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Olbermann Watch sat down recently with clear-thinker Ken Berwitz who co-authored the new book, The Hopelessly Partisan Guide To American Politics with left-winger and honorary OlbyLoon, Barry Sinrod, a member of moveon.org.
We asked Ken if he could apply the research in his book to help us better understand those afflicted with OlbyLoon Disorder, those disturbed people known the world over as "OlbyLoons".
OlbyWatch: You did not actually study OlbyLoons per se but your book surveys attitudes and opinions of Republicans and Democrats and reports the conclusions you and Barry drew from the data. Can we use some your work to better understand OlbyLoons?
Berwitz: When I wrote The Hopelessly Partisan Guide To American Politics I did not realize that the information we gathered would be so instrumental in understanding Keith Olbermann and his loyal following. But having taken a good look at the findings, I now realize that it offers a treasure trove of insight.
OlbyWatch: Let's start with hygiene. OlbyLoons spend a great deal of time in the bathtub in order to emulate their hero, Keith Olbermann. What did you learn about the bathing habits of OlbyLoons.
Berwitz: In "Hopelessly Partisan" we learned that, as a group, Democrats are less hygienic than Republicans. If Keith Olbermann spends a lot of time in the bathtub he may be trying to compensate and bring up the Democratic average. On the other hand, has anyone checked to see if he puts water in the bathtub? Maybe he likes the echo effect of dry porcelain, and stays in there to scream things like "BUSH CAN GO TO HELL" and "CUT AND RUN" in the hope that they will reverberate and sound like many people are screaming with him.
OlbyWatch: Where in the U.S. do OlbyLoons feel most at home? Least?
Berwitz: Both Democrats and Republicans agree that the city...among ten major cities around the USA...they would hate to live in is New York. And Olbermann, if I'm not mistaken, lives there.
Now this could present a bit of a problem for Olbermann hardliners. New York is one of the most liberal cities in the country. Yet they hate to live there. This appears to mean that the key reason they hate to live there is that THEY'RE there.
Is it possible that self-hate causes Olbermann himself to do an hour of virtually nonstop hatred every evening? Has anyone ever seen this man happy? He's one of the only people I ever saw who looks pissed off even when he smiles. The man works so hard at looking angry that if he ever has botox injections he can make an insurance claim for anger management treatment.
Another possible explanation is that Olbermann suffers from an advanced case of O'Reillytis, This is a rare affliction characterized by pathological hatred of tall Irish men who consistently triple one's viewership.
OlbyWatch: OlbyLoons, often unable to apply logic in an argument, resort to vituperation. Why?
Berwitz: In "Hopelessly Partisan", we see that Republicans tend to use less offensive language now than they did years ago. Democrats, on the other hand, tend to use as much or more offensive language as they did in years past.
Among the general Democratic populace, this probably is due to their decade-long losing streak in congressional elections. But for Olbermann fans in particular, it may be that they consider themselves and their positions so superior to those who disagree with them that they curse uncontrollably when voters demonstrate a preference for such lower-quality views. Sociologists might tell you that people who suffer from this level of self-defined superiority consider themselves "olbermenschen".
OlbyWatch: What words do clear-thinking readers feel best describe OlbyLoons?
Berwitz: This is a tough call. The book did not ask specifically about Olbermann fanatics. But it did ask how members of each party characterize members of the other.
When Republicans...and we can safely assume that there are few "OlbyLoons" among them...are asked for words to describe Democrats, among their more choice selections are "knee-jerk liberals", "ignorant". "dumb",, "stupid", "idiots", "liars", "tree-huggers", "wimps", "loonies" and "whackos. If you think this is bad, you should see what Democrats call Republicans...but...if you want to see it you're going need to buy the book!
OlbyWatch: You asked about elevator etiquette in your survey. Where would you expect Keith Olbermann to come down on this vital issue? How about the OlbyLoons?
Berwitz: The research we conducted for "Hopelessly Partisan" shows that Democrats are more likely to stand in the front of an empty elevator, while Republicans are more likely to move to the rear.
I speculate that Olbermann would prefer the front as well, because it would enable him to block access to someone who looked like he/she might have traditional American values or opposing political views. Mom and dad from Wichita would wind up waiting for another elevator to come. And if a swiftboat veteran tried to get on, he'd be lucky not to have to fight off a physical assault. By contrast, I am guessing Olbermann would back off and maybe even bow in honor if, say, Paul Begala or David Gregory were getting on. And if it were Cindy Sheehan and Lynne Stewart? He'd probably be asking for their autograph and begging for a date.
OlbyWatch: Thank you for your time. Olbermann Watch readers can purchase a copy of The Hopelessly Partisan Guide To American Politics by visiting our new OlbyWatch Bookstore.