Skip to comments.A little Moore attention may backfire
Posted on 01/07/2004 5:21:45 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
Michael Moore's invective and half-truths play right into the hands of the Republicans, writes Damian Thompson.
If the title Stupid White Men doesn't mean anything to you, then you can't have been anywhere near a bookshop last year. Either that, or you are so used to picking your way through the piles of Michael Moore books that you no longer notice them, or the accompanying recommendation: "Staff pick! Really cool - the book that exposes Dubya as a fascist."
Moore is the American slob in a baseball cap who likes to hint - only hint, mind - that President George Bush had a hand in the September 11 attacks.
Moore has a huge following on campuses on both sides of the Atlantic: he, more than anyone else, has persuaded British students that the occupant of the White House is, like, just such a moron.
Stupid White Men was the bestselling non-fiction hardback in Britain last year after the Atkins New Diet Revolution; it's now top of the paperback list. Bowling for Columbine, the feature-length documentary in which Moore blames a high school massacre on the Republicans, won an Oscar.
Moore's new book, Dude, Where's My Country?, offers his most sophisticated critique to date of American foreign policy: "We like dictators! They help us get what we want and they do a great job of keeping their nations subservient to our galloping global corporate interests."
It takes Moore just a couple of paragraphs to absolve Osama bin Laden of the destruction of the World Trade Centre. "How could a guy sitting in a cave in Afghanistan have plotted so perfectly the hijacking of four planes and then guaranteed that three of them would end up precisely on their targets?" he asks.
Viewers of Bowling for Columbine may find this puzzling, remembering the film's insistence that "Osama bin Laden used his expert CIA training to murder 3000 people". But Moore regards consistency as the hobgoblin of little minds. And besides, his fast-morphing conspiracy theories are all built on the same, unshakeable foundation.
Everything in the world is the fault of stupid white Americans - in which category he apparently includes the September 11 plane passengers: he has a stand-up routine in which he suggests that if the victims had been black, rather than white "scaredy-cats", they would have had no trouble overpowering the hijackers.
The American right used to dismiss Moore's material as unfunny agit prop, unworthy of attention. That is not quite fair. Bowling for Columbine is a brilliantly constructed documentary; it's hard not to cheer when Moore embarrasses the Kmart chain into banning the sale of live ammunition to teenagers. The books are dismal by comparison, but even they evince the odd chuckle.
With sales of Stupid White Men creeping up towards 4 million, the right has changed tactics. Its new approach is to denounce Moore as a liar - a more promising line of attack. And it is certainly true that Bowling for Columbine turns out to contain more half-truths than an Enron corporate video.
For example, Moore says that Lockheed Martin manufactures "weapons of mass destruction" in Littleton, Colorado, the town where the Columbine killings occurred; he even grills a company executive in front of a scary-looking rocket in the local factory.
Lockheed Martin doesn't make weapons in Littleton; it makes weather and communications satellites that are launched by rocket.
Then there's the scene in which Moore opens an account in a rural bank and is given the free shotgun offered to new customers. "Don't you think it's a little dangerous handing out guns in a bank?" he asks.
It's a good question. And the answer: the bank doesn't normally do anything of the sort. Customers have to wait six weeks for background checks. According to the bank, the scene was staged at Moore's request.
Even the documentary's title is dodgy. It's based on reports that the Columbine killers went bowling on the morning of the massacre. Police investigators later concluded that the reports were untrue. The film makes no mention of this.
So generous is Moore's notion of artistic licence that the internet is crawling with websites exposing his "lies". Some of his critics have gone further and attempted to turn his methods on himself.
A documentary maker, Michael Wilson, has been following Moore, badgering him for an interview - just as Moore used to do to bloated chief executives. But Moore isn't talking.
Meanwhile, Dude, Where's My Country? is sitting happily in the bestseller lists. Moore's fans don't care how many fast ones he pulls because, hey, he's a funny guy. There is nothing the right can do to dent his popularity. And perhaps it shouldn't even try.
The truth is that George Bush owes Moore a debt of gratitude. He wouldn't be President today if it weren't for the Green candidate, Ralph Nader, who vacuumed up votes that would otherwise have gone to Al Gore.
Moore was Nader's biggest celebrity backer. So we can be reasonably sure that at least 538 Florida students voted Green because Mike told them to, thereby handing Dubya his winning margin.
And the next time? Strange though it might seem, Moore may help Bush achieve a second term. There he stands, inciting his audience to ever greater heights of Bush-hatred. The snag is that although this goes down a treat in cappuccino-sipping Berkeley, it doesn't play so well among blue-collar voters who think Saddam Hussein deserved to get his arse kicked.
Histrionic invective directed against relatively popular sitting presidents rarely pays off, as the McGovernites discovered in 1972 and the Clinton-haters did in 1996. The sheer incontinence of the attacks on Bush by Moore and his Hollywood friends could help deliver the midwest to Bush.
And Bush knows it, too. There's a curious passage in Stupid White Men in which Moore confesses that on the rare occasions he has met George W. or Jeb Bush, they have teased him in an almost affectionate fashion.
Indeed, the more vigorously Moore attacks the President, the better Bush's approval ratings. Funny, that. And Moore's lifestyle has been awfully lavish of late. One doesn't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but it makes you think, doesn't it?
The Telegraph, London
Like the village (as in Hillary's) idiot.
I believe Time Warner supports the morally and intellectually bankrupt nonentity Moore, another reason to abandon cable (if your provider is TW) and go DirecTV (which is now largely owned by the company that owns FOX!!!).
What a great idea! Now how can we spread the word that Moore is really in the pay of the RNC?? LOL
Okay, trust me to pick out the one thing I disagreed with...but just you watch me so not cheer for this.
LOL! The best line in the whole thing.
Is the author seriously implying that Moore(on) is a Republican stooge?
And another thing. Being called a "conspiracy theorist" these days is almost as bad as being called a bigot or a wife-beater. Lots of strange things were conspiracies before the truth got out. Agent Orange during the Vietnam War comes to mind. </rant.
Sophisticated and Moore = oxymoron
I noted the other day on a thread handwringing about "Bush" keeping protesters away, that it is the secret service keeping him safe, and I pointed out that while Clinton has a sulky attitude about them and would personally order some offenders to be harrassed by his detail, that President Bush in fact is not bothered one whit by dissent and welcomes it.
The above passage that even Moore confesses to confirms my observation. President Bush is a very good role model.