It was just a couple of nights ago that Keith Olbermann was challenging us, in one of his â€œSpecial Commentsâ€, 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 â€œTea Partyâ€ is to be as angry and as organized and as aggressive as the Tea Party community, and if weâ€™re smart, weâ€™ll take him up on that challenge.
But if you really want to push â€œprofessionalâ€ Democrats to the left, most especially this President, and you want to do it in time to impact the â€™12 cycle, the only way to do it is to run a candidate in primary contests that either moves the conversation your wayâ€¦or leaves you with a surprising new Candidate.
And right here, right now, we actually have a chance to do exactly that â€“ and thatâ€™s why, in todayâ€™s discussion, Iâ€™m going to challenge Olbermann right back.
â€œThen white men began to fence the plains so that we could not travel; and anyhow there wasâ€¦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 foolishnessâ€¦â€
–Pretty Shield, of the Crow Nation, quoted in the book â€œThe Native Americans: An Illustrated Historyâ€
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.
Letâ€™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 â€“ 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 â€œpooping in the Democratic poolâ€, 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, youâ€™d need a credible figure with national recognition, and in this environment, it wouldnâ€™t hurt if that person wasnâ€™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; youâ€™ll recall that the â€™08 Obama Campaign appealed to many centrist voters for many of the same reasons.)
It also wouldnâ€™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 minuteâ€¦and after you do, consider this: is there anyone else out there that youâ€™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 itâ€™s time for us to get organized and angry, but in this media world, if you donâ€™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, Iâ€™ll bet you could raise seed money from both the â€œLeft Coastâ€ and â€œUpper West Sideâ€ 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 â€“ 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 donâ€™t want you to have to worry about whatâ€™s going to happen over there; with that in mind Iâ€™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 youâ€™ll be able to come back to something that has been in pretty good hands.
â€œâ€¦(baseball is) our national pastime, that is if you discount political campaigning.â€
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 â€“ 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 nationâ€™s politics, and you could think of it as a patriotic dutyâ€“ but it would also be an incredible learning experience, and youâ€™d come back to your own job with an understanding of the inner workings of realpolitik that very few on television could ever matchâ€¦and after itâ€™s over, since you wouldnâ€™t be running again, you could actually talk about â€œwhere the bodies are buriedâ€ in a way no one else can.
Maybe youâ€™re thinking: â€œHow can I be credible if I have no real ability to run a government?â€ The answer can be found, literally, right here.
The Blogosphere is entirely capable of providing the appointees who would run a Government â€“ 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 Stateâ€¦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 (youâ€™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 itâ€™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 â€“ and thatâ€™s actually an advantage in this situation that canâ€™t be ignored.
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, hereâ€™s your chance to do something that could change the whole political conversation â€“ and before weâ€™re done, President Obama might even find those â€œcomfortable shoesâ€ weâ€™ve heard so much about.
So letâ€™s take one for America, and letâ€™s get this thing on the hump, or whatever clichÃ© you preferâ€¦but letâ€™s do it now, and letâ€™s do it well, and letâ€™s create something that brings the â€œdiscouragedâ€ public to bear in a way they arenâ€™t today.
This is your chance to do something big, something profoundâ€¦something that takes your â€œdiva tendenciesâ€ and plays them to their best advantageâ€¦and I think itâ€™s time for you to get behind this idea; before, as you suggested could happen, the window to fight back closes.