The Body-Snatchers Have Arrived
First Casualty, Documentary Filmmaker Michael Moore
by Rustie Woods
October 6, 2003
Editor’s Note: The following letter is a reply to two articles by documentary filmmaker and author Michael Moore. In the first article (9/12), Moore beseeches General Wesley Clark to run against George W. Bush for the presidency in 2004. The second article (9/23) was written a few days after Clark declared his candidacy
I had been waiting patiently, with eager anticipation and perplexed by each passing day of silence. One of the most important Democratic primaries is looming. We have an over abundance of candidates to ponder. Over four months have passed since the first debate and nothing, not a peep comes from Michael Moore. Certainly the prospect of having a truly progressive Democrat in the race is noteworthy. And yet not one word from the left-liberal celebrity who never before has appeared shy about sharing his political thoughts and views with us. Not one single utterance about Dennis Kucinich. Even the Greens are talking about him with interest, but not Michael Moore. Why? It made no sense. And then the letter came.
As if lightening had struck, suddenly (and coincidently within five days of an official announcement) you held before us the miracle. This is what you had been waiting for, the candidate worthy of mention and destined to win. The General. And you asked us, for the sake of the “jolt” to the race, to encourage your buddy Wes to run for the presidential nomination. In truth however, he needed little encouragement. The only thing that had been an uncertainty for Wesley Clark was with which party he was going to make his presidential run. Karl Rove seemed to take care of that decision and Clark, being the political mercenary that he is, suddenly became a Democrat. 
Now I realize that you state, repeatedly, that you are not endorsing any candidate at this time. So why the Wesley Clark push? You briefly mention Dennis Kucinich and acknowledge that he is saying all the right things. Yet, it appears that you have marginalized him. You give lip service to the idea of needing candidates in the race who will “say the things that need to be said, to push the pathetically lame Democratic Party into having a backbone....” However when a candidate of this stature exists you relegate him to the rank of spice in the soup. You suggest that we coerce the spineless candidates to sound like the one with backbone.
You pontificate to us about the anti-war, war hero Wesley Clark and the liberal, anti-liberal Howard Dean. Neither candidate is saying the right things except that they oppose the Iraq war, as does everyone else who has jumped on the “vote me” for president merry-go-round. None of them will cut the Pentagon budget. None of them will bring the troops home and cede authority in Iraq to the United Nations. None of them will bring us universal health care. None of them will cancel NAFTA. None of them will do any of this, except Dennis Kucinich. It would appear that you consider the spineless candidates to be better contenders. However it is clear, by what they tell us, that they will be inferior providers.
I read in disbelief your passing comments about the privileged Yale graduate Howard Dean. Here we have a candidate who comes from three generations of patrician, Republican investment bankers from Park Ave. What do you think Howard Dean knows, or cares for that matter, about the plight of the working class? Yet this guy is being dubbed the “liberal” democrat and you, of all people, actually like him; “I have liked Howard Dean (in spite of his flawed positions in support of some capital punishment, his grade "A" rating from the NRA, and his opposition to cutting the Pentagon budget).” I am still waiting to hear what you like about him. I am also curious how you manage to reconcile yourself with his dubious record during his tenure as Vermont’s Governor on issues such as the environment, public education, welfare reform, corporate conglomerate takeover and let’s not forget his position on Middle East policy. In case you have neglected to do your homework about Dean and these issues here are a few sources to start you off:
And once again it appears that you are willing to look the other way, ignore the facts and delude yourself and your readers with myth. We recently saw this done quite successfully and abhorrently in the Jessica Lynch scenario. I speak of, among many things, your glowing comments about how Clark “respect[s] the views of our allies and want[s] to work with them and with the rest of the international community.” Are you unfamiliar with Clark’s comments on CNN (01/21/03) where he stated, “I think that the president is going to have to move ahead, despite the fact that the allies have reservations." And in a subsequent interview on CNN (02/05/03) he stated, "we're going to go ahead and do this and the rest of the world's got to get with us....” (emphasis added) Do you not hear the familiar sounds of Bush’s mantra “you’re either with us or against us” echoing in this comment? I fail to follow the thread from these statements that brings you to conclude that Clark “respects the views of our allies and wants to work with them”. Rather than respecting our allies, Mr. Clark’s sentiments demonstrate an alignment with the pontificating and bullying of our allies that Mr. Bush is so fond of.
