Olbermann Labels Giuliani Anti-Dem Remarks 'Terrorism'

In his latest "Special Comment" rant, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann used his Countdown show to target Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani for a speech the former mayor gave at a Lincoln Day Dinner in which Giuliani contended that America would be "playing defense" in the war on terrorism under a Democratic president, with Olbermann labeling Giuliani's comments as "terrorism," and accusing the former mayor of "threatening the American people with 'casualties' if they ... elect a Democrat president. The Countdown host further accused Giuliani of "doing Osama bin Laden's work for him." Olbermann: "Claim a difference between the parties on the voters' chances of survival, and you do Osama bin Laden's work for him. And we, Democrats and Republicans alike, and every variation in between, we Americans are sick to death of you and the other terror-mongers trying to frighten us into submission, into the surrender of our rights and our reason, into this betrayal of that for which this country has always stood!" (Transcript follows)

Olbermann began the segment admonishing Giuliani and President Bush for "unreadiness of their own governments" at the time of the 9/11 attacks. "Only in this America of the early 21st century could it be true that the man who was President during the worst attack on our nation and the man who was the mayor of the city in which that attack principally unfolded would not only be absolved of any and all blame for the unreadiness of their own governments, but, moreover, would thereafter be branded heroes of those attacks."

After quoting some of Giuliani's comments about the importance of having a Republican president to implement the war on terrorism, which Olbermann labeled a "vote Democrat or die" message, the Countdown host accused Giuliani of "threatening" the American people, and accused him of having "flights of grandeur" and of using the "language of bin Laden." Olbermann: "At least that Republican president under which we have not been safer has, even at his worst, maintained some microscopic distance between himself and a campaign platform that blithely threatened the American people with 'casualties' if they, next year, elect a Democratic president or, inferring from Mr. Giuliani's flights of grandeur in New Hampshire last night, even if they elect a different Republican. How dare you, sir? 'How many casualties will we have?' This is the language of bin Laden."

After accusing Giuliani of trying to "terrorize" Americans into believing a vote for Democrats is "an act of suicide," Olbermann continued: "This is not the mere politicizing of the war in Iraq, nor the vague mumbled epithets about Democratic "softness" from a delusional vice president. This is casualties on a partisan basis, of the naked assertion that Mr. Giuliani's party knows all and will save those who have voted for it, and to hell with everybody else. And that he, with no foreign policy experience whatsoever, is somehow the messiah-of-the-moment."

Olbermann soon accused the former mayor of "terrorism" again as he quoted Giuliani. Olbermann: "'The Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us,' Mr. Giuliani continued to the Rockingham County Lincoln Day Dinner last night. 'Never, ever again will this country be on defense waiting for (terrorists) to attack us, if I have anything to say about it. And make no mistake,' he concluded, 'the Democrats want to put us back on defense.' There is no room for this. This is terrorism itself, dressed up as counter-terrorism."

Olbermann then accused Giuliani "and other terror-mongers" of trying to "frighten" Americans into surrendering their rights, accusing Giuliani of "doing Osama bin Laden's work for him." Olbermann: "Claim a difference between the parties on the voters' chances of survival, and you do Osama bin Laden's work for him. And we, Democrats and Republicans alike, and every variation in between, we Americans are sick to death of you and the other terror-mongers trying to frighten us into submission, into the surrender of our rights and our reason, into this betrayal of that for which this country has always stood!"

After having earlier suggested Republicans were "running roughshod over Americans' rights while braying that it was actually protecting them," Olbermann seemed to see no irony in concluding his rant by quoting Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who stripped many Japanese-American citizens of their rights in internment camps during World War II, as the Countdown host concluded the segment. Olbermann: "Franklin Roosevelt's words ring true again tonight. And, clarified and amplified, they are just as current now as they were when first he spoke them 74 years ago. 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself,' and those who would exploit our fear, for power and for their own personal, selfish, cynical gain. Good night and good luck."

Below is a complete transcript of Olbermann's "Special Comment," also available on the Countdown Web site, from the April 25 Countdown show:

Finally tonight, a 'Special Comment' about Rudolph Giuliani's remarks at a Lincoln Day Dinner in New Hampshire last night. Since some indeterminable hour between the final dousing of the pyre at the World Trade Center, and the breaking of what Senator Obama has aptly termed '9/11 fever,' it has been profoundly and disturbingly evident that we are at the center of one of history's great ironies.

Only in this America of the early 21st century could it be true that the man who was President during the worst attack on our nation and the man who was the mayor of the city in which that attack principally unfolded would not only be absolved of any and all blame for the unreadiness of their own governments, but, moreover, would thereafter be branded heroes of those attacks.

And now, that mayor, whose most profound municipal act in the wake of that nightmare was to suggest the postponement of the election to choose his own successor, has gone even a step beyond these M.C. Escher constructions of history. 'If any Republican is elected president, and I think obviously I would be best at this, we will remain on offense and we will anticipate what (the terrorists) will do and try to stop them before they do it.' Insisting that the election of any Democrat would mean the country was 'back on defense,' Mr. Giuliani continued last night: 'But the question is how long will it take and how many casualties will we have? If we are on defense, we will have more losses and it will go on longer.'

