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Did Keith Olbermann Target Sarah Palin for Assassination?

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Posted on August 19 2009 9:20 am
David Forsmark is the owner and president of Winning Strategies, a full service political consulting firm in Michigan. David has been a regular columnist for Frontpage Magazine since 2006. For 20 years before that, he wrote book, movie and concert reviews as a stringer for the Flint Journal, a midsize daily newspaper.

Keith Olbermann is worried about “violent” rhetoric, even if it’s in “code.” Unless it comes out of his own mouth, that is.

Last night, MSNBC blowhards Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz yowled about Joe the Plumber’s blustering after a question about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in which Joe said that when he was a kid, people who lied and stole money usually got taken “behind the woodshed” and “slapped upside the head.”

Shultz called it “dangerous psycho talk,” and said it was particularly bad at a time when “hate speech is on the rise.”

Olbermann, similarly horrified, brought up Timothy McVeigh and wondered whether it had ever occurred to Joe that this was “an endorsement of violence.”

Of course, both have been crying wolf about the violent tendencies of town hall protesters for weeks, enough to link to hours of video here. However, there is no proof that either was troubled by actual riots on the Left by anti-WTO protesters who trashed several cities in the past decade. Tut tut, they let their idealism get the better of them, yadda yadda.

When abortionist George Tiller, one of the few partial-birth-abortion practitioners in the country was shot, the fact that pro-lifers had pointed to the brutality of inducing a breach birth before piercing a baby’s head and then delivering the dead body– was blamed for Tiller’s murder.

Shortly thereafter on Rachel Maddow’s show, Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer, apologized on behalf of the pro-life movement (that had never heard of him) for Tiller’s murder. He blamed his father for noting the similarities of eugenic goals between the Nazis and the abortion-rights movement, as responsible for current rhetoric. (The fact that Nazis regularly wrote for Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s publications should apparently be whitewashed from history. Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion mill in the United States, and Sanger, in addition to being a radical feminist and a Marxist, advocated eugenics.)

For her August 7th show, Maddow dragged Shaeffer back from obscurity to comment on the town hall protesters.

MADDOW: Do you think that calling the President a Nazi, calling the President Hitler is an implicit call for politically motivated violence?

SCHAEFFER: Yes I do. In fact this rings a big bell with me because my dad, who was a right wing evangelical leader wrote a book called A Christian Manifesto which sold over a million copies, and in that book he compared anyone who was pro-abortion to the Nazi Germans and he said that using force to overthrow the Nazis would have been appropriate for Christians, including the assassination of Hitler… and that has been a note that the right wing movement—that my father and I helped start in the evangelical context—all the way.

So what’s really being said here is two messages: There is the message to these middle-aged white people who are trying to shut these meetings down, but there is also a coded message to the what I would call the loony tunes, the frootloops out there on the side that’s really like playing Russian roulette ah ah ah you put a bullet in the chamber, spin and once in a while it goes off. We saw that with Dr. Tiller, we’ve seen it happen numerous times in this country with violence against political leaders whether it’s Martin Luther King or whoever it might be, we have a history of being a well-armed violent country… and these people [the right wing] can be organized to go out and do dreadful things.

While Schaeffer claims to be a “founder” of the Christian Right, (his claims are effectively demolished here), his coming out party as one of the “pro-life leaders” endorsing Obama in 2008 got him considerably less than 15 more minutes of fame. In fact, outside of the Huffington Post and MSNBC, he garnered less press coverage than that other wannabe giant of the movement, Douglas Kmiec.

The title of Shaeffer’s memoir trashing his parents and their work, Crazy for God, is probably two words too long, and many doubt the stability of a man who has seemingly written from every side of the political and Christian spectrum and whose chief characteristic seems to be savaging the side he just left. While Schaeffer no doubt had a bigger impact on the beginnings of the pro-life movement among evangelicals than, say, I did, that still doesn’t exactly make him another Jerry Falwell—despite his delusional boast that “without my father, Dr. C. Everett Koop and myself, there would be no pro-life movement.”

Maddow expresses all the appropriate horror at calling people who aren’t conservatives “fascists” or “Nazis.” Maddow, however, has no problem with fellow MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, whose first claim to fame after being fired by ESPN and Fox Sports Net for being loony was that he called Whitewater Special Prosecutor Ken Starr a “persecutor” whose face reminded him “of [Nazi] Heinrich Himmler, including the glasses.” But then, Starr was prosecuting an impeached President, not merely aborting babies, so that’s acceptable rhetoric.

And nowadays, that bit of bombast would hardly make Olbermann’s top ten list of offenses.

Last week, in a particularly demented Special Comment, Olbermann called Sarah Palin a “clear and present danger to the nation.”

OLBERMANN: Finally, as promised, a Special Comment on this terrible moment in American history, and those unfortunate and irresponsible Americans who have brought us to it.

Right, Keith, people yelling at members of Congress, and ObamaCare losing in the polls. It’s right up there with Antietam, Tarawa, and Pearl Harbor.

OLBERMANN: [to Palin] Madam, you are a clear and present danger to the safety and security of this nation. Whether the ‘death panel’ is something you dreamed, or something you dreamed-up, whether it is the product of a low intellect and a fevered imagination, or the product of a high intelligence and a sober ability to exploit people, you should be ashamed of yourself for having introduced it into the public discourse, and it should debar you, for all time, from any position of responsibility or trust in the governance of this nation or any of its states or municipalities….

And you might as well have told the vast unthinking throng that mistakes your ability to wink for leadership, that they should start shooting at Democrats. There would be no need to tell them to bring guns. Others have done that. Somebody left his at an Arizona Town Hall…

The only ‘death panels,’ Ms. Palin, are the figurative ones you have inspired with such irresponsible, dangerous, facile, vile, hate speech. The death of common sense. The death of logic.The death, perhaps, of Democracy, at the hands of mob rule. If someone is hurt at one of these Town Halls, pro-Reform, anti-Reform, or, most likely, as these things tend to play out in the real life you know so little about, Ms. Palin — if the hurt befalls an innocent bystander —you will have contributed to the harm.

You might very well become, Ms. Palin, the very thing you have sought to create in the lurid imaginations of those spoiling for a fight, waiting for an excuse, looking for a rationalization of their own hatred, their own racism, their own unwillingness to accept Democracy. You, Ms. Palin, may yet become the de facto chairman of a Death Panel. Your higher calling, Ms. Palin. God forgive you, Ms. Palin.

While the phrase “clear and present danger” was first used by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. as a legal reason to suppress speech in wartime (and even to consider it treasonous) today It’s more commonly used as a justification for lethal force—usually military–against an imminent threat to the nation. John F. Kennedy famously used it in his speech to the nation at the beginning of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

One does not have to read between the lines or look for “code” to find a call for violence there.

When the Democrats call the town hall protesters violent mobsters, or President Obama tells his side to “get in the face” of the other side, or brags about “the Chicago way,” when confronting political opponents, is that encouraging this?

So far, the only violence committed at townhall meetings outside the fevered imaginations of the Left has been by pro-Obama union thugs against peaceful attendees.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for a Maddow or Olbermann rant condemning that.

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