Television was absolutely chock full of analysis following President Obama's speech Tuesday night on the Afganistan war. And much of it was impressive. CNN had a cast of what seemed like thousands, and most of the in-studio analysts delivered the goods. Fareed Zakaria was surgical in deconstructing the president's argument and dispassionately pointing out the holes in it.

But the most intriguing conversation to me was the one on MSNBC being led by Keith Olbermann.


I know, the two of us have had our differences. I lost count last summer of my "Worst Person" nominations.

Be that as it may, Olbermann was serious, focused, informed and I daresay fearless in exploring left-wing reaction to the president's decision to add 30,000 more troops and up the ante on America's commitment in a country with a government that even Obama admits is corrupt. The left was where the action was after the speech, and Olbermann used his home court advantage well.

He interviewed California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and she made no attenmpt to hide what she described as her disappointment in the course that the president had set in his West Point speech.

"I don't get it. It just doesn't work for me," Waters said ruefully.

"Are you going to attempt to stop what he is going to do?" Olbermann asked, mining for a more specific answer from this influential member of the Black Congressional Caucus.

"We will not support it," she said.

"You will have to vote against it?" Olbermann asked, again trying for absolute clarity on what Waters was saying.

"Yes, I will have to vote against it," she said firmly, citing budget issues and her desire to have the president address what she sees as a far more pressing "domestic agenda."

It was one of the most riveting back-and-forth question-and-answer moments of the night anywhere on TV, and it was clear that neither Olbermann nor Waters was enjoying one bit saying what they felt had to said. But Olbermann was pressing waters, and in so doing, he was bringing important information to viewers as to what kind of opposition Obama might now face from what had been part of his base in Congress.

Just in case anyone didn't get the larger implication of the conversation, Olbermann deftly summed it up as the Waters segment ended and his "Countdown" show went to commercial

"This issue," he said, "...has riven the progressive moment and the Democratic Party... and, perhaps, the nation."

There might be some overstatement in there, but it was one of the most fascinating post-speech story lines to pursue, and nobody tried to explicate it more precisely than Olbermann Tuesday night. Good for him -- and good fortune for those who were watching him.