Over at Daily Kos, Keith Olbermann has written what we like to call over there a GBCW (Goodbye Cruel World) diary. Well, maybe more a Goodbye, for now. Why? Because he’s was getting devoured over there for his largely negative reaction to President Obama’s oval office speech on the Gulf Oil Spill. On MSNBC he was the anchor who reacted first and he skewered the President for a lack of details, a lack of a rallying cry, a lack of, dare we say it – emotion and anger. Rachel Maddow followed up in her hour with her own criticisms and then last night she even delivered her own “Fake Oval Office address” giving the speech she wished she had heard Tuesday night. While I do not agree with all of their point – I DO love that they expressed themselves. Why is that such a huge deal? So the President gets criticized from his own side of the aisle – or from media who represent that side (whether officially or unofficially)? Yes, I watch their shows because they do represent my point of view most closely than anyone else in the media. I happen to like NOT feeling like throwing things at the TV 😉 But, I sure as heck do not expect them to be mouthpieces for an administration just because he is from their side! No, I don’t watch Fox news, but I sure as heck HOPE their opinion anchors would have blasted President Bush. I don’t think they did..never heard of it at any rate…but then rumor has it that network IS a mouthpiece of the GOP – unofficially of course. If Hannity or O’Reilly DID come down hard on Bush after a speech – please share! But the overall point is that Keith & Rachel ARE opinion anchors with a definite point of view and I am very GLAD they felt free to criticize the President. Rubber stampers are boring. Yes men (and women) are dangerous for the country.
Now, as for the substance of their critiques – there were a few valid points, but I also think they were both looking at it too much from the point of view OF a DC media policy wonk and not enough from the eyes of the Average Viewer. You know – viewers not like me for instance. Viewers who *don’t* watch opinion shows or even news programs all that regularly. Viewers whose eyes would have rolled into the back of their heads if Obama had said anything close to what Rachel wanted to hear because it would have all gone right over their heads. He had to be general and measured. On the other hand, I do agree with Keith that Obama perhaps should have given the speech a day later. When he could have used the platform to announce the deal he had struck with the BP executives for the escrow and unemployment funds to be set aside. I’m not sure why Obama felt he had to speak to the country on Tuesday night specifically – especially when it was already scheduled that BP would be meeting with him Wednesday (and that they would be in congressional hearings on the Hill today). I probably would have advised that he wait to speak to the country after those meetings. But as to the whole anger/emotion thing – why? Obama has never been, and never will be, the Bill Clinton or George Bush kind of President. He isn’t going to holler & stomp & pound tables & cry with the country. In fact, I would argue that a huge part of his appeal was that he is NOT like that. He is cerebral. He is measured. He is calm. That happens to be what I like about him at any rate. I was tired of having a President elected because he was someone who the country felt like they could “sit down and have a beer with him.” The couple of times he *did* try to be like that (bowling during the campaign, the Beer Summit with the Cambridge policeman & Harvard Professor) it has come across as utterly disingenuous. So I thought that, given he gave the speech *before* meeting with BP execs, he said about all he *could* say and in the right way to the right audience. It wasn’t perfect, but it also wasn’t nearly as off the mark as the pundits thought.
Back to Daily Kos though – oh boy is that place a mess right now! Keith is being thin skinned in there, yes. He has a rather large ego for sure which certainly requires quite a bit of stroking & reassurance. Like me, when he first went to the Big Orange it was when all of us on the left were angry and had a common enemy – the Bush Administration. It was a wonderful gathering place for all of us to expend our anger & frustration and the turn that anger into something productive. But right now Daily Kos is trying to figure out what it is as a website during an administration that they helped to elect. There is no longer One Common Enemy in power. And we lefties are nothing if not World Champion navel gazers!! We can eat our own faster than anyone. We can second guess and fly off the handle like no others. While a self proclaimed pragmatist like myself is no longer angry – there are many who thrive off anger. They just need someone to be the recipient 0 anyone – not always logical of course! So with Bush/Cheney gone, they turn on Obama. Or anyone who criticizes him. Or..well..anyone in their line of fire! Unfortunately there is no in between for them. Also unfortunately, their voices are the loudest at Daily Kos right now. As such, many of us less angry types have gradually left the building (but without announcing it like Keith did – ego again). We just revert to lurking. Reading only certain writers and almost NEVER wading into the comment sections. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the big switch we’ve been waiting for to a DK4 version of the site will happen soon and that it will change the tone & focus there again.
And *that’s* the way I feel about *that* 🙂