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Last night Keith Olbermann took the occasion of the five year anniversary 9/11 to launch into a fact-challenged harangue of President Bush and call for his impeachment from a vantage point looking down on Ground Zero. I write about KO quite a bit on this site and normally even his most idiotic remarks don't phase me because I know he is a fool and so give his words the weight they deserve - none. But spending 9 minutes blaming Bush for the fact that Freedom Tower has not been competed is offensive on many levels. That Keith wants to wrap himself in the "flag" of "I lost friends that day" (does he even HAVE friends?) to do it makes me want to throw up. Only Keith Olbermann would USE the tragic death of his "friends" to attempt to insulate himself from criticism in blaming President Bush for the delays in rebuilding on the WTC site when it is patently false.
He picked up the theme of the piece - "a hole in the ground" - after establishing his "I breathed in the remains of my friends" bona-fides:
"...of all the things those of us who were here five years ago could have forecast -- of all the nightmares that unfolded before our eyes, and the others that unfolded only in our minds -- none of us could have predicted this. Five years later this space is still empty, there is no memorial to the dead, there is no building rising to show with proud defiance that we would not have our America wrung from us, by cowards and criminal, this country's wound is still open, this country's mass grave is still unmarked, this is still just a background for a photo-op.
OK, OK. We get the point. Keith thinks it's "shameful" that the Freedom Tower and 9/11 Memorial have not been completed five years after 9/11. Big deal. I don't know of anyone who is happy about it so what new ground is KO covering here?
Keith next goes on to contrast this with the Gettysburg Memorial which was dedicated "barely four months after the last soldier staggered from another Pennsylvania field". As with much of what KO says when he is demagoging an issue, this sounds like a great point unless you know the facts.
Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address at the dedication for the Soldiers' National Cemetery not the "Gettysburg Memorial". There is no "Gettysburg Memorial". There is a "Soldiers National Monument" in the center of the cemetery but that was not dedicated until July 1, 1869. The cemetery itself was not completed until 1872. Only the Union soldiers were buried there; the last of the 3,512 Union dead were not buried in the Soldiers' National Cemetery until March of 1864. The last of the Confederate soldiers were not reburied until 1877. In fact, if you look at any of the photos from that day (November 19, 1863) you will see that Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address in the middle of an open field (the field on which the battle was fought) where they were PREPARING to build the cemetary and monument.
I'm surprised that Keith failed to lambaste that "no good" Lincoln for lolly-gagging around Washington, DC for FOUR MONTHS while the bodies of Union soldiers lay rotting in that Pennsylvania field. As we all know, Bush waited much longer to make his way to New York. Right? The more you know about that Lincoln the worse it gets. Did you know that Lincoln did not even authorize the creation of a soldier's cemetery? A private citizen purchased the 17 acres on his own initiative and invited Lincoln to speak as an after-thought.
The dedication ceremony where Lincoln spoke was more akin to a "ribbon-cutting ceremony" than a "grand opening" - the Union dead were cleared from the battlefield and put in their final resting place about 9 months after the battle (four months after Lincoln's address). The monument was dedicated six YEARS after the Battle of Gettysburg. The cemetery was completed nine years after the battle and the last soldier was interred in his final resting place 14 years after the battle.
Keith's next words - "our leaders could use those same words (Lincoln's at Gettysburg) to rationalize their reprehensible inaction. "We cannot dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground." So we won't." - lose their punch when you realize that the effort to erect the Freedom Tour and a 9/11 memorial are moving ahead FASTER than the work at Gettysburg. In fact, the "ribbon-cutting ceremony" for the 9/11 memorial took place two years ago.
He says of the leaders "they bicker and buck pass. They thwart private efforts, and jostle to claim credit for initiatives that go nowhere". I am not sure who "they" are here but among those who have held up the redevelopment of the WTC site have been the 9/11 families. Is Keith attacking them? What "private efforts" are the "leaders" thwarting? Who is claiming credit for what initiatives? Does "they" mean the politicians who have had the lead in the redevelopment - Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Pataki and the three recent New Jersey governors (all Democrats)?
Not bothering to connect the dots, Keith makes a left turn into Iraq, out to an aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego and then back to DC for a quick how-do-you-do for Armstrong Williams:
"They spend the money on irrelevant wars, and elaborate self-congratulations, and buying off columnists to write how good a job they're doing instead of doing any job at all".
Presumably this is an attack on the Bush administration. How he makes the leap from the politics of rebuilding the WTC site to the Iraq war is a mystery known only to OlbyLoons.
With his neurons firing in every direction, Keith eloquently ties together these random strands of Bush-hatred by concluding, beyond all logic, that every day that passes without the Freedom Tower and 9/11 memorial means "the terrorists are clearly, still winning."
As Keith likes to pretend he is a part-time logician maybe he is drawing on some complex theory of reasoning that only he and dolphins can understand.
Not satisfied with these contortions, Keith summersaults, then pirouettes before landing a triple-gainer, squarely on a stage of his own imagination, accusing Bush of having committed "a crime against every victim here" because the President did not intervene and FORCE the various parties to rebuild the WTC site in time for Keith's live shot from Ground Zero.
I am going to skip over KO's standard "Bush squandered unity" tripe except to note that just last month KO and his OlbyLoon pals made quite a point of attacking Joe Lieberman for responding to that very same national desire for unity that Keith now so cherishes.
With the site directly behind him, Keith contains himself long enough to recall that his rant began with a "hole in the ground" theme. In righteous anger, this Elmer Gantry of the cable news set shrieks "Not once in now five years has this President ever offered to assume responsibility for the failures that led to this empty space" before swerving like a vision-impaired drunk straight into the "Path to 9/11", all to advance the rather odd notion that Bush is somehow responsible for programming at a rival television network - and not Fox News.
