5 July 2004
NEW YORK - Michael Moore's blockbuster hit, `Fahrenheit 9/11,' may not be an epochal political film, like `Battelship Potempkin,' or `The Battle of Algiers,' but it certainly ranks as the most exciting and searing American political movie since the superb, eerily prophetic `Wag the Dog.'
In fact, `Wag the Dog' and `Fahrenheit' make perfect bookends encompassing the fraud, dishonesty, and Orwellian manipulation of George W. Bush's failed presidency. Moore keeps turning over Washington rocks, exposing with furious intensity a squirming, slithering underside of deceit and illicit dealings that will outrage thoughtful, educated viewers. Some of the accusations he makes are dead on target; others, questionable, at best.
Core supporters of George W who study whose understanding of geography was formed at the International House of Pancakes, and whose knowledge of world affairs through Chuck Norris movies, Rush Limbaugh's eructations, and the Bible's book of Revelations, are unlikely to rush to see `Fahrenheit,' which their pastors will warn them is the latest manifestation of `liberal' evil to menace America.
Ironically, Bush supporters are angrily accusing Moore of over-simplifying, using meaningless slogans, emotionally rabble-rousing, and concocting false accusations all of the things the current administration did in spades.
No one will ever accuse the angry Michael Moore of finesse or subtly. He attacks George W. and his White House cronies with a cinematographic shovel. Moore's Bush comes out looking stupid, inert, and fuddled.
This column has always had a low opinion of the president's intellect, but it's hard to believe that Bush, who, after all, won the presidency, is quite as dense as the film portrays him. Taking film clips and parts of speeches out of context can, as Gov. Howard Dean can sadly attest, make anyone look rabid or stupid.
Nor does this column buy Moore's contention Bush is merely the tool of evil big business, and the Iraq War a money grab by Halliburton and the sinister Carlyle Group. Life in Washington is far more complex than this simplistic view. Big business certainly takes advantage of every opportunity, and sways governments, Republicans, or Democrats. But the Second Iraq War was not started by Enron's Ken Lay or the board of Chevron. Moore is rehashing old, anti-capitalist agitprop from the Democratic Party's liberal left.
By contrast, Moore did a smashing job in capturing the zeitgeist of the Bush Administration's fear-mongering that terrorized unworldly Americans into believing they were in mortal peril, and only the president could save them. Moore clearly smells the first rank whiffs of proto-fascist behavior coming from the White House. I wish he made the disturbing contrast between 9/11 and the ensuing anti-democratic Patriot Act, and the Reichstag burning of 1933 that led to the Emergency and Enabling Acts ending Germany's civil liberties.
Unfortunately, Moore's sweeping attack on the self-proclaimed `war president' totally ignores the 900-lb gorilla at the tea party: the neoconservative conspiracy to push America into the disastrous Iraq war.
The entire phony Iraq crisis weapons of mass destruction, germ labs, dire threats to America were all concocted by neocons as part of their long-term campaign to push America into a Mideast war to destroy Israel's enemies. That, and the lust to control oil, were the two driving forces behind the war.
Moore's spotlight should have pointed at the Administration neocon cabal, led by VP Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby, Richard Perle and their media allies who fed false information to the White House and public. And at their mouthpiece, that Father of Liars, Ahmed Chalabi. Alas, the only reference to this cabal was a truly nauseating little clip of Wolfowitz licking his comb.
This column was also disappointed Moore didn't spend more time pounding the national media. He took only a few shots at the big networks for parroting Administration war propaganda.
The neocon conspiracy and its manipulation of national media is the most shocking story of the Iraq War.
Instead, Moore allows the final third of `Fahrenheit' to drag and get bogged down in maudlin personal stories from Flint, Michigan instead of keep up the first part's furious pace and shocking revelations.
The film is heavy-handed and occasionally unfair. At times it seems like a runaway train. `Fahrenheit' too often loses focus and credibility by wildly flailing when a rapier is called for. But it is still a powerful counterbalance to all the propaganda shamefully force-fed to the American public by the national media was overdue and desperately needed.
Until recently, American have heard only one side of the story, which, we are discovering, was a tapestry of lies worthy of Dr Goebbels. Kudos to Moore for helping bring some bright light into the propaganda darkness.