That's a pretty strong statement, I realize, but Wednesday night's "Special Comment" by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on the loss of habeas corpus protections lives up to the billing.
On his "Countdown" show last night (Oct. 18, 2006), Olbermann delivered an eloquent explanation of why George Bush's signing of the Military Commission Act on Tuesday is such a betrayal of American values.
Olbermann's "Special Comment" was well-researched, grounded in more than 200 years of American experiments-gone-bad with restricting rights of people under suspicion in times of alleged foreign dangers, dating back to John Adams' Alien and Sedition Acts. Rather than boring the audience, Olbermann's forays into history added power and depth to his denunciation of Bush's signing of the latest atrocity.
Although Olbermann pulled no punches in his attack on Bush, his was not a partisan diatribe. He was not criticizing Bush and praising Democrats. Several of his historical examples -- Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt -- were Democrats who disregarded the sanctity of habeas corpus.
No, Olbermann was not speaking as a closet Democrat, as a Fox News commentator would speak as a closet Bush backer while claiming to be fair and balanced. Olbermann was not speaking as someone who coddles terrorists and wants them to "win."
Olbermann was speaking as an American who values the freedoms and protections guaranteed by the Constitution and respected -- for the most part -- by previous presidents. And he did it with passion.
His most important salvo came at the end when he delivered a warning to Bush: When Bush leaves office in a little over two years and some other person is president, perhaps someone Bush doesn't trust as much as he trusts himself, what will prevent that future president from having Bush himself arrested? Who -- and what -- will protect Bush?
And that's what's scary about the measure. Not what Bush will do with it, but some other president whose name and character we don't yet know years hence.
Olbermann put his finger on the greatest threat of the measure. And he's just a sports guy at heart.