You attempt to sell us a general that opposes war and believes that war should always be the “last resort”. Yet I see very little evidence to substantiate this. I know you are aware that four years ago General Clark waged a war against Yugoslavia. This was a war that by no means was necessary, even as a “last resort”. Strikingly similar to Iraq, the motives for that war were shaky and the postwar consequences equally problematic. Clark’s words at the beginning of the bombing campaign established the tone for the alliance’s tough line with Milosevic, “We’re going to systematically and progressively attack, disrupt, degrade, devastate and ultimately, unless President Milosevic complies with the demands of the international community, we’re going to destroy his forces and their facilities and support.” When you consider that the Kosovo Peace Accord of June 3, 1999 eliminated much of the unreasonable “demands” that Clark referred to, and, instead embodies a great deal of the Serb National Assembly Resolution that was presented at Rambouillet on March 23rd, you cannot help but conclude that Clark’s war cry was excessive to the situation at hand. Nonetheless on March 24th Clark unleashed what allies touted as a stunning bombing campaign. He proceeded to destroy bridges, schools, hospitals, passenger trains, buses, refugee camps and marketplaces: in short, most of the civilian infrastructure. With or without the use of ground troops, this war was not a “last resort”. In fact it is well documented that our military engagement in Yugoslavia, from day one, served only to escalate the ethnic cleansing, refugee evictions and other atrocities that were taking place.
While you are correct to note that “the war we are in NOW is not called Kosovo, but Iraq”, you are somewhat shortsighted in your attempt to dismiss Clark’s role in the Kosovo war as irrelevant to the matters currently at hand. The mettle of an individual and what they stand for is more aptly measured by their actions rather than their words, particularly when there is an inconsistency between the two. I believe that Clark’s past performance is of vital importance and is relevant to the crucial questions being asked today about Iraq.
You tell us that Wesley Clark says that he will stop the Iraq war and that he is offering to be an advocate for peace. On June 17, 2003, when speaking at the New Democratic Network’s annual meeting in Washington, Clark was asked about the “Vietnamization” of Iraq. He responded by saying that what he thinks we need to do is “number one: establish legitimacy.”  Legitimize what? Our pre-emptive, unilateral strike that started the war, our complete disregard of the U.N., or perhaps he thinks we should legitimize our ongoing occupation in Iraq. Clark unfortunately did not convey any clear insight into his idea about establishing legitimacy. He did however continue to address the NDN on the subject, explaining that he would first go to the United Nations and say, “Look, we know you don’t have a security force. We’ll finish the job, we’ll work for security. We want you to come in and we want you to really help us work the reconstruction and the redevelopment of Iraq.”  So the General’s proposal to deal with the situation in Iraq and bring peace is to first legitimize. Then we should ask the U.N. to come in and help us clean up our legitimate mess. “Help us” clearly indicates a continued U.S. presence. And, correct me if I’m wrong here, but I didn’t hear anything about ceding authority. Do you think this plan will have a better chance if Clark were to present it to the U.N.? I ask because Bush isn’t having much luck with this particular agenda. Maybe new dog, old trick would work. Somehow I doubt it.
And while we are on the topic of national security issues, it would be negligent of me not to point out Clark’s position on the Patriot Act and the U.S. military. “I think the Patriot Act needs a good, open air, public review, in the sunshine, before we retain it or modify it, or add to it.”  Did you catch those words, retain, modify or add? Nothing said about rescinding. And doesn’t the word “add” leave you with that sinking feeling? What could you possibly add to the Patriot Act that would make it better? Moving on to our military, “Yes, we’ve got to have the strongest military in the world, and we’ve got it now and we should do everything we can to protect it, preserve it, and continue to strengthen it.”  I don’t suppose there’s much room here to consider cutting the Pentagon budget; after all we need to be strengthening what already is the strongest military in the world. Spoken like a true general.
Enlighten me Michael. At what point were you convinced of Clark’s integrity and fearlessness to speak the truth? Was it when he insinuated on Meet the Press (06/15/03) that he received a call from the White House asking him to connect Saddam Hussein with the September 11 terrorist attacks, but refused due to lack of evidence? 
