I finally broke down and saw Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11,” courtesy of the public library. As an antiwar right-winger, I expected to agree with some of it but not all—and that’s how it was.
The most awful part was the beginning, in which he asserted that George W. Bush stole the election in Florida in 2000—because he had a mole at Fox News, and because the woman in charge of elections was a Republican and because black voters had been stricken from the rolls. Evidence? Some black members of Congress said the election had been stolen, though not one Senator supported them. Moore did not document it beyond that, and that is not enough. He never mentioned Gore’s demand to recount votes only in the counties where he was ahead, and nothing about the Democrats trying to throw out the ballots from overseas soldiers. And he never mentioned the recounts done by major newspapers much later, in which they declared that in a full statewide recount, Bush would have won.
Next came a long part about the Bush family involvements with Saudis, and the Bin Ladin family, and Halliburton, and pipelines, and the Carlyle Group. A lot of innuendo, and shaking hands with guys with turbans, and no proof. I mean, really: does the left think Bush went to war in Afghanistan so that some private businessmen could build a pipeline? Or that he went to war in Iraq in order to get contracts for Halliburton? That Halliburton got contracts, and lucrative ones, is a significant thing, but the left makes it a central thing.
Perhaps the cause of the war on Iraq was to protect our Saudi and Gulf oil suppliers from Saddam. “We’ll keep pumping oil for the West, earning money at a faster rate than we can spend it, and investing it in the Western countries, providing you run this thug out of our neighborhood.” I’m not saying that’s it, but it would have made more sense than Moore’s theory. But that would have made Bush look smart, and Moore accepts only theories that make Bush look like a crook or an idiot.
Also, there was no mention of neoconservatives and their theories of spreading democracy in the heartland of Islam, and no mention—nothing!—about their interest in protecting Israel. I didn’t catch the word “Israel” in the movie at all.
Moore made much of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice, et al., going on and on about “weapons of mass destruction,” and nuclear weapons that turned out not to be there. Here he is correct. He made the clear point that that Iraq had not attacked us, had not threatened to attack us, and that Bush was obsessed with Iraq anyway, and was trying to pin the blame for 9/11 on Saddam Hussein. Again correct. He scored points by showing the soldiers searching a house and terrorizing the inhabitants, by showing a tank crew talking about shooting Iraqis to rock music, and talking to individual soldiers about their feelings of guilt for being killers and their doubts about whether they should be there.
All worthwhile. But Moore repeatedly undermined his credibility by going for the cheap shot against Bush, to get a laugh, or the juxtaposition of facts or statements that suggested a sinister relationship that was never proven. This is a film full of cheap tricks.
Several times he brought on Rep. Jim McDermott, my left-wing congressman, who has been criticized by conservatives for being an accomplice to Michael Moore’s unpatriotic film. (Actually, Moore is quite the patriot, in a lefty way.) But “Baghdad Jim” made a lot of sense. He said the Bush administration used the terror alerts to keep the public on edge, and fearful, and looking to the government to deliver them. Well—he’s right. The Bush administration did do that, with all its talk about being “at war.” Indeed, it probably got Bush re-elected, and his Republican majorities in Congress. I disagree with McDermott on a number of things, especially socialized health insurance, but when a man’s right, I try to agree with him.
I liked him better than Michael Moore.
Respond to Bruce.