MSNBC's Keith Olbermann offered a scathing Special Comment on Monday, tearing into Senator John McCain's recent remarks about Senator Barack Obama, which Olbermann described as "unseemly contempt, undignified calumny, and holier-than-thou persiflage unsupported by reality."
McCain had told the Veterans of Foreign Wars earlier that day, "Victory in Iraq ... could still be squandered by hasty withdrawal and arbitrary timelines. And this is one of many problems in the shifting positions of my opponent."
"The shifting positions of Senator Obama?" asked Olbermann. "Senator, you declared victory in Iraq five years and nearly three months ago. Today you say 'victory in Iraq is finally in sight.' ... You are putting up a campaign based on the mirage that Iraq is winnable. ... Even if this country were to forget, Senator, the victory lap that you and President Bush took five years ago, just on their face your remarks at the VFW, Senator, are nonsensical."
"Prudence and judgment demanded that Senator McCain tread lightly today," Olbermann continued. "Instead he told that convention, 'I suppose from my opponent's vantage point veterans' concerns are just one more issue to be spun or worked to advantage.'"
Olbermann pointed out that last spring McCain opposed a bill expanding GI educational benefits "on the asinine premise that the rewards to our heroes in it were so good that it did not encourage them to stay in the service." This year, McCain has missed every Senate vote on Iraq, "including one to honor just the sacrifice of the fallen," and has voted over and over to deny additional spending for veterans' health care.
"And yet, sir," Olbermann proclaimed, "you have the audacity to stand there in front of the very veterans you repeatedly and consistently sell out and claim it is your opponent who has put politics first and country second."
Olbermann then turned to McCain's remark that "behind all of these claims and positions by Senator Obama lies the ambition to be president."
"Criticizing a man for having 'the ambition to be president,'" Olbermann repeated incredulously. "Seriously -- you do realize you are currently running for president as well, right? Either you also have the ambition to be president or -- what? Somebody's blackmailing you into it?"
Olbermann ended by mentioning the McCain campaign's outrage over a report by NBC's Andrea Mitchell that Obama's people believe McCain may not have actually been in a "cone of silence" before his appearance at a joint forum with Senator Obama this past weekend and may have been able to find out the questions in advance.
McCain campaign manager Rick Davis angrily called Mitchell's story "irresponsible journalism and sadly indicative of the level of objectivity we have witnessed at NBC News this election cycle." He went on to threaten, "We are concerned that your news division is following MSNBC's lead in abandoning non-partisan coverage of the presidential race. We would like to request a meeting with you as soon as possible."
"He wants no level of objectivity," Olbermann explained. "The only campaign he wants questioned is Obama's."
"You and your campaign need a serious and immediate attitude adjustment," Olbermann concluded, addressing McCain directly. "Despite what you may think, Senator McCain, this is not a coronation. ... You have no automatic excuse to politicize anything you want. Despite how you have whined, Senator McCain, you have no entitlement to only sycophantic deceptive airbrushed coverage from the media. And despite how you have strutted, Senator McCain, you have no god-given right to the presidency."
"In other words -- and I am embarrassed to have to say this to a man who turns 72 this month -- Senator, grow up!"
This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast August 18, 2008.