Also impressive was Clark’s updated version two weeks later when pressured by Sean Hannity on FOX, “And I personally got a call from a fellow in Canada who is part of a Middle Eastern think tank who gets inside intelligence information. He called me on 9/11.”  And while we’re on the subject we would be remiss to leave out the third version of the phone call incident. Clark’s personal letter, July 18, 2003, to the New York Times “correcting any possible misunderstanding” regarding the White House call. “I received a call from a Middle East think tank outside the country… No one from the White House asked me to link Saddam Hussein to Sept 11.”  It must be difficult to remember all of the details when being so honest and forthright. And as luck would have it Wesley Do-Right’s final version of the infamous phone call is also under suspicion.  It is highly probable that this incident never happened. So let’s look elsewhere to establish Clark’s integrity. I suppose that his assertion during his CNN interview (02/05/03) that the credibility of the U.S. is on the line, “and Saddam Hussein has these weapons…” would be more of that honest straight talk you find so refreshing in the General. This, by the way, is just one of several unequivocal assertions by Clark that Hussein’s WMD exist and will be found.  And let us not forget his September 18, 2003 interview, when he said that he would have supported the Congressional resolution that authorized the United States to invade Iraq , juxtaposed against his September 19, 2003 speech at the University of Iowa when he said, “Let’s make one thing real clear, I would never have voted for this war.”  Perhaps the General is honestly confused.
Apparently you too are no stranger to confusion. Or is it just that your new-found hero gets you gushing like a schoolboy whose head clouds and common sense evaporates when the girl of his dreams speaks to him, regardless of the words spoken. When asked about his position on gun control you were impressed with his answer, “If you are the type of person who likes assault weapons we have a place for you, the United States Army.” Wake up Mr. Academy Award winning “Bowling for Columbine,” gun control advocate. The girl of your dreams has just ignored your important question. This is a non-answer Michael. The question is; what is your position on gun control, not, where can people go who like assault weapons. I still have no idea what Wesley’s position is on gun control, do you?
The fact that Clark was a hard-line Republican who voted for Nixon, Reagan and Bush and was heralding Reagan’s cold war actions and Bush’s foreign policy at Republican fundraisers as recently as two years ago apparently is of no consequence to you. Equally lacking your attention is the infinitesimal step that he has taken from the Republican corner to the DLC Democrat corner. I don’t understand how someone who is as savvy to media spin-doctors, political lies and corporate thuggery as you are, has found yourself taken in by the likes of Mr. Clark, the DLC Dems and corporate America. How could you, of all people, with a staff of researchers and your proven ability to uncover the awful truths, have “spent a lot of time” checking out Wesley Clark and have missed so much fundamental information about the ethics, integrity and background of this man? Or could it be that you too have learned the subtle art of spinning facts into fairytales to support myths?
It is disheartening for me to think that you would use your celebrity to promote a candidate as antithetical to Ralph Nader as Bush is to Dennis Kucinich. Perhaps you too have fallen victim to the fear mentality, perpetuated by our media, designed to obliterate logical, intelligent thought and critical judgment. Or perhaps it is time to keep a suspicious eye on Michael Moore.
If I sound harsh it is because I believe that we are in harsh, dangerous times. Our future looks grim when someone like Michael Moore sends the message that we must lower our expectations. We are at an historical crossroads in American politics. If our champions in the fight for social and economic justice and equality begin advocating that the right-wing element within the Democratic Party is acceptable, we have forfeited the game and lost the battle.
Meanwhile, we have a candidate running on the Democratic ticket, who by your own account Michael, “is so committed to all the right stuff”. He continually “states clearly” what he is going to do on most of the issues. This is something you specify as necessary before getting behind any candidate. And, we don’t have to tell him what to say, unlike the other candidates (Dean) whom you so aptly point out need to be molded by us. Dennis Kucinich is already saying, and doing, all the right stuff. Kucinich has repeatedly, from day one, voted in Congress against the Iraq war, against the Patriot Act, and against tax cuts for the wealthy. He is pro-choice and pro-labor. He is literally the only candidate that will rescind the Patriot Act, cancel NAFTA and the WTO, end capital punishment, cut the Pentagon budget, remove our troops from Iraq, stop the Drug Wars, replace drug criminalization with drug treatment and implement a non-profit universal health care system for all members of society. He doesn’t hedge, side step or dance around any of these issues, unlike all the other candidates. Dennis supports the Kyoto Treaty and will initiate a Global Green Deal for renewable energy. He will improve and guarantee education from pre-K to college, bring jobs back to the U.S. and establish a Department of Peace. Willie Nelson said it succinctly in his endorsement of Dennis Kucinich, “he stands up for the heartland of Americans.” Throughout his political career his actions continue to speak louder than his words. Dennis Kucinich does not mouth platitudes and make empty promises. He does the work, stands by his word and gets the job done. And, he is the only candidate who has repeatedly beat entrenched, better-funded, Republican incumbents. So why do you dismiss him as nothing more than a pump-primer to clean out the Democratic Party? Why not support the real deal rather than the DLC say-anything doll?
