On Wednesday night's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, one night after he scathingly attacked President Bush's handling of hurricane relief (see this Wednesday NewsBusters posting), made what seems to be a bizarre comparison between those who approve of Bush's handling of disaster relief and those who voted against Lincoln's re-election in 1864.
Olbermann relayed his belief that the current political climate was a "re-creation" of the "mindset of the national politics of the year 1864," the year when 45 percent of American voters voted for Democratic candidate George McClellan, "whose campaign platform consisted entirely of promising to immediately end the war, let the South secede, and let slavery continue there." Considering the recent criticisms made by some that President Bush was insensitive to hurricane victims trapped in New Orleans because most were black, Olbermann's choice of McClellan, a man who ran on a pro-slavery platform, suspiciously looks like an accusation that Bush's supporters similarly are insensitive to the black population, or, at least, are supporting a man who is just as obviously undeserving of support as McClellan was.
Olbermann then went on to recite Gallup poll results that shed light on whom the public blames for disaster relief problems, but excluded the finding that only 13 percent of those polled believe Bush was "most responsible for the problems in New Orleans after the hurricane." He instead distorted the results by combining those who blame Bush -- 13 percent -- and those who blame federal agencies -- 18 percent -- to say that 31 percent blame "the President or federal agencies."
A complete transcript of Olbermann's comments follows:
Keith Olbermann, on the September 7 Countdown: "It would seemingly be impossible to re-create the mindset of the national politics of the year 1864. But consider the fact that in the middle of the Civil War, just after the capture of Atlanta, with victory, as it proved, no more than five months away, with only people in the Northern states eligible to cast a ballot, with all that, 45 percent of all voters still voted against the Republican, Abraham Lincoln, and for the Democrat, George McClellan. McClellan, whose campaign platform consisted entirely of promising to immediately end the war, let the South secede, and let slavery continue there, 45 percent, 1.8 million out of 4 million voters said yes to that.
"Our third story in the Countdown: Well, maybe it isn't impossible to re-create the mindset of the national politics of the year 1864. The latest Gallup poll results are in. Only 10 percent of Democrats give the President a positive rating for his response to the hurricane, and only 10 percent of Republicans give the President a negative rating for his response to the hurricane. Taken as a whole, 10 percent of the country thinks Mr. Bush did great, 25 percent good, 21 percent neither good nor bad, 18 percent bad, 24 percent terrible. Cut out the middle, that's 35 percent good or great and 42 percent bad or terrible. In that black-and-white fashion, he gets about the same blame as everybody else. How'd the federal agencies do? 35 percent good or great, 42 percent bad or terrible, exactly the same as the President. How about state and local officials? 37 percent good or great, 35 percent bad or terrible. Who's most responsible for the problems in New Orleans after the hurricane? 'No one to blame' was the clear winner with 38 percent. 'The President or federal agencies' 31 percent, 'state or local officials' 25 percent.
"And one old number, though, for contrast, how the President was perceived shortly after the great crisis of 9/11. Gallup poll closing Friday September 22, 2001, 90 percent approved of how he was doing his job, six percent disapproved. Continuing the theme of bipartisanship, 'bi' as in goodbye. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader of the Senate, Bill Frist, meeting the media this afternoon to announce a joint House-Senate bipartisan investigation into the preparation and response to Katrina, but, when reached for comment, the office of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said the Republicans have not contacted the Democrats at all about any investigation. Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, the thought may have already crossed your mind: Is this disconnect between the two sides really political or have the members of each party simply begun to inhabit separate and mutually exclusive physical planes of existence? You know, like separate universes?"