Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Clone Wars: Freedom vs. Keith Olbermann

Why does life have to be so complicated? Keith Olbermann has been suspended from MSNBC indefinitely for donating to the campaigns of Democratic candidates. Taken at face value, it would seem to be an egregious violation of Mr. Olbermann's rights. I'm free to donate to Republican candidates even though my union always endorses Democratic candidates. No biggie. Not that I ever would, mind you.

The problem is that Keith is a member of the press. The press is supposed to be impartial and tell all sides of the story, n'est pas? Well, that's what we've always been told at least. But it seems somewhere in the 90's the rule book was rewritten. Now we chose to get our news from he or she that supports our own political beliefs. What's the harm in that? If I'm a liberal, I tune in to Keith's Countdown and listen to his rants against everyone from George Bush to Rupert Murdock.

And if that offends me, I can turn to FOX News and listen to the Huckabees and O'Reillys of the world spewing their hatred for anyone not old and white. That's perfectly fine. See, equal opportunity. The liberals have their havens and the conservatives have theirs. Sure, it's not the traditional idea of equal, unbiased coverage, but it's basically the same idea, right?

WRONG! What this new media polarization has left out is...The Undecided Voter. The Moderate. The Independent. I, being a registered Democrat, would of course like more of those wishy-washy flip-floppers to tune into MSNBC to hear the news from Keith, Rachel, and Chris rather than hearing the evil messages of Bill and Mike. But the truth is, when Mr. or Mrs. wishy-washy tunes in to what they think is unbiased news, they are likely to be swayed based on the station his or her boob tube is tuned in to.

But maybe the wishy-washy flip-floppers have a point. Maybe we should take each individual circumstance and candidate as a completely separate situation and realize that, at times, both sides have good points. And in such cases, it seems to me, that both sides are wrong.

Should taxes be as low as possible and the government let us live our lives? Yup.

Should programs be in place for those who need them and health care be provided as a right, not a privilege? Yup.

But, sadly, you can't butter the bread on both sides without making a mess. Something's gotta give. This is why I have to ask, why does life have to be so complicated? Do evil people sometimes deserve to die in my mind? Probably. Is it somehow hypocritical, icky, and immoral to kill someone even if he or she did commit unspeakable acts? Um, yeah. I think so. Why can't the world realize that there's no clear-cut answer in any case. We all have our opinions on what's the right way to live, but who knows for sure? Nobody.

I'm left wondering what to do with my political life. I used to be an Independent, but I always voted for the Democrat, so it seemed like I was a Democrat. But I sometimes wonder if I'm wrong. Then I think, what I'm really trying to decide is what politicians I agree with--the Dems or Repubs. Guess what. It's neither. What I'm realizing is that NO politician is truly a representative of my ideals. What we do in this country--no, in this world--is elect those who want to be elected; that is, we give power to those who are not looking out for our best interests but who simply want power. That's why they run. They're not me. They don't represent me. They're greedy, power-hungry turds. I wouldn't want to "have a beer" with any of these uptight scum bags.

I am, in a small way, part of the press myself now. I advise a high school newsmagazine. Through an amazing turn of events, my editor-in-chief, a brilliant young lady, had the opportunity to interview both Tom Foley (Republican candidate for governor of CT) and Dan Malloy (Democratic candidate for the same office) in consecutive months. After getting to hear their conversations with her, I decided they were both full of shit up to their eyeballs. In fact, not only did I get the impression they weren't in it for the right reasons, I got the impression that neither of them put much thought into their own beliefs. That their beliefs weren't theirs to begin with. They don't even know what they stand for. They stand for either a donkey or an elephant and that's about it. They were pawns of an ideology they'd been spoon fed since they chose one of only two paths offered to them as young men.

Even in a relaxed conversation with a 17 year-old, the cliches were shooting around the room left and right. They were programmed machines. By whom, I don't know. It's like archetypes in literature. I feel like each Republican candidate for any office is just another Reagan and any Democrat is Franklin Roosevelt 2.0. We just keep hearing different packagings of "Trickle Down Economics" and "New Deals" over-and-over and none of it works a damn. WTF.

So what does that leave us? Nothing. We might as well define ourselves as one side or another and vote straight down party lines because that's the only choice we have. All Democratic politicians are the same and so are all Republicans. They all fall in line. All with the same message. No new ideas. No thinking outside the box. No thinking at all. The truth is, the minds that are making the decisions aren't qualified--they were simply the people that wanted the power, so they ran. They erased everything that made them an individual and became Reagan or Roosevelt just so they could be the head of something. Depressing. Therefore, we might as well separate our news coverage. There's no in between.

Until this world puts those in office who are not seeking office (a logical impossibility), we are doomed. No hope. Truth is, I have more faith in my journalism class under its current structure to run this country than all the jokers plodding around trying to scrape up a little more power in Washington and every state and local government combined. And my guys and gals are only high school students. But at least their hearts are in the right place, and their minds are free of corruption. They believe in what they believe in, not what they had to believe in to gain power.

