Perhaps it was David Brooks who summarized Michael Moore best. In a June 26th op-ed column for the New York Times, he wrote:
Like Hemingway, Moore does his boldest thinking while abroad. For example, it was during an interview with the British paper The Mirror that Moore unfurled what is perhaps the central insight of his oeuvre, that Americans are kind of crappy.
“They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet . . . in thrall to conniving, thieving smug [pieces of the human anatomy],” Moore intoned. “We Americans suffer from an enforced ignorance. We don’t know about anything that’s happening outside our country. Our stupidity is embarrassing.”
That’s quite a worldview, Mike. I hope you’ll forgive “dumb, conniving, thieving smug [piece of the human anatomy]” for trying to improve ourselves, but in a quest for enlightenment the likes of which only you possess, perhaps we can look with a critical eye at your latest opus.
Better yet, since others have debunked Fahrenheit 9/11 far better than a “smug [piece of… oh, let’s just say it: asshole]” ever could, let’s begin with Dave Kopel’s extensive analysis of the lies and mischaracterizations rampant throughout the film: Fifty-nine Deceits in Fahrenheit 9/11.
If anything Kopel goes easy on Moore, giving him the benefit of the doubt in several areas. As well he should. I would even stipulate that there are parts of the film that are accurate. The Patriot Act, for example, contains some odious provisions.
For the most part, however, Kopel is right. And it would be possible to add to nearly every category of his article.
Consider the famous ‘seven minutes’ President Bush spent reading to second-graders in Sarasota after receiving word of the attack. Sure, the school principal thought Bush acted properly. And the President stated his reasoning for remaining in the room: “I though it important to project strength and calm until I could better understand what was happening.” But beyond that, there was a matter of logistics.
Where exactly was the President supposed to go? Once the country was under attack, the Secret Service wasn’t going to let him go anywhere until they had reassessed the threat environment and implemented whatever game plan they have for securing the building’s exterior, establishing a new route for the motorcade back to Air Force One, and so on. Frankly, I’m surprised it only took seven minutes. How was the Secret Service to even know that Air Force One was safe? It’s entirely possible that the emergency Secret Service procedure involves holding the President in place until the Vice-President has been moved to a secure location.
The possibilities are endless. However, since the USSS doesn’t comment on procedures, it has the political effect of hanging the President out to dry. Yeah, he looks like a chump in F911. And if Americans were as dumb as Mr. Moore thinks, that might be the end of it. But I’m betting that they aren’t, and that means Michael Moore will end up poisoning the Kerry/Edwards ticket much like the Dean Dogma dashed any chances the Governor may have had of capturing the White House.
Mr. Moore’s hokum is not limited to the silver screen. James Lileks goes to town on Moore’s 4th of July op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, noting that in Mike’s world, “Movies are facts, you see. Facts are just opinions.” Especially when the facts are not his.
I don’t mean to dump on Michael Moore. He has positive traits as well. For example, he’s quite funny. In the words of comedian Bill Burr:
To watch him make a million dollars in film and still feel the need to dress like he just put a fender on a Ford Taurus, is hilarious. It’s a great look. He’s like the modern-day Mr. Green Jeans. I want to see him go on TV with a screwdriver, fiddling with a distributor cap as he does a late-night talk show. Or maybe dry off a gas cap with an oily rag as he’s sandwiched between Ashton Kutcher and Jay Leno, talking about the War On Terror.
I’m not sure why Mr. Moore expects plausibility when he appears in front of millions in a ratty t-shirt and three days worth of stubble. He may not smell bad, but he sure looks like it. If you ever needed proof that Moore really does believe Americans are the stupidist people on the planet, you can put this in the evidence bin with his films, books, op-ed pieces, and other spittle-flecked screeds. To be sure, his stuff sells well. But then extremism and outlandishness always sells. It does not tend to win national elections, however.
I venerate principled debate, open discussion, and most of all respect for those on the other side. Sadly, he embraces none of those qualities. To Moore, there’s his way and there’s the highway. You’re either with him or you’re a swastika-worshiping goon who stole his country.
Does that sound American to you?