AlterNet: Movie Mix: By Way of Deception

Fang-Face writes "Following up the non-library story of interest that is Michael Moore's film: Stuart Klawans, of The Nation, had his review of Fahrenheit 9/11 posted to Alternet.org. All will not like it, of course, but there is one anamolous factor in the controversy Klawans notes:

For clarity's sake, then, let's start with the politics: the film's bill of particulars against Bush, and also against the Democratic leadership, which in Moore's view has colluded most shamefully in the misrule the world now suffers. [...] Moore's antagonists, being Republican, won't go so easy on him. Their attacks will no doubt include the charge that his film is Democratic Party propaganda. You should understand from the preceding the flimsiness of this accusation --

Moore apparently didn't criticize Bush alone, he bashed the whole government and the part played by the Democrats. "

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Moore & Democrats

Moore apparently didn't criticize Bush alone, he bashed the whole government and the part played by the Democrats."

So what are we supposed to infer from this? That the film is therefore even-handed, balanced, fair? As I noted in my journal, Ralph Nader asserts that Moore has sold out the the Democratic establishment:

Last night [Moore] hosted the Washington, DC premiere of Fahrenheit 9/11, and who was there? The Democratic political establishment, the same people whom he took to such mocking task on the road with us in campaign rally after campaign rally in 2000. Who was not there? His old buddies! Not personally invited, not personally hung out with.

It would be interesting to see a list of those in attendence at the Fahrenheit 9/11 premiere--perhaps there is no merit in Nader's criticism. We know from CNN that Daschle and Boxer were in attendence. These are establishment Dems, not obscure, stroppy left-wing back-benchers. We know from the Beeb that Terry McAuliffe was there--how much more "establishment Dem" can you get? He certainly sees the film as a net win for the Democrats:

Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe told reporters at the Washington screening he thought the film would play an important role in the Presidential election.
He said: "This movie raises a lot of the issues that Americans are talking about, that George Bush has been asleep at the switch since he's been president."

It is perfectly obvious that the Democrats do not see this film as any liability whatsoever. When I look past Klawans's rhetoric to the actual substance of Moore's criticism of the Dems, the trashing of the Democrats is a mild slap on the wrist for procedural issues concerning the 2000 election, by way of appetizer before moving on to the main course: slicing, dicing, stewing, fricaseeing, and grilling Bush. It sounds to me like purely token Dem-bashing, as I suspect Daschle well understood when he attended the premiere. There can be no question that this film has been an occasion for celebrating among the Democrats:

The booze was flowing and the room was buzzing at the swanky new Leftbank restaurant in Washington's Adams Morgan neighborhood Wednesday night. The cause for celebration was the D.C. premiere of "Fahrenheit 9/11," and director Michael Moore's pals picked up the tab.
They could afford it. Harvey and Bob Weinstein, the brothers who donate big money to Democrats and who bought the rights to the controversial new film, are already rich. But their decision to distribute the movie after Disney, Moore's original distributor, refused, will make them that much richer -- and possibly influence a presidential election. ...
Democrats and liberals are so excited about Moore because they believe he is one of the rare polemicists on the left who manages to balance preachiness with entertainment.
(Terry M. Neal in the WaPo; emphasis mine--ChuckB)

Klawans writes:

Moore's antagonists, being Republican, won't go so easy on him. Their attacks will no doubt include the charge that his film is Democratic Party propaganda. You should understand from the preceding the flimsiness of this accusation -- although it's true that Moore spares us the sight of one notable Democrat, John Kerry, voting to authorize Bush to start a war on his own say-so, at any time that suited him. [emphasis mine--ChuckB]

Does Moore take the preceeding Democratic administration to task over lost opportunities to deal effectively with Islamo-terrorism? Perhaps, but somehow, I doubt it. Unless he does so, and does so with a similar emotional impact to that of his accusations of Bush, Moore's criticism of the Democrats is manifestly token criticism, and Klawans's assertion that the film isn't Democratic propaganda is pure spin. I would be a good deal more impressed with Klawan's review if he dealt with or even mentioned some of the distortions and contradictions of the sort discussed by Christopher Hitchens and others. That Klawans doesn't even nod in their direction is, given Moore's documented history of problems with factual accuracy, a clear index of how uninformative the review is.

Re:Moore & Democrats

Here's a Hitchens rebuttal. The writer points out that many of the allegations that Moore lied in Bowling For Columbine originated with Dave Kopel's National Review column here. The National Review recently ran a cover depicting John Kerry as Che Guevara, so you can judge how intellectually honest the magazine is.

Re:Moore & Democrats

So what are we supposed to infer from this?

That Moore and I see eye to eye on the topic of politicians. That they are pretty much all equally useless and incompetent and completetly interchangeable -- regardless of any claims of party affiliation -- and the only amusement for cynics like us is to bash the dolt in power and then move on to the next dolt when he takes power. Unlike anal retentive naifs who hate or admire an elected officious based solely on whether or not the political viewpoints of the officious agree or disagree with theirs, and who will villify or protect in perpetuity past presidents for the same reason.

Michael Moore is not necessarily anti-Republican more than he is anti-War. I have no doubt Moore would have made Fahrenheit 9/11 if Al Gore had been the one to order the troops into Iraq and he had acted as cowardly as Bush had on September 11th.

Re:Moore & Democrats

Michael Moore is not necessarily anti-Republican more than he is anti-War. I have no doubt Moore would have made Fahrenheit 9/11 if Al Gore had been the one to order the troops into Iraq and he had acted as cowardly as Bush had on September 11th.

You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I think you are dead wrong. Would we in the Gore case have seen Karl Rove "nestled up to the ear of his new client" (i.e. Moore), plotting follow-up strategy after the debut of Gorenheit 9/11? I think not. Aside from the utter political implausibility of it, it is an image so vile, so repugnant that even I, depraved conservative/libertarian/Calvinist that I am, cannot bear to contemplate it.

I stand by my implicit contention that Moore functions as (and is content to function as) a surrogate* for the Greens or liberal Democrats, whichever expedience dictates.

* "surrogate" in the same sense as Neal means when referring to Move America Forward as a surrogate for the Republicans.

Re:Moore & Democrats

Re: Bowling:

  1. Read this.
  2. Rebut.
  3. Report back.

You have provided a textbook example of the genetic fallacy, a subspecies of the ad hominem abusive fallacy:

  • NR portrays Kerry as Che Guevara.
    (note the necessary assumption that this amounts to a serious attempt to equate Kerry with Guevara, an assumption that is dubious to say the least)
  • Since the NR seriously equates Kerry with Guevara, they are intellectually dishonest, and we should disbelieve everything published in it.
  • Kopel's article on Moore's dissemblings appeared in the NR, therefore we should disbelieve it (never mind what Kopel actually says).

The first proposition in the fallacy as I have stated it is dubious because there is precendent in the NR for the use of political iconography in an ironic, playful fashion. I recall an NR cover from back in the days when I was a religious (in the secular sense) reader of and subscriber to The Nation. The cover was analogous to the one described by our AP in that it depicted a faux quarter coin, with Jonas Savimbi's head where Washington's should be. The cover title was "Can we trust Savimbi?" There can be no doubt whatsoever that this use of political iconography was humorous and ironic, including a play on the motto "In God We Trust". It's the same thing with the substitution of Reagan's picture for Guevara's on those conservative t-shirts. Or does AP mean to suggest that the t-shirt company is intellectually dishonest because they depict Reagan as Guevara?

If I get a chance later, I will read the suggested link to the rebuttal of Hitchens to see if it moves past logical fallacies to present actual reasons for its contentions.

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