July 09, 2004

Michael Moore's Patriotic Challenge II

I have to dissent from Steven Den Beste on the desirability of Michael Moore as the face of the loyal opposition. While, on the surface, having such an irresponsible clown heading the most visible opposition is very attractive for the center-right, the reality is that Michael Moore's rise carries significant risks for the nation. Here are a few of them.

1. The breakdown of national civility, a widely shared recognition of the other side's patriotism, even their very humanity, will eventually lead to a breakdown in the proposition that problems are to be solved nonviolently at the ballot box, through the system.

2. Having lived a significant amount of time in very blue america, I have met people who, being constantly immersed in the horribly false stereotypes of what Republicans and conservatives are and rejecting the reality of what the left has wrought, actually model their political life after the left's stereotype of what a right winger is instead of the authentic american traditions of libertarianism and conservatism. These people end up embracing some pretty scary positions.

3. With Michael Moore poisoning the well on the left, it's going to force an awful lot of reasonable center-left figures to take unreasonable positions to maintain their party viability. It drives back the day when the US once again has two sane political parties that reasonable people can choose between in confidence that the country isn't going to founder no matter who wins.

Michael Moore recently tried his hand at embracing patriotism. That's fine and a good thing if he jettisons the demonization along with the anti-americanism. Having a figure who can pull in huge box office numbers spreading lies and hate is bad enough but add in patriotism with the bile and you end up with the street battles of inter-bellic central europe.

I think that we're at a crossroads in this country. It could turn out quite well in the end but there's an awful lot to be concerned about.

Posted by TMLutas at July 9, 2004 04:42 PM | TrackBack

Huge box office numbers? Yes in comparison to the average movie but Spider Man has bigger numbers and it pales in comparison to the Passion of the Christ. "But it's so big for a documentary." Err it is barely a
documentary." It is huge in blue state cities but blue states will not have as many electoral votes the next go around. Red state conservatives don't have enough time to get too uncivil cause they have jobs.

Posted by: toad at July 9, 2004 11:47 PM

Michael Moore is Roman Polanski without the talent or the sexual restraint. He will probably end up in exile somewhere he says he prefers anyway, like France.

His impact is small, smaller than the splash he would make if he ever took a bath. Only the loonies sign up to his obvious fiction - other lefties are amused but inside they know the truth. It is unfortunate for them, but they will not put enough distance between themselves and this vacuous gasbag quickly enough and so will be painted with the bright yellow color that personifies Moore.

Den Beste is right, except I think Al-Sadr might be more likeable.

Posted by: Scaramonga at July 10, 2004 02:07 PM

toad - I view Michael Moore as being balanced between loyal opposition and something a bit more dangerous. I live in Indiana and the local movie house has two screens devoted to F911. He's pulling viewership far beyond the traditional lefty loonies.

Scaramonga - Exile implies a crime committed by Moore. What do you think he'll do that will cause exile? I hope that den Beste is right but fear that he is not.

Posted by: TM Lutas at July 10, 2004 04:31 PM

Having lived a significant amount of time in very blue america, I have met people who, being constantly immersed in the horribly false stereotypes of what Republicans and conservatives are and rejecting the reality of what the left has wrought, actually model their political life after the left's stereotype of what a right winger is instead of the authentic american traditions of libertarianism and conservatism. These people end up embracing some pretty scary positions.

This aspect is really frightening. Bush, Blair and Howard have put a great deal of effort into preventing the War On Terror becoming a War Over Religion.

I'm frightened that we will see a terrorist group emerge which will be to Al-Quaeda what the Ulster Freedom Fighters are to the IRA. I can foresee, for example, some nutter blowing up the Kabah during the Haj. The unfortunate deaths from the blast istelf will pale in comparison to the many millions of unnecessary deaths that would be inevitably flow from it.

Posted by: 2dogs at July 10, 2004 11:44 PM

Relax Lutas. At the ground zero of blue state America, New York City, audiences aren't impressed with f9/11 either. I saw this feedback from a New Yorker from another blog:


"It's funny, the movie drew the same response from me that the anti-McDonald's "Super Size Me" did; just like that film made me want to eat McDonalds, the F. 9/11 movie made me want to love President Bush, because it has to be true that no man quite as dumb as that could create all of the falseness and horror on display right now in this country. I left the movie feeling helpless instead of enraged, shell-bound instead of thinking I could make a difference. Not since being a young, angry kid could I remember a time when I believed that 5 people ruled the world. Never before did I feel that voting really doesn't matter. I agree with you about the what, not even worthy of a pulp novel: the mother's tears. It's amusing coming from Mr. Moore, who has said, like Jay Leno, his shadow personality, that Americans are stupid. But he expects them to follow emotional breakdowns not performed by Julia Roberts or the like. The NYC audience I was around were trying to hold back their laughter when that woman was crying, and couldn't hold it back when that helpless man from Flint said he had sent the President an email. "

And no, I don't think he is particularly conservative either. I think the fact that a lot of cinemas are showing it does not necessarily mean it is popular, nor that every swing voter watching the film will be converted to loony leftist after.

