Michael Moore Apologists Are Not What We Need
by Richard Oxman
October 20, 2003
Bless Amy Goodman; she rocks relative to the mainstream outlets, one must admit. But what happens to her when she leaves the likes of Tariq Ali and dwells in the house of the more celebrated guests? To wit, Michael Moore seems to bring out the ga-ga in Amy, the giggly girl, to use the vernacular. With Ali there's nothing much questionable that arises; he speaks the straight word, and he has the bearing and background to obviate the need to question confrontationally. But Moore's in a whole different world, and more's the pity that Amy loses it under such circumstances.
First of all, with the very announcement that Goodman will interview Moore, progressives from Maine to Schwarzenegger are chomping at the bit to see what she'll make of Moore's recent indiscretion vis-à-vis Wesley. But she disappoints. Spending almost the entire time on the questions he wants to confront Bush with -- the foundation of his new book's structure, as I understand it -- and allowing him to rip off his "Aint Bush Awful & Don't He Deserve An Inquiry" comments -- all part of the progressive public record (and for much of which Gore Vidal and others should be given credit) -- our loveable Democracy Dame leaves only a few minutes to address the truly damnable.
Why did he encourage Wesley to run? The hackneyed lines go unchallenged. Does he know Clark has demonstrated that he lacks humanity by any standards? We're informed that Mike liked a few things he said about something innocuous. And we're told that Baseball Cap had the Kosovo abominations highlighted in his highly successful Bowling flick. That's said as if it's supposed to address the subject, not raise even more questions. But, bottom-line, how could he have anything to do with him? Somehow we drift to a commentary on Oprah wherein it's underscored that she wouldn't be a bad choice as a leader since she'd surely have us all up and exercising with a smile on our faces. That's Oprah, the hostess with the mostess (and greatest Bush/Friedman/Schwarzenegger quotient on TV), Oprah of the mindless. Moore of the same. Sun, moon, stars, rain…and how does Amy begin to explain how leftists are apt to forget to remember with up so floating, many bells down?
But does Mike know that W.C. initiated "one of the biggest barbarities that can be committed against humanity"? He of the Nascar set replies in his best NRA drawl (laughing heartily as he imitates a critic), "But, Mike, he's the Butcher of Kosovo!" Don't know where Amy went, but the next thing I know Mike's saying "Well, maybe we need a 'Butcher of Kosovo' to butcher Bush!" Amy's still there, but nowhere to be found. I'm stupefied that he's going to get away with voicing that damaging dribble. But he does. And Raphael Lemkin is rolling over in his grave.
I've seen that kind of thing before on Democracy Now! when Tim Robbins was a guest. Again, bless Tim Robbins, but let's not make believe that he hasn't committed a sin of sins when he asserts that although he's dead set against the Iraqi genocide, he was for the invasion of Afghanistan. He didn't make that statement on Amy's show, but he did say it prior to his appearance a couple of places, including Phil Donahue's program. And that's something, again, that we need to confront amongst those of us who are left.
Why? Because as much good as Moore has done, as much dedication Amy has given us, and as much as Tim has accomplished, people overseas will continue to be starved, tortured and bombed to death with what's left of our tax money…as long as we don't call a war criminal a war criminal, force the barbarians to face trial, and cease doing the celebrity fandango with supporters of war crimes. It's time to take a little of the easy-listening partisan talk out of the Oprah Room (Did I just hear the NPR theme music commence?), and begin to ask the very hard questions all of the time. As hard as it was to write this.
Richard Oxman is co-organizer of OneDance: The People's Summit and the "Hunger for Peace Strike" for 2004, both of which will make a Bush re-election unlikely. He can be reached at email@example.com
* Excerpt from Democracy Now! interview with Michael Moore
Like, You Know, Maybe We Need a Butcher
October 15, 2003
AMY GOODMAN: Michael Moore, you have called for Oprah to run for president and also Wesley Clark. Talk about each.
MICHAEL MOORE: Failing Oprah, Wesley Clark. Well, Oprah, you know, America loves Oprah. See, this is our problem. We don’t have—they run Arnold Schwarzenegger, they run Ronald Reagan. You know, they run these people that the American people, you know, like for some reason. They connect to them. They’re stars or whatever. We have people on our side, too. Oprah’s got good politics, she’s got a good heart, and she’ll have us all up Jazzercising at six in the morning. This cannot be a bad thing, and reading a book while we’re Jazzercising. So America would be better off if Oprah were president.