The important question here Michael is not has Dennis Kucinich “done the work needed to convince the majority of Americans to vote for [him]”, as you try to present. But rather, why are you trying so hard to convince the majority of Americans not to vote for him? You suggest that we should be making our voices heard and influencing these candidates to take the right position. Yet your own words tell us that Kucinich has already taken the right position. If Howard Dean says that he is not going to cut the Pentagon budget or call for a moratorium on the death penalty, and if Wesley Clark tells us that he is not going to repeal the Patriot Act or decriminalize marijuana, why should we influence them to change their positions? Those are their positions. The point is that their positions do not represent the needs, concerns and demands of society. I have a better idea. Why not just vote for the person who will cut the Pentagon budget, end the death penalty, repeal the Patriot Act, decriminalize (medical) marijuana and follow the will of the people? You know as well as I do who that person is. So why are you doing everything possible to marginalize him? The more I read of your writings on the presidential hopefuls the more you begin to resemble the convoluted, manipulative, ill logic of FOX, NBC and the rest of the gang at mind control central.
I do however agree with you whole-heartedly that A) Bush must go and B) this sentiment rings loud and clear, unanimously throughout America. Logically, it would then follow that our job is not to find someone who resembles Bush but isn’t quite as offensive. Our job is to carefully select the candidate who will work to restore this country and bring us closer than we have ever been to a true democracy. Our job is to set the standards that we expect. Our job is to relentlessly demand that those standards are met. Our job is to unite in solidarity, and with resolve, with those who have a proven track record in fighting against the war on the middle class, the poor, the environment, the war on women and the war against anyone around the world who doesn’t accept total American domination. You and I know that person is not Wesley Clark. He is not the general “who will beat back those who have abused our Constitution and our basic sense of decency.” In fact Michael, you and I know that Wesley Clark, and Howard Dean, will continue to play ball with the abusers that you speak of.
I believe that you were correct when you wrote that we are “in a time of war (at home)”. However this is not a battle that will be won by the leadership of a four star general flexing America’s muscle and keeping the rest of the world in its place. The war at home will be won only by our continued vigilance and the leadership of a visionary whose commitment to public service, peace, human rights, workers rights, and the environment has been proven. There is but one candidate that I know of who embodies this: Dennis Kucinich. Don’t take my word for it, research him for yourself and see what he stands for, what his background is and what he has accomplished in his political career. Certainly he is not without his faults. However disingenuousness is not one of them. To quote human rights activist and co-founder of Global Exchange Medea Benjamin, “He’s [Kucinich] so genuine, you wonder how this guy ever got to Congress.” 
Several months ago Ralph Nader stated that if Dennis Kucinich won the Democratic nomination he would see no reason to run on the Green ticket. There are a great many voting Americans who will not sell themselves short and compromise their principles for the insurance policy of “anyone other than Bush”. They realize that simply swapping one corporate controlled monkey for another does not get the job done.
Martin Luther King Jr. stood steadfast for something he believed in. He fought for a society where economic and social justice, equality and opportunity for all people would prevail. Dr. King did not compromise his ethics. He was a true leader who put his life on the line for a better future, for you and me and generations to follow. There are many of us today who continue in the tradition of Dr. King, keeping our eyes on the prize, willing to sacrifice, unwilling to compromise and determined to win.
It is difficult at this stage of the game to know whose court you’re playing ball in. However, it does appear that you are suiting up with the fear-mongers and mythmakers. So as you said Michael, let the games begin. When the bell rings and Bush is defeated my only hope is that we, the people, will not have found ourselves having squandered a great opportunity to have realized our dream.
1) Howard Fineman, “Campaign 2004: Clark’s Charge,” MSNBC–Newsweek, September 29, 2003 Issue.
2) New Democratic Network Annual Meeting, June 17, 2003. Audience question re: Vietnamization of Iraq.
4) Ibid. Audience question re” Patriot Act.
5) Ibid. Speech
6) “Media Silent on Clark's 9/11 Comments: Gen. says White House pushed Saddam link without evidence,” FAIR Media Advisory, June 20, 2003.
7) “Wesley Clark and Terry McAuliffe,” (Version Two), The Weekly Standard, August 25, 2003 issue.
8) Clark’s letter, published in the New York Times, August 13, 2003.
9) “Wesley Clark, BuzzFlash.com, Dave Barry ” (Clark’s Source Revealed), The Weekly Standard, September 29, 2003 issue.
11) Adam Nagourney, “Clark Says He Would Have Voted for War,” New York Times, September 19, 2003.
12) Mike Glover, “Democratic candidate seeks to clarify comments on Iraq Resolution,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 19, 2003.
13) Adriel Hampton, “Kucinich gets Green support,” San Francisco Examiner, August 01, 2003.