Posted by: Joel at July 11, 2004 01:11 AM

2dogs - I don't think such a group would emerge in the near term. It would require the US to give up the GWOT and suffer a few more major attacks without picking it up again. We're pretty far away from that and may we never get any closer.

Joel - I was pretty relaxed about Moore until I had a cousin who does politics professionally down in DC (on the right side of the aisle) let me know how they're feeling down there. It's not pretty. The problem isn't that Moore is going to upset the election, it is that he isn't and that Kerry is going to go down to a crushing defeat after a sizeable (for a cabal) portion of the country is convinced that Bush is a traitor and that we've lost control of our government. That's a recipe for going outside the system in a violent way and we need to watch out for that too.

The number of people who have to be convinced to upset the election is relatively large compared to the number of people convinced enough to launch a plot. How many people does it take to shoot a Senator? Or a President? We've been there before when Kerry had a front row seat to an assassination plot hatched out of VVAW. It's almost too late when you're voting on whether or not to carry the plot out. We got lucky then. I wouldn't count on only luck in future.

Posted by: TM Lutas at July 11, 2004 11:17 AM

I agree that Moore gives ammunition to the leftist haters in our midst. What is frightening is that he gives talking points to the young and ignorant and to paranoid losers.

The constant name calling of the Left against Bush is eroding our already precarious national civility.

Folks on the right had better keep their guns cleaned and oiled -- what the subversives can't obtain at the ballot box, they will try to obtain first in the courts and then in the streets.

Posted by: Margaret at July 11, 2004 02:27 PM

Or let us spin in this way Lutas. ;-) Those who hate conservatism in America also believe in gun control. Therefore they believe people (that include themselves) shouldn't be armed - and they themselves don't arm - just notice that ideological leftists don't know how to shoot a gun. So they don't have weapons. Because they have no weapons they can't stage violent rebellions. And because they can't state violent rebellions there won't be a civil war (unless you counting shouting opponents down as a violent tactics).

And being in professional political class means you are bound to meet more loony left than the usual sorts. I'm from New Zealand myself and my family has personal acquintance with many NZ politicians (that includes right up to the Prime Minister Helen Clark) and let me say that there are lots of nutty leftists moving around in that circle.

Posted by: Joel at July 11, 2004 05:23 PM

Joel - The assassination plot against pro-Vietnam war senators was real, the violent left-wing groups of the 60s like the Weathermen were real, the Unabomber was real. Color me skeptical of the left's incapacity to become violent.

Actually, I think that the likelihood of left-wing gun violence is lower than the likelihood of right-wing gun violence if they were in a similar position. The Klamath Basin crisis shows how the right tends towards violence when pushed and it's different than the left.

I would expect left wing violence would be more like ALF and ELF strikes which are predominated by fires, thrown acid, and explosives attacks. Right wingers tend to favor guns more so you have something of a point but both sides have loonies that can get pretty creative with their destructive tendencies. Both have to be watched by the sane in both coalitions.

Posted by: TM Lutas at July 11, 2004 09:23 PM

I think that we're at a crossroads in this country. It could turn out quite well in the end but there's an awful lot to be concerned about.

On a news site a ways back I read an analysis that pointed out that there are not so much red and blue states as red and blue counties, towns, and neighborhoods. Whatever the self-sorting mechanism, most people live in a self reinforcing community of political concepts and go for months or years without having a serious political conversation with some from another viewpoint. “I just don’t understand how the last election could be so close, like every one I know voted for (Bush) (Gore). What hole did those people come out of?” One of the potential results is that without cross fertilization, the assumption of mistaken good intentions for the opposition becomes lost, and worse, the extreme view from ones perspective seems mainstream. The first was happening to parts of the conservative movement during the Clinton administration. Both seem much further advanced in the liberal camp.

The Belmont Club (the Revolution in the Revolution Jue 22)has a good explanation of how the left views Bush. If Wretchard is right, with this sort of attitude there will be at least some inclined to take extra-legal or even illegal actions to either cement a Kerry victory or overturn a Bush victory. Moore is a symptom, if the left has, and I think they do, competent political operatives with similar viewpoints there could be Big problems.

PS: On 9/11 I was on the phone with our Flint MI facility when the first plane hit. Moore comes from Flint. 9/11 is the fault of Michael Moore. Well . . . it makes as much sense as anything Moore ever said.

Posted by: Hank at July 11, 2004 10:18 PM


I have known some rather far left persons in the US. Gun control means they control the guns.

Posted by: Hank at July 11, 2004 10:24 PM

Its hard to know exactly what the impact of this film is. I agree that its B.O. take pales in comparison to something like Spiderman, but it is on much fewer screens. It may set an all-time record for 'profit'; thats considering the measly amount it cost to produce - which is pretty impressive. Consider that this is an audience that is more likely to vote; I mean, in comparison to Spiderman's.

But the important thing may be what happens when it goes to DVD and begins to be rented out from video stores all across the nation? I think without the 'debunking' from political pundits, ordinary people are likely to find this film quite convincing.

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