Olbermann Links GOP and Tea Party to Racism and 'Incitement to Violence' in 'Special Comment'
On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann reaffirmed his
accusations of racism against both the Republican party and Tea Party
activists, and even tied in the recent racist statements made over the
intercom at a Wal-Mart by a disgruntled employee as he tried to link
isolated incidents of racism to these mainstream organizations. After
recounting reports that someone shouted the "N" word at black members of
Congress as they walked past protesters outside the Capitol, Olbermann
But in a backwards, sick-to-my-stomach way, I would like to thank whoever shouted at Mr. Lewis and Mr. Carson for proving my previous point. If racism is not the whole of the Tea Party, it is in its heart, along with blind hatred, a total disinterest in the welfare of others, and a full- flowered, self-rationalizing refusal to accept the outcomes of elections, or the reality of democracy, or the narrowness of their minds and the equal narrowness of their public support." On Saturday, that support came from evolutionary regressives like Michele Bachmann and Jon Voight. On a daily basis that support comes from the racists and homophobes of radio and television: the Michael Savages and the Rush Limbaughs.
Plugging the segment, Olbermann at one point even linked the Republican party and Tea Party activists to "incitement to violence," and warned of possible extinction like the Whig party: "An appeal tonight to the Republicans and to the Tea Partiers. You bet everything you had on health care reform, and you have lost, so try something different with less spitting, less racism, less incitement to violence before you become the Whig party of 2010." During his "Special Comment," he further warned: "You are behind the wheel of a political Toyota. And before the midterms, you will have been reduced to only being this generation`s home for the nuts."
Below is a complete transcript of Olbermann's "Special Comment," along with some of the plugs that aired during the show, from the Monday, March 22, Countdown show on MSNBC:
KEITH OLBERMANN, IN OPENING TEASER: Welcome to Waterloo.
DAVID FRUM, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: We went the radical way looking for Waterloo, and it looks like we arrived at Waterloo.
OLBERMANN: Where Frum`s Republicans were surprised to find they were Napoleon and they were getting their assets kicked by Wellington. Are any Republicans listening to Frum`s warning to steer out of the skid? Or are they too busy screaming "baby killer" at him (SHOWS IMAGE OF BART STUPAK), or "go back to Mexico" at him (SHOWS IMAGE OF REP. CIRO RODRIGUEZ), or the F-word at him (SHOWS IMAGE OF REP. BARNEY FRANK), or the "N" at them? (SHOWS IMAGE OF REP. JOHN LEWIS AND REP. ANDRE CARSON) The debate is over, but the racism lingers on. My special guest: Majority Whip James Clyburn. And tonight, the "Special Comment": When the count of isolated incidents reaches double figures, those are not isolated incidents, they are Tea Partiers.
OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK: But unhappily, the attacks continue on Congressman Lewis, on Congressman Cleaver, on Congressman Rodriguez, on Congressman Frank, on Congressman Stupak. Some of them defended now by a Republican congressman from California. Congressman Jim Clyburn, next. And later, a "Special Comment" on how politics has changed with this, and how it obviously hasn`t, and how the Republicans still appear to be convinced the earth is flat and, moreover, that they own it.
OLBERMANN, DURING COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:19 P.M.: Before I talk with House Majority Whip James Clyburn about the appalling racism and homophobia of the tea party protesters inside Congress over the weekend, this is an appropriate place for me to thank you from the depths of my heart for all the messages of condolence and the contributions to the National Association of Free Clinics after the death of my father. At the age of five, all of us look at our dads and see a hero and time then places him in a healthy perspective. At the age of 50, I had the privilege of seeing that perspective erased and to have that hero back. More in a moment.
OLBERMANN: To resume, on full display as the health care reform bill moved towards victory, the full kaleidoscope of hate speech. Worse, some Republican lawmakers encouraged that misdirected anger, and one was the actual source. Shouting from the House floor, something more typical of an enraged protester, such as the ones egged on by Congresswoman Bachmann and other Republican lawmakers from the balcony outside the speaker`s lobby Sunday afternoon. Ms. Bachmann later took turns with other GOP lawmakers speaking to that crowd. Just a coincidence that inside over the weekend, Congressman Barney Frank, who is openly gay, had to listen to at least three different homophobic slurs by protesters. The congressman has responded, quoting, "Obviously, there are perfectly reasonable people that are against this, but the people out there today on the whole, many of them were hateful and abusive."