Now, Wesley Clark, you know, I think, you know, look, we’ve—Bush has got to go. Bush has got to go. Now, I don’t see that meaning anybody but bush. I just don’t think that’s a good position to take. Sometimes we’re worse off when we have a Democrat in there who is, you know, saying he’s a Democrat, but, you know, acting like a Republican. I think, you know, and most of the Democrats, let’s face it, they’re funded by the same people that fund the Republicans. This is two sides of the same coin, and oftentimes the Democrats, they talk a nicer line. They’re for the people, they’re for the unions. They’re for all this. And that’s why they’re able to get away, in some cases, like with Clinton, with much worse stuff.
You know, the best example I have, I know personally is just in my own hometown of Flint, Michigan. Flint was devastated during the Reagan and Bush years, but we lost many more jobs during the Clinton-Gore years. And was really—the nail was put in the coffin during a time we had a Democratic president in office, and he completely ignored places like Flint, Michigan. But I think we’re at a real crisis situation here with Bush. And so we’ve got to figure out, what can we do to beat this guy?
And I think the American people, first of all, they hate politicians. The recall in California, if there was a recall election in the other 49 states, they’d probably like to recall everybody right now.
People are angry. The economy is not good. They were lied to about Iraq. I mean, there’s an angry electorate out there, and they’re in the mood to get rid of these people, especially the professional politicians. They would rather vote for somebody who has no experience than to vote for somebody who has the experience with this sort of thing. Clark, I heard him speak here a couple of months ago, and he said these things, and I thought, this should be out there. People should know about this, the one I mentioned earlier, about the calls that he got after 9-11, trying to connect, you know, to 9-11. And he also said that generals at the Pentagon were calling him before the Iraq war saying, get out there and try and convince people, you know, we don’t want this war. The Pentagon really didn’t want this war. They were dragged into this by Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, that whole crowd there that’s running the Bush administration. The professional military people knew this was a mistake. It violated their Powell doctrine, which is don’t start any war that you don’t know the way out. There’s no plan here. They knew there was no plan. Now they’re in it. Now they’re in it and they’re stuck in it, and they don’t know how they’re going to get out of it.
And so, you know, I heard Clark say these things, and I heard him, you know, he was pro-choice, you know, on stronger environmental laws, and he went down the whole list of things. I just saw him on C-SPAN here a week ago where he was asked about medical marijuana, which he said he supports the states who say that that’s OK, that it’s OK for the people to use it for that. Somebody asked him, do you support the constitutional amendment that says married chastity between a man and a woman, he said no. I mean, he’s willing to take these positions. I don’t know if the guy would be any good. I don’t know if he’s the right person. I’m not endorsing him. There’s a lot of good things about Dean. There’s a lot of good things—you know, Kucinich is probably the closest to me, you know, politically in terms of the ten— or now, nine—announced candidates.
AMY GOODMAN: I guess what surprised so many people when you sent out your letter, and now in your book, on Wesley Clark, I don’t think people were surprised that he ran for president, but that he’s called the anti-war worrier, that this is the man who said the rest of the world has got to get with us, this is the man who presided over the bombing of Yugoslavia.
MICHAEL MOORE: Well, yeah, I put it in “Bowling for Columbine,” I’m so upset still about what happened in Kosovo, it’s in my movie. I found a way to work it into a gun movie and draw the connections between the largest—the day the largest bombing took place in Kosovo was on the day of the Columbine massacre. So, I’m very concerned about that. And I’d like to hear his answers about that. I’d like to hear, you know, exactly what happened. And I read the story in the “New York Times” last week that offered a whole different explanation of what I’d been reading on the internet.
So I don’t know. I mean, I think that’s why—I just thought he should be in the debates, and we should hear what he has to say. And I think any time we’ve got a four-star general that seems to be on our side, you know, we should accept that. And people say, well, Mike, you know, he said he voted for Reagan. I say, well, yeah, so did most of America. If one of them wants to come over to our side, shouldn’t we have open arms and say, well, you know what, OK, maybe this guy screwed up in the past, maybe, you know, he’s not done the right thing or whatever. But jeez, you know, he said he’s going to do this, and this and that, and he stands for these things. You know, let’s hear the guy out, let’s have him in the debates. I think it’s a good thing.
Well, Mike, he’s the butcher of Kosovo. Maybe that’s what we need right now is a butcher. We need the butcher of Bush. I mean, I don’t know. Again, I’m not—it’s not an endorsement, but it’s like, what do we do, Amy, people like us? Because you got somebody like Dean. OK, Dean is great on all this stuff, but I met with Dean, he told me that he supports the death penalty— in three different cases he would allow the death penalty. He won’t cut the Pentagon budget. You know, you go down the whole list of things, and I just think, jeez, you know, what do we do about it? How much do we have to compromise and keep compromising to find the right person?