Don Davis

Could Olbermann Primary Obama?

Filed By Don Davis | August 05, 2011 8:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Democrats, election campaigns, Olbermann, politics, Primary, White House

Keith_Olbermann_-_small.jpgIt was just a couple of nights ago that Keith Olbermann was challenging us, in one of his "Special Comments", to rise up in the streets and take back this country. He pointed out that the only way those on the left were going to be able to fight against those who are looking to get all "Tea Party" is to be as angry and as organized and as aggressive as the Tea Party community, and if we're smart, we'll take him up on that challenge. But if you really want to push "professional" Democrats to the left, most especially this President, and you want to do it in time to impact the '12 cycle, the only way to do it is to run a candidate in primary contests that either moves the conversation your way...or leaves you with a surprising new candidate. And right here, right now, we actually have a chance to do exactly that - and that's why, in today's discussion, I'm going to challenge Olbermann right back.
"Then white men began to fence the plains so that we could not travel; and anyhow there was...nothing to travel for. We began to stay in one place, and to grow lazy and sicker all the time. Our men had fought hard against our enemies, holding them back from our beautiful country by their bravery, but now with everything else going wrong, we began to be whipped by their weak foolishness..." --Pretty Shield, of the Crow Nation, quoted in the book "The Native Americans: An Illustrated History"
So imagine, if you will, how the political conversation would be different right now if this President was facing a primary challenge from an unabashed Lefty. Let's go further: just imagine how things would be different over at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or over at the Capitol if someone announced they were running against this President from the left - and on the day that person announced, they had 15-20% of the Democratic electorate in their pocket, with an increasingly unpopular President on the other side. Now imagine if that person had no qualms about "pooping in the Democratic pool", and was willing to call out the Party establishment for having let the Nation down in so many different ways these past couple years, which would presumably make that candidate very interesting to those who support the interests of Labor, just to give one example. And most importantly of all, imagine if this President, having just caved, again, for a second, and, soon, a third round of Republican hostage-taking (and facing a fourth in January of 2013), had to face a riled-up and articulate opponent on a debate stage. Of course, for that to happen, you'd need a credible figure with national recognition, and in this environment, it wouldn't hurt if that person wasn't too closely associated with either Washington or the existing political parties. (All of this would also make that candidate interesting to centrist voters as well; you'll recall that the '08 Obama Campaign appealed to many centrist voters for many of the same reasons.) It also wouldn't hurt if that person looked like a President, and even better, if that person was entirely familiar with the world of television. So think about all that for a minute...and after you do, consider this: is there anyone else out there that you'd rather see primarying this President than Keith Olbermann? Now let me take a minute and talk directly to you, Mr. Olbermann: I know you said that it's time for us to get organized and angry, but in this media world, if you don't have Astroturf to get your movement off the ground, you need a celebrity with respect in all the right places, and that describes you pretty well. Movements need to raise money, and if you were to go out there and do a week of hustling, I'll bet you could raise seed money from both the "Left Coast" and "Upper West Side" communities (and you might even be able to hit your boss up for a donation); you could also draw a lot of PAC money (Labor, for starters, the gAyTM, for another) and lots of individual, enthusiastic, Internet contributions - and what happens to the political conversation if the Olbermann Campaign begins to raise money at a pace that puts The Fear on the Obama Campaign? Al Gore took a big risk, and a made a big financial commitment besides, when he decided to bring you over to Current, and I don't want you to have to worry about what's going to happen over there; with that in mind I'm going to suggest that we ask Michael Moore to step in to take the wheel for a short time, at the same time you let Schuster run the actual newsgathering operation, so that we know you'll be able to come back to something that has been in pretty good hands.
"...(baseball is) our national pastime, that is if you discount political campaigning." --Ronald Reagan
Before you dismiss this idea out of hand, Keith (can I call you Keith?), I want you to think about one thing, and I want you to think about this very, very, carefully: You know what happens to those lucky few who actually make it through a Presidential campaign and win? They get to throw out the first pitch of the new baseball season - at least four times. You could take a few months out of what you have done so well and really change the direction of this nation's politics, and you could think of it as a patriotic duty- but it would also be an incredible learning experience, and you'd come back to your own job with an understanding of the inner workings of realpolitik that very few on television could ever match...and after it's over, since you wouldn't be running again, you could actually talk about "where the bodies are buried" in a way no one else can. Maybe you're thinking: "How can I be credible if I have no real ability to run a government?" The answer can be found, literally, right here. The Blogosphere is entirely capable of providing the appointees who would run a Government - after all, we have experts, including a Nobel laureate, to run an economy (Secretary of the Treasury Paul Krugman? Robert Reich for Council of Economic Advisors?), and folks like Lawrence Wilkerson who could take over at State...and I could go on and on and on, all the way down to my man Marshall Adame, who, I promise you, has all the training and skills we would need to ramrod the actual physical process of withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan (you'll find him at BlueNC; on his resume is a stint running the Basra Airport, a couple of decades as a Marine logistician, and an unsuccessful run for Congress). And it's not like you would be more subject to scrutiny than you are now: virtually every hard-right Conservative out there already sees you as the Devil incarnate - and that's actually an advantage in this situation that can't be ignored. So...whaddaya think? You want to go from making Special Comments about how The Fear has overtaken Democrats to being the one who puts The Fear upon them? You wanna drive Grover Norquist and Steny Hoyer absolutely nuts, both at the same time? You want to finally do what Craig Nettles got to do, that you never did: play baseball and join the circus? Well, here's your chance to do something that could change the whole political conversation - and before we're done, President Obama might even find those "comfortable shoes" we've heard so much about. So let's take one for America, and let's get this thing on the hump, or whatever cliché you prefer...but let's do it now, and let's do it well, and let's create something that brings the "discouraged" public to bear in a way they aren't today. This is your chance to do something big, something profound...something that takes your "diva tendencies" and plays them to their best advantage...and I think it's time for you to get behind this idea -- before, as you suggested could happen, the window to fight back closes.

