will always be overshadowed by her loss in the Kentucky Derby. As a sign of everything wrong with her campaign, she insisted on backing the ill-fated Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby. The filly was beaten by Big Brown... and she died! What an image. I almost felt sorry for Hillary. Until the other day.

Seems to me she must be actively telling uncommitted superdelegates they ought to pick her because she can get white people to vote for her (and he can't) and she can live to be inaugurated (and he can't!). Yikes! She was well aware the Editorial Board was taping her appearance. The quantity and quality of her live, unrehearsed, contemporaneous comments has been few and none for this last year of campaigning. Of course, she knew what she was saying in South Dakota. She always does. So, the cast of characters who earn their living on the TV talking about things they don't understand any better than anyone else does, jumped to Mrs. Clinton's defense. And Olberman wouldn't have any of that - she's a good old, well meaning girl crap. He stands alone.

That's what makes his show, "Countdown" so interesting to watch. He is more Howard than Edward R. He takes Cosell out of the football booth and puts him smack in the middle of what's really happening in the world. He recognizes truth even when its uncomfortable. Yes,the far-right evangelical pastors tend to be anti-Semites. And so is Billy Graham, too. Yes, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, and who knows how many others, are cheaters. And yes, Hillary Clinton does wish Barack Obama would die, disappear and let her be President, for Christ's sake! I don't know anything about his private life, but Olberman's unclouded understanding of Mrs. Clinton tells me he must be a parent. Every father knows the cry of "gimme, gimme,'s mine, mine, mine" when he hears it.


Anonymous said...

Dear Papa,
Can't say how happy I am to read your blog. Concise, witty,knowledgeable,and most readable. Look forward to more and more of these pieces.
Fangalina Jones

Barbara said...

Wow! I am so glad you have done this. This is what the wrold needs, my daddy's opinion!

Love you!


Anonymous said...

Tell me which one of our brood said to you...

"gimme,gimme,gimme, it's mine,mine, mine!"

I willa knocka da head off!


Anonymous said...

Each day I click on "papadablogger" with great anticipation, hoping for more words of wisdom. Que passo? I look to you for comment on the whacky nature of this political world we inhabit. Please "papa" your audience awaits your next observations.