Hypocritical Olbermann Finds It ‘Weird’ That Bush 41 Called Him ‘Sick Puppy’

Less than a week after likening conservative blogger Michelle Malkin to a “mashed-up bag of meat” on his Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann on Monday called out former President George H.W. Bush for daring to call him and fellow MSNBC host Rachel Maddow “sick puppies,” as Olbermann described Bush’s words from a recent interview as a “weird term."

As he characterized Bush as being hypocritical for making the comment while denouncing the incivility in American politics, Olbermann accused Bush of helping to create the climate of incivility himself in 1988 with the Willie Horton ad, although the ad Olbermann was referring to which showed a photograph of Horton – and which Olbermann displayed images of – was produced by an independent group, the National Security Political Action Committee. The Bush campaign never used Horton’s image, but instead ran the “Revolving Door” ad attacking Michael Dukakis’s support for a prison furlough program.

MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe, formerly of Newsweek, came aboard to discuss the issue, and, as he seemed oblivious to Olbermann's history of name-calling and over-the-top attacks on conservatives -- such as indirectly calling Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly "dogs," making a crude joke comparing Sarah Palin to a pitbull, and even calling former President George W. Bush a "fascist" -- Wolffe defended Olbermann's history of attacking former President George W. Bush. Wolffe: "But it`s neither sick nor puppy‑like to point out that invading the wrong country, leading to unnecessary thousands of deaths isn`t actually just name-calling."

After contrasting Bush 43's governing style with that of his father, Wolffe soon continued: "His son took a wholly different path and created a whole ocean full of sick puppies."

After Olbermann again linked Bush 41 to the Willie Horton ad, Wolffe ended up tying in the recent "tea party" protesters:

OLBERMANN: Would you agree that there`s no overstatement in this, that it was -- when he ran for President the first time to succeed Mr. Reagan, he was the one who turned -- he with Mr. Ailes, he with the ad for Willie Horton -- these are the men who turned the corner on to the street about which the potholes therein he’s complaining about?

WOLFFE: Well, Karl Rove didn`t come out of nothing, you know. Roger Ailes begat Lee Atwater, who begat Karl Rove and so on and so forth, and we end up with tea parties.
Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the Monday, October 19, Countdown show on MSNBC:
AUDIO CLIP OF FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH, IN OPENNG TEASER: Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, I mean, here are a couple of sick puppies.
KEITH OLBERMANN, IN OPENING TEASER: In the middle of a plea for less name‑calling in politics, President George H.W. Bush calls us names, including “horrible” and “obscene.” Rachel is obscene? Rachel isn`t obscene to inanimate objects.
...
OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:25 P.M.: Speaking of “when conservatives attack,” George H.W. Bush rips into me and Rachel. Or at least he shot outwards. But what does it say that he did so while complaining about the loss of civility towards presidents and in our political dialogue, and given that he was the one who sent that snowball rolling down the hill?

...

OLBERMANN: It`s a kind of political version of the famous cynical observation from Morty the Mortician in the movie Chinatown, “middle of a drought and the water commissioner drowns.” It`s normally not effective to complain about coarsened, below the belt dialogue, when the person voicing that complaint either abetted or launched that very kind of discourse. Nor is it particularly effective to assail name-calling by calling somebody names. In our third story on the Countdown, that is what former President George H.W. Bush did when he chose to describe me and my colleague Rachel Maddow as "sick puppies." And it`s even more unfortunate given the context. The former President making the marks on the eve of hosting President Barack Obama, who went to Texas A&M to laud Mr. Bush for his support of volunteerism and public service.

President Bush had said that President Obama, quote, "is entitled to civil treatment and intellectual honesty when it comes to critics." But in an interview with CBS Radio News, he had more to say about the tone of national discourse. Here it comes:

GEORGE H.W. BUSH AUDIO: I don`t like it. I think the cables have a lot to do with it. I’m thinking back to when I was President, we got tons of criticism, but it didn`t seem, day in and day out, quite as personal as some of these talk show people. And it`s not just the right. There are plenty of people on the left. If you want me to name a couple of names, I`ll be glad to do that for you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead.

BUSH: Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. I mean, here are a couple of sick puppies. And the way they treat my son and treat anybody that`s opposed to their point-of-view is just horrible.

OLBERMANN: The former President also said his son had been treated obscenely. It`s hard to imagine anybody more civil, less obscene that my colleague and friend Ms. Maddow. And, as I said when I called in to her show on Friday night, it`s easy to understand how the father of any President might have a blind spot when it comes to how his son was doing. But consider the pre‑W. days. In 1988, the first President Bush employed Roger Ailes as a political consultant, basically in charge of the media message. In so doing, Mr. Bush became the father of the process that took us to the place we are now. They were the men who ran the notoriously offensive, race‑baiting Willie Horton ad, when Bush was running for President in 1988 against the Democratic nominee, Michael Dukakis.

And there was the scam on Dan Rather, when then-candidate Bush pretended to be ambushed by then-anchor Rather in an interview for the CBS Evening News. It was all pre‑arranged by Mr. Bush and Mr. Ailes.