Another strong case in point, protesters shouted the N-word at Congressman John Lewis and Andre Carson. "I`ve heard this before in the `60s," Congressman Lewis said. "A lot of this is downright hate." A protestor spit on Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, who is also African-American. Hispanic Congressman Ciro Rodriguez was called a racial slur often directed at Hispanics, specifically Mexicans. And from the House floor, Congressman Bart Stupak was shouted down with the phrase, "baby killer." GOP Congressman Randy Neugebauer, a birther who introduced a birth certificate bill to the House last year, has confirmed he said it. He has apologized, though he says his words, in fact, were, "It`s a baby killer," referring to the bill, not to the congressman, even though that makes almost no sense grammatically. We`re joined now by the House Majority Whip, the gentleman from the Sixth District of South Carolina, Congressman James Clyburn. Congressman, good evening.
OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:39 P.M.: Special comment ahead; the Republicans may not have met their Waterloo. Maybe it`s closer to Selma. Only they`re not the protesters at Selma.
OLBERMANN, DURING COMMERCIAL BREAK: So, having gambled everything they had on stopping health care reform, having lied, cheated and stolen and still lost, surely the republicans will change tactics now and stop the racism and the homophobia and the hatred. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Yeah. Well, we'll suggest it to them anyway in a "Special Comment."
OLBERMANN, DURING COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:48 P.M.: An appeal tonight to the Republicans and to the Tea Partiers. You bet everything you had on health care reform, and you have lost, so try something different with less spitting, less racism, less incitement to violence before you become the Whig party of 2010. A "Special Comment" next.
OLBERMANN: Finally, as promised, a "Special Comment" in the wake of the passage of health care reform. And it`s a first step, there`s a lot wrong with it, but the penalty for not paying the fine, for not buying the mandatory insurance has now been reduced to nothing. So, blessings on those who took this first step. Pat yourselves on the back. And, tomorrow morning, get back to work fixing what is still wrong with our American health care system. These remarks tonight are about our political climate in the wake of this bill`s passage.
Eight days ago, a 16-year old kid picked up a courtesy phone at a store in Washington Township, New Jersey, and announced over the public address system, quote "Attention, WalMart customers: All black people leave the store now," unquote. The boy has been arrested and charged with harassment and bias intimidation.
Two days ago, a Tea Party protestor shouted the "N" word at Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, one of the heroes of 20th Century America, and Congressman Andre Carson of Indiana. And another shouted anti-gay slurs at Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts. Capitol Hill Police confirm no arrests were made and there were no serious efforts to identify the vermin involved. Television, print, and radio news organizations will not be asked to turn over their tapes and images of the event, nor subpoenaed if necessary.
This is not to dismiss what the 16-year old did in New Jersey. But it would seem that what was shouted at the Congressmen merits at least as much investigation and hopefully as much prosecution. After all, it did occur inside the halls of Congress, a place at least as crowded as, and as sanctified as a WalMart.
But in a backwards, sick-to-my-stomach way, I would like to thank whoever shouted at Mr. Lewis and Mr. Carson for proving my previous point. If racism is not the whole of the Tea Party, it is in its heart, along with blind hatred, a total disinterest in the welfare of others, and a full- flowered, self-rationalizing refusal to accept the outcomes of elections, or the reality of democracy, or the narrowness of their minds and the equal narrowness of their public support.
On Saturday, that support came from evolutionary regressives like Michele Bachmann and Jon Voight. On a daily basis that support comes from the racists and homophobes of radio and television: the Michael Savages and the Rush Limbaughs. Shockingly, that support even comes, on a specific basis, from another Congressman, Republican Devin Nunes of the California 21st. "When you use totalitarian tactics, people, you know, begin to act crazy," he said on C-SPAN. "And I think, you know, there`s people that have every right to say what they want. If they want to smear someone, they can do it."