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What a well-written, logically communicated article. Only thing that could be improved upon is the fact that Keith could actually win. I sensed that the article was telling Olbermann to run in order to motivate Obama to back-off from the precipice of the Religious Right. Keith could actually win! And what an entertaining spectacle it would be for our Hero Man to debate the likes of any Right-Wing-Nut-Candidate such as M. Bachmann.

you have a good point here, and the big deal for olbermann is name recognition.

it's going to hurt him at first in some quarters...but could you imagine keith olbermann and michelle bachmann on a debate stage?

before it was over i'm highly confident that olbermann could get the words "gaydar", "husband", and "hypocrite" all combined into one sentence...and at that point, i'm pretty sure bachmann's head would explode.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | August 5, 2011 11:36 AM

I absolutely LOVE Keith Obermann.

But the chances of a scenario of a general election fight between him and Michelle is the stuff of special effects laden fictional fantasy.

But all of us need a diversion once in a while.

you know, i did write this story with the goal of backing off obama - but the fact is that if olbermann could get to a presidential debate stage, obama would be in a lot of trouble...and olbermann has the name recognition, for good or ill, that you have to have to get a campaign off the ground.

Obama has spent years trying to look like Bush2 with a rainbow scarf covering up the little swastikas embroidered on his necktie.

Our nation stands on the brink of a great cultural civil war. One is reminded of James Buchanan's inability to cope with the burning issues of his day.

i feel like i want to back away from the nazi talk, but you do well note that we have a president who is so far unwilling to end the secret prison and rendition programs, even as he supports extensions of fisa and the patriot act.

i do not understand why he does this; it's bad policy and bad politics, both at the same time, and it seems to me that if something doesn't change he's going to be in a lot of trouble in '12...and if we have no better options, so are we.

one more comment: i am also thinking a lot about the parallels between the 1850s and now (one example: it seems like the descendants of the "fire-eaters" of the 1850s and '60s are the tea party of today), and you do well deserve "big ups" for managing to point that out and work in a james buchanan reference at the same time.

knowing your history.
it's a good thing.

Obama has spent years trying to look like Bush2 with a rainbow scarf covering up the little swastikas embroidered on his necktie.

Our nation stands on the brink of a great cultural civil war. One is reminded of James Buchanan's inability to cope with the burning issues of his day.