So the narrative arc goes, right on through the actual egregious non‑news from Roger Ailes` Fox News. Aides of President Obama this weekend expanding on comments by White House Communications Director Anita Dunn that Fox News basically acts as a wing of the Republican party.

RAHM EMANUEL, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: It`s not so much a conflict with Fox News. But unlike, I suppose, the way to look at it – and the way the President looks at it and we look at it, is it`s not a news organization so much as it has a perspective. And that`s a different take.

DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA ADVISOR: The only argument Anita was making is that they`re not really a news station. If you watch even – it`s not just their commentators, but a lot of their news programming. It`s really not news. It`s pushing a point-of-view. And the bigger thing is that other news organizations, like yours, ought not to treat them that way. And we`re not going to treat them that way. We`re going to appear on their shows. We`re going to participate, but understanding that they represent a point-of-view.

OLBERMANN: Let`s bring in MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe, also senior strategist at Public Strategies and author of Renegade: The Making of A President. Richard, good to see you.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be with you.

OLBERMANN: Sick puppies.

WOLFFE: Yes.

OLBERMANN: I`m glad, since Rachel and I have been both battling these respiratory things, I`m glad he’s concerned for our health. But do you decry name-calling by name-calling?

WOLFFE: Yes. Well, of course, we’ve all been called something worse than sick puppies in the last hour or two. But beyond the irony, let`s just take a step back here because, yes, it`s understandable, he’s defensive about his son. But it`s neither sick nor puppy‑like to point out that invading the wrong country, leading to unnecessary thousands of deaths isn`t actually just name-calling.

I mean, there is something substantive there about what his son did as President. And in his more reflective moments -- and I think we can all agree that the 41st President of the United States is generally a reflective person -- he should look at his own record in the Gulf War, the first Gulf War, and wonder why, not just because there were no cables in the same way -- I guess he’s not meaning underwater cables. But it wasn`t just the public discourse that led him not to face the same kind of criticism. It`s that he operated differently as President. His son took a wholly different path and created a whole ocean full of sick puppies.

OLBERMANN: Would you agree that there`s no overstatement in this, that it was -- when he ran for President the first time to succeed Mr. Reagan, he was the one who turned -- he with Mr. Ailes, he with the ad for Willie Horton -- these are the men who turned the corner on to the street about which the potholes therein he’s complaining about?

WOLFFE: Well, Karl Rove didn`t come out of nothing, you know. Roger Ailes begat Lee Atwater, who begat Karl Rove and so on and so forth, and we end up with tea parties. Yes, the discourse in politics changed. It coincided with all sorts of changes in the media. But the ads that they cut, the kind of campaigns that they established led directly to 2002 and 2004. And, you know, has it become meaner and tougher? You bet. But the politics of national security, as it was played out, was established by this group of characters. And they came out, sadly, of his own administration.

OLBERMANN: And you can hit those low points. I mean, the next one that significant, I suppose, was the campaign against Max Cleland.

WOLFFE: Right.

OLERMANN: And that’s, you know, these are the stars that shine in this dark night that President Bush is complaining about, and calling us this weird term. Explain the White House, this White House versus Fox News, the rebound effect here. A lot of them seem unhappy about that network, very unhappy. And the quote ‑‑ buried in that Rahm Emanuel quote was the way the president sees it. He’s not just saying that they sit around and Rahm Emanuel is throwing things at the screen. It`s not just him?

WOLFFE: No, it`s not just him. And it hasn`t been just him for some time. Look, this isn`t ‑‑ they’ve come to the understanding that this isn`t just about commercialism. There is something deeply twisted about what`s going on over there. And, yes, the people can dismiss this conversation as some kind of commercial rivalry.

But let`s look at how this video has just popped up about Anita Dunn and her graduation ceremony of her own son. You know, this video, which was not available for public record, happened to pop up on the Glenn Beck Show, and it`s the same school where Chris Wallace spoke the year before because his kids also went there. Was that just a coincidence, or is Fox determined to take this to another level? That`s not about news. It`s about personal attacks. Look, they may enjoy it for all sorts of commercial reasons.

OLBERMANN: Yeah.

WOLFFE: But it goes way beyond the commercial aspect here. There is an unholy jihad going on.

OLBERMANN: Is it politically smart to invest that much in this, out of the administration and the people who work in that building there and the other one over here? Or is it, did they just feel like they had enough? I`m not making any undo comparisons, but when I started down this path six years ago, it was because I had enough. I didn`t know if anybody would, if I might be laughed at for pointing these things out, or there would be financial gain in it or not. As it turned out, there was. It was there say, hey, this is crap. Is that where they’ve come to?

WOLFFE: I think there are two things. First of all, yes, they`ve had enough. But they also realize that they cannot reason with Fox anymore. And if you cannot make the argument, if you think the argument is not getting through because of some other ulterior motive, or because there`s just not rational thinking going on, then you don`t have many choices. And that`s where they`re at.

OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe, MSNBC political analyst, and, of Public Strategies as well, good to see you again.

WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.