Congressman Nunes, you should resign. You have no business opening the door for a man like John Lewis, let alone serving alongside him. And if you shouldn`t resign for your endorsement, your encouragement, of the most vile, the most reprehensible, and the most outdated spewings of the lizard-brain part of this country, you should resign because of your total disconnect from reality. There have been no "totalitarian tactics," Congressman. People, these few, sad people, have begun to act crazy because it has been the dedicated purpose, the sole method and sole function of the Republican party, to entice them to act crazy. Those shouts against the Congressmen, Mr. Nunes, were inspired not by what people like John Lewis have done in their lives. They have been inspired by what people like you have done in the last year.
And so the far right escalates the rhetoric and the level of threat, just a little more. And worse still, it escalates the level of delusion. The election of a Democratic President is socialism. The election of a black President is an international conspiracy. The enactment of any health care reform is an apocalypse. And the willful denial of reality by the leader of the minority party in Congress is the only truth.
A willful denial, incidentally, that includes the leader of the minority party in Congress ignoring the fact that his is the minority party, and that he represents the minority, and that despite having broken all the rules of decorum in place in this nation since the end of the Civil War, that despite having played every trick, mean and low, despite having the limitless financial backing of one of the biggest cartels in the world, he and his cronies and the manufactured outrage of the Tea Party failed to derail health care reform.
Failed, Mr. Boehner! You lost. You blew it. "Shame on each and every one of you who substitutes your will and your desires above those of your fellow countrymen," you said last night just before the vote. The will and desire of your countrymen, Mr. Boehner? If you`re one of the leaders of a party that in four years coughed up the Senate Majority, coughed up the House Majority, coughed up the White House, coughed up health care reform, and along the way ignored every poll, and every election result, I would think the "will and desires of your fellow countrymen" should be pretty damn clear by now: your countrymen think your policies are of the past, and your tactics are of the gutter.
But Boehner`s teary "shame on you" over the tyranny of the vast majority taking a scrap back from the elite clueless minority, that`s just an isolated incident. Just as Congressman Neugebauer shouting "baby killer" at, or "It`s a Baby-Killer" during, Congressman Stupak`s laudable speech last night was just an isolated incident. Just as the shouting of "N" words at Congressmen Lewis and Carson was just an isolated incident. Just as the spitting on Congressman Cleaver was just an isolated incident. Just as the abuse of Congressman Frank was just an isolated incident. Just as the ethnic slurs shouted at Congressman Rodriguez of Texas was just an isolated incident. Just as the oinking by Congressman Wilson during the President`s address was just an isolated incident. Just as whatever`s next will be just an isolated incident. You know what they call it when you have a once-a-week series of isolated incidents? They call it two things. They call it a "pattern" and in the United States of 2010 they call it "the Republican Party."
American political parties have disappeared before. They are never forced out by their rivals. They die by their own hands only because they did not know that the hatred or the myopia or the monomania they thought was still okay wasn`t okay, any more. And so I offer this olive branch to the defeated Republicans and Tea Partiers. It is a cold olive branch. It is scarred. There aren`t many olives on it, but it still counts. You are rapidly moving from "The Party of No," past "The Party Of No Conscience," towards "The Party of No Relevancy." You are behind the wheel of a political Toyota. And before the midterms, you will have been reduced to only being this generation`s home for the nuts.
You will be the flat earthers, the isolationists, the segregationists, the John Birchers. Stop. Certainly you must recognize the future is with the humane, the inclusive, the diverse. It is with America. Not the America of 1910, but the America of 2010. Discard this dangerous, separatist, elitist, backward-looking rhetoric, and you will be welcomed back into the political discourse of this nation. But continue with it, and you will destroy yourselves and whatever righteous causes you actually believe in. And on the way, you will damage this country in ways and manners untold.
But even that damage will not be permanent. Faubus, and the MacNamara Brothers, and Bull Connor, and Lindbergh, and Joe McCarthy damaged this nation. We survived and they were swept away by history. You cannot destroy this country, no matter how hard you seem to be trying to, nor can you destroy this country`s inexorable march towards the light. The Belgian Nobel Prize winner Maurice Maeterlinck once wrote that, quote, "at every cross-roads on the path that leads to the future, tradition has placed 10,000 men to guard the past." Last night those 10,000 men fell. Good night and good luck.
- Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center.