Liberal reality reflected in Lincoln blunder and lesser network’s defense of bad history.
Silly, at first glance.
The proverbial tempest in a tea pot.
Yet as small and silly things can sometimes do, the scuffle between MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and Abraham Lincoln ( of all people) has wound up opening a window onto an infinitely larger issue of the day.
If Glenn Beck’s new novel The Overton Window is based on the real-life political theory that a range of public policies can be acceptable at a given moment in time, what the Lincoln incident has uncovered is what might be called, with apologies to both the late political scientist Joseph Overton and Mr. Beck…The Olbermann Window.
And what exactly does one gaze upon if one looks through The Olbermann Window?
The American left’s gushing loss of credibility, now spewing out into the waters of American politics from once presumed sturdy platforms in the media, the Congress and most notably the Obama administration itself.
In case you missed it, the Olbermann-Lincoln kerfuffle began late last week with a recent and innocent venture through the MSNBC looking glass by, as they say, your humble correspondent. First discussed here in a simple blog posting, my trip to the world of Mr. Olbermann’s Countdown revealed him to be…how shall I say…less than accurate in telling of Abraham Lincoln’s electoral history. His objective was to ridicule Nevada GOP Senate candidate and Harry Reid opponent Sharron Angle. Instead, he wound up looking…ahhhh…grossly misinformed. Ridiculous, actually. Simple facts wrong, basic history wrong, attitude deliciously and smugly right because the first two were so glaringly wrong. My blog post speaks for itself, and includes the Countdown segment that caught my attention.
The item was seen and picked up by Daniel Foster over at The Corner on National Review Online, who cited it in a piece titled “Olbermann Don’t Know Much About History,” found here.
As I was busy settling into a social evening here in the wilds of Pennsylvania — ironically with a group that included an Olbermann fan — Mr. Olbermann was busy naming Daniel Foster his “Worst Person in the News” for citing my piece and taking Olbermann’s understanding of Abraham Lincoln’s electoral record to task. The fact that Foster beat out Olbermann’s favorite targets Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly for top “Worst Person” honors may speak to the…ahhhhh…. sensitivity of the Keithster when it comes to being caught out on a factual error of some note. In the course of taking Foster and National Review to task, Olbermann referred to my original posting as that appearing on a “lesser blog.”
The irony of being the Person of a Lesser Blog addressed by a Person of a Lesser Network amuses. But I digress.
My colleague Phil Klein caught up with this moving circus, and, a serious Lincoln fan himself, was kind enough to post over the weekend, as seen here. He also included a link to Olbermann’s Foster fury, which you can see here.
Now let’s be candid. There’s no point baiting poor Keith on this. He tried to squirm off the political hook on which he impaled himself quite voluntarily and with great fanfare by saying he meant popular elections, implying that candidate Angle had said the same. She didn’t, of course. She simply observed in passing that Lincoln had lost “a few” — clearly meaning elections. This was and is true. The fact that his lost elections for U.S. Senator (two, in 1854 and 1858) were in legislative balloting as then required by the Constitution doesn’t make them any less elections. And yes, per Lincoln biographers he actively campaigned for and sought votes for Congress in 1842. And lost. As was true of that 1856 vice-presidential nomination.
But Mr. Olbermann has bravely cited his membership in an organization that celebrates Mr. Lincoln, America’s greatest president behind Lincoln’s fellow conservative president Ronald Reagan (according to Gallup last year, that was 24% Reagan, 22% Lincoln.) So God bless Keith Olbermann’s curmudgeonly soul for admitting he admires a conservative president right out there on MSNBC’s air time. Not to mention admitting he belongs to a group honoring that conservative president. Decidedly a Bold and Fresh thing of him to do.
The organization, by the way, is the Abraham Lincoln Association. That would be the same Abraham Lincoln Association that honored Lincoln biographer and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin as a guest speaker in 2006. No right-winger she, Ms. Kearns wrote a fabulous Lincoln book Team of Rivals. A book in which, alas for Keith, this Lincoln Association favorite author cites Lincoln seeking to “win the endorsement” of his home county convention for Congress in 1842 — with Lincoln remarking after losing that another candidate had “beat me.” How one can be beaten for anything — hence losing — yet never run is a mystery that Olbermann can perhaps explain to historian and Lincoln Association favorite Goodwin. Who also cites Lincoln as receiving “47 votes” in “ballots” cast for Senator by the Illinois legislature for Senator in 1854 and…..
Enough. You get the picture.
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