Text of Keith Olbermann's "Special Comment" delivered live last night on MSNBC, decrying Hillary Clinton for the tactics of her campaign and specifically for her failure to categorically reject the remarks of Geraldine Ferraro about Barack Obama. The video may be viewed here. Transcript below:
KEITH OLBERMANN: Finally, as promised, a special comment on the presidential campaign of the junior senator from New York. By way of necessary preface, President and Senator Clinton and the senator's mother and the senator's brother were of immeasurable support to me at the moments when these very commentaries were the focus of the most surprise, the most uncertainty and the most anger. My gratitude to them is unbiding.
Also, I am not here endorsing Senator Obama`s nomination, nor suggesting in it is inevitable. Thus I have fought with myself over whether or not to say anything. Events insist.
Senator, as it has reached its apex in their tone deaf, arrogant and insensitive reaction to the remarks of Geraldine Ferraro, your own advisers are slowly killing your chances to become president. Senator, their words and your own are now slowly killing the chances for any Democrat to become president. In your tepid response to this Ferraro disaster, you may sincerely think you disenthralling an enchanted media and righting an unfair advance bestowed on Senator Obama. You may think the matter has closed with Representative Ferraro's bitter, almost threatening resignation letter.
But, in fact, senator, you are now campaigning as if Barack Obama were the Democrat and you were the Republican. As Shakespeare wrote, senator, "that way madness lies." You have missed a critical opportunity to do what was right. No matter what Miss Ferraro now claims, no one took her comments out of context. She had made them on at least there separate occasions, then twice more on television this morning. Just hours ago, on "NBC Nightly News," she denied she had made the remark in an interview, only at a paid political speech.
In fact, the first time she spoke them was 10 days before that California newspaper published them, not in a speech, but in a radio interview. On February 26, quoting, "if Barack Obama were a white man, would we be talking about this as a potential real problem for Hillary. If he were a woman of any color, would he be in this position that he's in? Absolutely not."
The content was inescapable. Two minutes earlier, a member of Senator Clinton's finance committee, one of her Hill-Raisers had bemoaned the change in allegiance by super delegate John Lewis from Clinton to Obama and also the endorsement of Obama by Senator Dodd; "I look at these guys doing it," she had said, "and I have to tell you, it`s the guys sticking together."
A minute after the color remark, she was describing herself as having been chosen for the 1984 Democratic ticket purely as a woman politician, purely to make history. She was, in turn, making a blind accusation of sexism and dismissing Senator Obama`s candidacy as nothing more than some equal opportunity stunt.
The next day, she repeated her comments and a reporter from the newspaper in Torrence, California heard them; "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. If he was a woman of any color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is and the country is caught up in the concept."
And when this despicable statement, ugly in its overtones, laughable in its week grip of the facts, and moronic in the historical context, when it floats outward from the Clinton campaign like a poison cloud, what do the advisers have their candidate do? Do they have Senator Clinton herself compare the remark to Al Campanis (ph) talking on "Nightline" on Jackie Robinson Day about how blacks lack the necessities to become baseball executives, while she points out that Barack Obama has not gotten his 1600 delegates as part of some kind of affirmative action plan?
Do they have Senator Clinton note that her own brief period in elected office is as irrelevant to the issue of judgment as is Senator Obama's, while she points out that FDR had served only six years as governor and state senator before he became president? Or that Teddy Roosevelt had four and a half years before the White House? Or that Woodrow Wilson had two years and six weeks?
Or Richard Nixon 14? And Calvin Coolidge 25?
Do these advisers have Senator Clinton invoke Samantha Power, gone by sunrise after she used the word monster, and have Senator Clinton say, this is how I police my campaign, and this is what I stand for, while she fires former Congresswoman Ferraro from any role in the campaign? No, somebody tells her that simply disagreeing with, then rejecting the remarks is sufficient. She should then call regrettable words that should make any Democrat retch.
