Sunday, January 25, 2004

Michael Moore, Big Screw-Up

Michael Moore -- God love 'im! I've applauded his movies, Roger and Me and Bowling for Columbine. I liked his two TV shows, even while the Washington Post's TV critic Tom Shales hated them and seemed to have a vendetta against Moore personally. I have Michael Moore's website book-marked on my computer.

But golly, this guy is a screw-up! His Oscar acceptance speech for Bowling for Columbine was wince-inducing and wildly inappropriate. There's a time and a place, Mike, and it's not as though we'll think you've gone all soft on the president if you don't embarrass yourself at the podium of Make Believe and Make Nice. You did not make nice! And I dare say you didn't actually end up helping the effort.

And then there was the endorsement of Ralph Nader in 2000, which you can't seem to stop NOT apologizing for. If you'd gone on one more sentence about why you endorsed Nader and why you weren't sorry about it in Stupid White Men, we'd have thrown the book against the wall. You did it. You screwed up.

Now comes the most egregious screw-up of all, and I'm not talking about your endorsement of Wesley Clark. You can obviously endorse whomever you want, and DO (though I have to tell ya: if my endorsed candidate turned around on national television, not once but twice, as Clark has now done, and disavowed your attack on George Bush as a "deserter," when the general himself, Peter Jennings, and now Tim Russert all know good and well exactly what you were talking about when you used the hyperbolic word "deserter" -- then I think I might be reevaluating my endorsement).

Which is, as a matter of fact, what Michael Moore is so obviously and painfully doing ... regretting that he ever endorsed Clark. Or else the email he has sent out to Dean supporters is just one more example of his penchant for shambling into Screwupville. Michael Moore's email message was dated January 20th and titled "Dean Supporters, Don't Give Up." It opened this way:

This morning I picked up the newspaper and read this quote from a young woman who had worked as a volunteer for Howard Dean in Iowa:

"All the phone-calling we did, we'd have people who'd say, 'I'm a Dean supporter, I'm a Dean supporter,' " said Kelly Chambers, Dr. Dean's captain in Precinct No. 83. "But when it came to caucus night, we only had 11 people show up for Dean. It just seems like all my hard work's been for nothing."

I was crushed when I read this. Her despair, her sense of "what's the use?" was something I'm sure many Dean supporters are feeling today. I can see, just from surfing the web, the debilitating affect the landslide loss in Iowa had on so many people who had placed so much hope in the man who created a grassroots revolution and was unrelenting in his attacks on Bush and on the war. If having the most volunteers, the most money (all small contributions from average citizens), and the boldest message can't win an election, say Dean's followers, then we might as well just give up.

As one who does not support Dean, I would like to say this to you: DON'T GIVE UP. You have done an incredible thing. You inspired an entire nation to stand up to George W. Bush. Your impact on this election will be felt for years to come. Every bit of energy you put into Dr. Dean's candidacy was -- and is -- worth it. He took on Bush when others wouldn't. He put corporate America on notice that he is coming after them. And he called the Democrats out for what they truly are: a bunch of spineless, wishy-washy appeasers who have sold out the working people of America. Everyone in every campaign owes you and your candidate a huge debt of thanks.

Though I am backing Clark...


Whoa whoa whoa! "Though I am backing Clark ... Howard Dean really has my heart"? "Though I am backing Clark ... I already have reason to regret that decision"? "Though I am backing Clark ... the real soul of American courage is in the Dean campaign"? "I am crushed that the man MY man is running against is losing"? WHAT the hell do we make of this? I frankly HOPE it's a veiled show of regret and not what it otherwise HAS to be ... a ridiculous, pathetic, fawning pitch for those "discouraged Deaniacs" to dry their tears and come on over to the Clark bus.

Because THAT would be insulting. Because THAT would be condescending in a way that Michael Moore, of all people, would NOT want to be caught being. Because THAT is so offensively patronizing -- "Hang onto the life-raft, little Kelly Chambers of Precinct No. 83! Hang on til morning comes, and dry those tears, 'cause I'll just be reeling you in here to my guy's side, 'cause such heartbreaking suffering for truth and justice should not go unrewarded by my superior sympathy!"

Sheesh! Even more embarrassing than the Oscar acceptance speech.

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