So, Olbermann, a Teddy Roosevelt, gave some money to a few other Teddy Roosevelts. Not a big deal. Certainly, not a new deal. So what if all the FOX News Reagan clones give to other Reagan clones. They're all the same. All we need is one Republican and one Democrat sitting in one room together to make all the decisions for the entire world and the results would be the same. Nothing would happen.

I'm too old and too indocrinated into the system to stop now. I'll keep voting Democrat hoping I can get more Roosevelts in power than Reagans. But maybe the new generation can find a way to create a revolution that leads to leadership that deserves it, not leadership that simply wants it. Fat chance. The system has been good to Reagans and Roosevelts and they will fight to keep it the same, even if they don't understand why.

Maybe a true independent will run for president some day and win--then we can have three archetypes in the room making decisions, a tie breaker. Maybe then, only then, will anything get done--for better or worse.

Oh, and MSNBC, let Keith back on the air. He's entertaining.


  1. Hey, the archtypes thing is "about literature" enough. And if literature is life (that's what I always say), this blog is right where it should be. What you say is really the basis for why I have come to distrust anyone who aspires to run for an office because their independent thinking MUST be compromised. I voted for independent John Anderson years ago. It felt good but may have backfired by taking votes away from Carter. Did you see Maddow's response to Keith's situation?

  2. I love her intellectualism. She should run for president. But, anyway, it's kind of an easy job all of these pundits have. Making each other and the candidates they are against look bad. I believe that's why no matter which pundit you see trashing the opposition, they always look so smart. Because both sides deserve a good trashing.

    And that's the issue with these third party candidates. They have no chance to win, and voting for them (and real change) just leads to being punished by helping to elect your mortal enemy.

    Do you know who I think could do it as an Independent? Michael Bloomberg. I've been to NY a couple times recently, and it's a noticeably nicer place to be even since Rudy. He's funding what needs to be funded and saving money on what money can be saved on. He could do it. But something tells me he's closer to a Republican than a true Independent. Much like Lieberman is a Democrat hiding behind an "I" that was simply convenient at the time.

  3. I'll have to keep a closer eye on Bloomberg. Pre-VP candidacy, I was a fan of Joe. Then he swallowed the me-me-me pill and has nauseated me ever since. I seem to get more politically scarred every election. Now, if Hillary had made it through to the presidential ballot . . .
    How about Hilliary and Maddow in 2012? (Great dream sequence if I ever turn to fiction).

  4. This last election cycle there were all these "I Voted! Go Vote!" posts popping up everywhere on facebook and I kept thinking, "why?" There's no point to it. I've been independent for a long time, though I tend to lean probably more democrat...I pretty much loathe anything republican. But you're right, anymore they're all just atomatons with cookie-cutter platforms.

    I truly wish someone smart and gutsy would stand up and have their own opinions. I don't even care if I didn't like the opinions as long as they aren't the same party lines. This country is far too binary and that never leads to anything good. I don't know how different Hillary would be but I wish she'd grow a pair and run against Obama in 2012, cuz the way things are going he's not going to be a 2-termer. And then we're going to be stuck with the repubs again.

    The only chance dems have of keeping the presidency longer than one term is to have someone else on the ticket. I like Obama but I think he was doomed from the start only because he was handed a hellish mess and in this now-now-now culture people expected him to have fixed it by now. But it took 8 years to mess it up so of course it's going to take time to fix it. Especially with repubs fighting any progress.

    It would be very disrespectful and probably an ugly mess to run another democrat against Obama, but so what? There aren't any appealing independents on the horizon. Or maybe a presidential team: one dem and one repub? That would definitely be messy, but a little mess never hurt anyone. It's time to shake things up anyway. Messy is good. Change is good.

  5. I think Obama was change. Everyone keeps saying it's the same old same old, but I don't know the last time I saw a politician do something he knew would make everyone hate him just because he thought it was the right thing to do. Nancy Pelosi went down with him. They got health care passed, making history and probably saving lives, but now she's no longer the speaker--Boner is--and Obama has to really hustle if he wants another 4 years. But they put what was right in front of politics, and that was nice to see. Too bad they were punished for it.

  6. He's ba-ack! ;) And apologized to viewers, not MSNBC. Oh, snap.

  7. Stellar post, Frisk. And very close to my sentiments. "Fair and balanced?" By whose standards? "The place for politics?" The only one who makes sense half the time is Jeanne Moos. We are living in scary times as far as the press is concerned, all the more reason to mourn the decline of the newspapers. Give me a Maureen Dowd or Thomas Friedman anyday. I recently dropped my long-time subscription to Time magazine and picked up the New Yorker. There's still some quality reportage out there, but how bizarre is it when one of the biggest stories of the year came out of Rolling Stone and not the New York Times?

  8. I've actually used Rolling Stone features to teach writing to my students. And yes, Keith is back. I wonder how much of this was staged just to show the public that they do have rules and Fox doesn't. All the talk out of MSNBC was "Hannity fund raises and endorses right on the air," which he does. He was off for like two days or whatever. Sounds fishy.