– Michael Moore
Strange things happen when the world of entertainment crashes into politics. Remember those “Rock the Vote” scandals a few years back? Big celebrities like Madonna and Jewel sermonized to young people about voting; the press then discovered that these proselytizing celebrities weren’t registered to vote themselves. Before that, there was Vice President Dan Quayle’s debate with the television character Murphy Brown, and before that, Ronald Reagan’s mixing up movies and reality during press conferences. So perhaps it comes as no surprise that after a Washington, D.C., showing of Fahrenheit 9/11 to leading Democrats-including Tom Daschle, who is vilified in the movie-John Kerry tried to use the movie in his campaign. Asked what he would have done had he received the news that “America was under attack” the way George W. Bush did during a photo-op with children in a Florida elementary school, Kerry stated, “I would have told those kids very politely and nicely that the president of the United States had something he needed to attend to.”
It’s clear that the reporter’s question and Kerry’s response were references to Fahrenheit 9/11. Indeed, one of the more peculiar scenes in that film captures Bush sitting for seven minutes, after his chief of staff delivers the awful news of the World Trade Center attack, while kids read “The Pet Goat.” Moore’s narration speculates about what Bush was thinking (including, doubtfully, that he was worried his ties to Saudi Arabia might be investigated). At the least, Bush looks indecisive and out of his league. Kerry tried to put that scene to good use in building up his credibility on the question of terrorism. For anyone who doubts entertainment and politics have merged today, just visit the front page of Moore’s Web site where, at the time of this writing, Kerry’s quote was featured prominently.
Kerry’s statement was not one of his best. It sounded petty; it made too much of personal style, not substantive policy disagreement. Worse yet, Kerry was taking cues from movies rather than from serious thinking about what Bush did wrong after 9/11. Kerry had plenty of better cases to make against Bush.
I know that the left wants to rally together as we head toward November. I know that criticism of a big shot on the left is frowned upon at this momentous hour. But let’s not forget a lesson that we should have learned from the historical success of the right. Yes, the right has been unified for a number of years, but it has also blasted the crazies-the John Birch Society or southern racists-in order to define the bounds of unity. There’s no reason we can’t be unified and still debate within our ranks. We need to take on the...
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