He said this with no sense of irony, no sense of any personal shortcomings, no sense whatsoever. And if you somehow missed what he was really saying, somehow did not hear the none-too-subtle subtext of 'vote Democratic and die,' Mr. Giuliani then stripped away any barrier of courtesy, telling Roger Simon of politico.com, quote: 'America will be safer with a Republican president.'

At least that Republican president under which we have not been safer has, even at his worst, maintained some microscopic distance between himself and a campaign platform that blithely threatened the American people with 'casualties' if they, next year, elect a Democratic president or, inferring from Mr. Giuliani's flights of grandeur in New Hampshire last night, even if they elect a different Republican.

How dare you, sir? 'How many casualties will we have?' This is the language of bin Laden. Yours, Mr. Giuliani, is the same chilling nonchalance of the madman, of the proselytizer who has moved from even some crude framework of politics and society, into a virtual Roman Colosseum of carnage, and a conceit over your own ability, and worthiness, to decide who therein lives and who dies. Rather than a reasoned discussion, rather than a political campaign advocating your own causes and extolling your own qualifications, you have bypassed all the intermediate steps and moved directly to trying to terrorize the electorate into viewing a vote for a Democrat not as a reasonable alternative and an inalienable right, but as an act of suicide.

This is not the mere politicizing of the war in Iraq, nor the vague mumbled epithets about Democratic 'softness' from a delusional vice president. This is casualties on a partisan basis, of the naked assertion that Mr. Giuliani's party knows all and will save those who have voted for it, and to hell with everybody else. And that he, with no foreign policy experience whatsoever, is somehow the messiah-of-the-moment.

Even to grant that that formula, whether posed by Republican or Democrat, is somehow not the most base, the most indefensible, the most un-American electioneering in our history, even if it is somehow acceptable to assign 'casualties' to one party and 'safety' to the other, even if we have become so profane in our thinking that it is part of our political vocabulary to view counter-terror as one party's property and the other's liability, on what imaginary track record does Mr. Giuliani base his boast?

Which party held the presidency on September 11, 2001, Mr. Giuliani? Which party held the mayoralty of New York on that date, Mr. Giuliani? Which party assured New Yorkers that the air was safe and the remains of the dead recovered and not being used to fill potholes, Mr. Giuliani? Which party wanted what the terrorists wanted, the postponement of our elections, and to whose personal advantage would that have redounded, Mr. Giuliani? Which mayor of New York was elected eight months after the first attack on the World Trade Center, yet did not emphasize counter-terror in that same city for the next eight years, Mr. Giuliani? Which party had proposed to turn over the Department of Homeland Security to Bernard Kerik, Mr. Giuliani? Who wanted to ignore and hide Kerik's organized crime allegations, Mr. Giuliani? Who personally argued to the White House that Kerik need not be vetted, Mr. Giuliani? Which party rode roughshod over Americans' rights while braying that it was actually protecting them, Mr. Giuliani? Which party took this country into the most utterly backwards, utterly counterproductive, utterly ruinous war in our history, Mr. Giuliani? Which party has been in office as more Americans were killed in the pointless fields of Iraq than were killed in the consuming nightmare of 9/11, Mr. Giuliani? Drop this argument, sir! You will lose it!

'The Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us,' Mr. Giuliani continued to the Rockingham County Lincoln Day Dinner last night. 'Never, ever again will this country be on defense waiting for (terrorists) to attack us, if I have anything to say about it. And make no mistake,' he concluded, 'the Democrats want to put us back on defense.'

There is no room for this. This is terrorism itself, dressed up as counter-terrorism. It is not warning, but bullying, substituted for the political discourse now absolutely essential to this country's survival and the freedom of its people. No Democrat has said words like these. None has ever campaigned on the Republicans' flat-footedness of September 11, 2001. None has the requisite, irresponsible, all-consuming ambition. None is willing to say 'I accuse,' rather than recognize that, to some degree, all of us share responsibility for our collective stupor. And if it is somehow insufficient, that it is morally, spiritually, and politically wrong, to screech as Mr. Giuliani has screeched, there is also this: that gaping hole in Mr. Giuliani's argument of 'Republicans equal life, Democrats equal death.' Not only have the Republicans not lived up to their babbling on this subject, but last fall the electorate called them on it.

As doubtless they would call you on it, Mr. Giuliani. Repeat, go beyond Mr. Bush's rhetorical calamities of 2006. Call attention to the casualties on your watch, and your long, waking slumber in the years between the two attacks on the World Trade Center. Become the candidate who runs on the 'Vote for Me or Die' platform. Do a Joe McCarthy, do a Lyndon Johnson, do a Robespierre. Only, if you choose so to do, do not come back surprised nor remorseful if the voters remind you that 'terror' is not just a matter of 'casualties.' It is, just as certainly, a matter of the promulgation of fear.

Claim a difference between the parties on the voters' chances of survival, and you do Osama bin Laden's work for him. And we, Democrats and Republicans alike, and every variation in between, we Americans are sick to death of you and the other terror-mongers trying to frighten us into submission, into the surrender of our rights and our reason, into this betrayal of that for which this country has always stood!

Franklin Roosevelt's words ring true again tonight. And, clarified and amplified, they are just as current now as they were when first he spoke them 74 years ago. 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself,' and those who would exploit our fear, for power and for their own personal, selfish, cynical gain. Good night and good luck.