And that she should then try to twist them, first into some pox on both your houses plea to stick to the issues, and then to let her campaign manager try to bend them beyond all recognition into Senator Obama's fault. And thus these advisers give Congresswoman Ferraro nearly a week in which to send Senator Clinton`s campaign back into the vocabulary of David Duke; "anytime anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says, let`s address reality and the problems we're facing in this world, you`re accused of being racist, so you have to shut up. Racism works in two different directions. I really think they are attacking me because I'm white. How's that?"
How's that? Apart from sounding exactly like Rush Limbaugh attacking the black football quarterback Donovan McNab, apart from sounding exactly like what Miss Ferraro said about another campaign nearly 20 years ago, quote, "President Reagan suggested Tuesday that people don't ask Jesse Jackson tough questions because of his race. Former Representative Geraldine A. Ferraro said Wednesday that because of his, quote, radical views, if Jesse Jackson were not black, he would not be in the race."
So apart from sounding like insidious racism that is at least two decades old, apart from rendering ridiculous Senator Clinton`s shell game about choosing Obama as vice president, apart from this evenings resignation letter; "I am stepping down from your finance committee so I can speak for myself and you can continue to speak for yourself about what is at stake in this campaign. The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you."
Apart from all that, well, it sounds as if those advisers wanted their campaign to be associated with those words, and the cheap, ignorant, vile racism that underlies every syllable of them, and that Geraldine Ferraro has just gone freelance.
Senator Clinton, that is not a campaign strategy. This is a suicide pact. This week alone, your so-called strategists have declared that Senator Obama has not yet crossed some commander in chief threshold, but he might still be your choice to be vice president, even though a quarter of
the previous 16 vice presidents have become commander in chief during the greatest kind of crisis this country can face, a midterm succession, but you only pick him if he crosses that threshold by the time of the convention.
But if he does cross that threshold by the time of the convention, he will only have done so sufficiently enough to become vice president, not president? Senator, if the serpentine logic of your so-called advisers were not bad enough, now thanks to Geraldine Ferraro and your campaigns initial refusal to break with her, and your new relationship with her, now more disturbing still with her claim that she can now speak for herself about her vision as Senator Obama as some kind of embodiment of a quota if she wishes.
If you were to seek Obama as a vice president, it would be to Miss Ferraro some called of social engineering gesture, some kind of racial make good. Do you not see, senator?
To Senator Clinton`s supporters, to her admirers, to her friends for whom she is first choice and to her friends for whom she is second choice, she is still letting herself be perceived as standing next to and standing by racial divisiveness and blindness. Worse yet, after what President Clinton said during the South Carolina primary, comparing the Obama and Jesse Jackson campaigns, a disturbing but only border line remark, after what some in the black community have perceived as a racial undertone to the 3:00 a.m. ad, a disturbing but only borderline interpretation, and after the moments hesitation in her own answer on "60 Minutes" about Obama's religion, a disturbing but only borderline vagueness -- after those precedents, there are those who see a pattern. False or true, they see it. After those precedents, there are those who see an intent. False or true, they see it. After those precedents, there are those that see the Clinton campaign`s anything but benign neglect of the Ferraro catastrophe, falsely or truly, as a desire to hear the kind of casual prejudice which still haunts the society voiced, and to not distance the campaign from it.
To not distance you from it, Senator. To not distance you from that which you, as a woman, and Senator Obama, as an African-American, should both know and feel with the deepest of personal pain, which you should both fight with all you have, which you should both ensure has no place in this contest ever.
This, Senator Clinton, is your campaign and it is your name. Grab the reigns back from whoever has led you to this precipice before it is too late. Voluntarily or inadvertently, you are still awash in this filth. Your only reaction has been to disagree, reject, to call it regrettable. Her only reaction has been to brand herself as the victim and resign from your committee and insist she will continue to speak. Unless, senator, you say something definitive, the former congresswoman is speaking with your
You must remedy this and you must reject and denounce Geraldine Ferraro. Good night and good luck.