Having spent the past hour in front of a backdrop of Ground Zero, spinning "9/11" like a it was a roulette wheel, Olbermann challenges Bush:
"How dare you -- or those around you -- ever "spin" 9/11?"
Apparently the irony was lost on KO for he returned to yet another previous theme to proclaim the "the terrorists have succeeded -- are still succeeding -- as long as there is no memorial and no construction here at Ground Zero."
Now at this point, any channel surfers stumbling upon this OlberBaffoonery might be forgiven for thinking they'd wandered into a bad episode of The Twilight Zone. So what must these poor souls made of Keith then citing an episode of that very same show.
Keith closes on with a "brilliant" sent of rhetorical questions designed to round out his "hole in the ground" theme:
"...look into this empty space behind me and the bi-partisanship upon which this administration also did not build, and tell me: Who has left this hole in the ground?
Again, all of this only seems to make sense only if you don't know the facts.
As anyone who lives in the New York area can tell you (and Keith does) rebuilding at Ground Zero has been held up for many reasons and that none of them have anything to do with President Bush.
First, it was 9 months before they removed all the debris from the site (I was there for that ceremony in June 2002, where were you Keith?).
Second, there was a major issue over insurance - whether the owner of the property on which the WTC was built could collect and how much. Until that money was paid out there was no money to finance any work on the site. An OlbyWatch readers notes "The dispute over the insurance settlement came about because the property owner claimed the attacks were two seperate events, while the insurers said it was a single attack, and therefore worth just half the money claimed. There were also concerned with how to replace the lost office space from WTC 1 and 2, when eight of the 16 acres at the site are to be reserved for the memorial (a problem mostly since solved with the purchase of the damaged Deutsch Bank building that was contaminated beyond repair on 9/11)."
Third, the WTC itself was not privately owned but sat on private property which was leased from a private company. The WTC was owned and operated by the Port Authority which is a special type of entity - an "authority" that is set up to be independent of the government(s) that create it. In this case the Port Authority was created by the states of New Jersey and New York. That same reader adds "The Port Authority authorization to assume the lead role in the site's rebirth came with a quid pro quo - agreeing to finance a new rail tunnel from New Jersey (via Keith's MSNBC stop in Secaucus) to midtown Manhattan which had nothing to do with WTC site. The officials there didn't want New York to be the sole beneficiary of all the PA's attention (in a similar way, New Jersey required the PA to buy the bankrupted PATH train system in 1962 before they would let them buy the WTC site and build the towers in the first place, so this is a long-standing interstate rivalry).
Fourth, the WTC site is in New York City and in New York State and, as noted above, involved New Jersey as well. So, any rebuilding had to get the approval of the Mayor of New York City and various city agencies, the Governor of New York State and various state agencies, the Governor of New Jersey and various state agencies, the insurance companies and banks and the property owner (Larry Silverstein). There was also the small issue of figuring out who might want to be a tenant in a building that will become the terrorists #1 target on the day it opens. As some may recall, during this period, the Governor of New Jersey was somewhat preoccupied with various scandals and ultimately resigned over a personal scandal at which point an interim Governor took over, and then New Jersey elected Job Corzine governor. And, of course, you had all of the familes of the victims which organized into various groups - all of which had some gripe with some aspect of the plan. No politican was prepared to get into a fight with the families. Then there was the city planning people, the architectural review board. Pretty much every state and city agency and every community group in the tri-state area wanted a say in what happened at the WTC site.
As noted above, there was a bricklaying ceremony - similar to what happened at Gettysburg in November, 1863 - in 2004 and they were finally ready to begin work but then the project ran into more problems.
First, the NYPD and the FBI rejected the plan due to security concerns.
Second, the plan included building a "tolerance" museum museum that became a hodge-podge of competing, politically-correct themes which somehow managed to bring in Martin Luther King, American Indians, and various "aggrieved" peoples from around the world. The only entrance to the memorial for the victims was through the tolerance museum which was basically an homage to left-wing propaganda (you lefites might not like that characterization but whatever you call it the idea that the site would do anything other than simply honor the people who died at the site did not sit well with many, many people). The tolerance museum was eventually scrapped and so a new plan was created that took that out and addressed the security concerns.
Finally, after all this, came the Freedom Tower design and a plan that was approved by all of the required parties (not that everyone is happy because many, including some families, are still complaining). Meanwhile, other buildings AROUND the actual site of the two towers (the WTC was, I think, actually SEVEN buildings), were being built. Some of them have been completed. They also had to first rebuild the PATH trains and subway station underneath the site (one of the largest commuter rail transportation hubs in the country). Once that was done they had to rebuild the "bathtub", the retaining walls that keep the Hudson River from rushing into the excavacted site.
Somehow none of this reality fit neatly into KO's anti-Bush screed.
Now, Keith Olbermann lives in New York. And any New Yorker with half a brain knows all about this because it is in the newspapers and on TV every friggin' day. So, how is that Keith can go on TV, broadcasting live from the site, and put forward the absolutely aburd, completely disingenuous notion that President Bush is responsible for the current state of the WTC site?
So, I ask you Keith. Have you no decency, sir? Have you no shame?
Do you crave higher ratings so badly you would throw away whatever shred of credibility you once had as a sportscaster?
Look in the mirror Keith, you have become that which you claim to despise - a demagogue.
Who has left this hole in your integrity?
We have not forgotten, Mr. Olbermann.
May the people who once considered you a journalist forgive you.