August 31, 2004

Birds of a Feather...

... Flock Together:

With this book and the Vanity Fair editorials in which he rehearsed its outraged tone, Carter joins what might be regarded as the cultural opposition to Bush, a loose alliance that numbers among its members Michael Moore, the comic Al Franken, and the shock-jock Howard Stern - and which some suggest has done more to help dislodge Bush from the White House than full- time politicians like the anaemic John Kerry. Carter downplays his own influence. "I'm sort of flattered to be included with those guys," he says. "They are more vocal than I am, but I try to stay independent. The fact is that their greatest influence is in the Democratic states; when the cultural elite endorses a candidate anywhere else, people tend to run for the hills." Is the fact that people like Moore and Carter put so much energy into trashing Bush an indication of John Kerry's failure to do so? "No. I'm not in the least disappointed with Kerry. I think he's a perfect candidate; honest, forthright and he plays fairly. He is a very brave man. The thing people forget is that the only reason Bush looks presidential, is because he is president. You could stick Michael Moore on Air Force One and he'd look presidential, too."

--Graydon Carter, spouting inanities.


When Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called him "a disingenuous filmmaker" during his speech, Moore said, "Thank you, John McCain."

No offense taken. Only dollar signs.

"Hey, the film's doing $120 million right now," Moore said. "When McCain mentions it, I have a chance to do $150 million. It just creates more interest, more excitement."

Another man might have defended his body of work after it was called "disingenuous" by a genuine American hero widely respected through large swaths of the American body politic for his blunt honesty. Particularly as being disingenuous is a pretty damning charge to hurl at someone who makes documentaries for a living.

But, of course, Moore doesn't have a serious record of integrity or artistic honesty to defend. He is but a corpulent, clownish public entertainer--serving as nothing more than a cash register for his (also corpulent) masters at Miramax.

So let us be sure to deny Michael Moore any pretensions of assuming the mantle of noble, truth-telling dissident. To allow anyone (even some of the more impressionable among us) to buy into such rank farce would be to bespoil the memories of giants like Andrei Sakharov, Vaclav Havel and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Or the Nelson Mandelas and Aung San Suu Kyi's of our time.

Still though, let's let Graydon Carter be "sort of flattered" to be in Michael's Moore's company.

You know, you can tell a lot about a man by the company he keeps. One thing this tells me about Carter? He appears to care little about the truth, the facts. Which makes it easier for him, doubtless, to pen piffle like this:

"The Bush White House inherited a government of model transparency and purposefully bent it to the will of the most secretive administration in recent American history."

The Clinton White House as model of transparency (quick, someone tell Ken Starr)! You can't make this stuff up.

"The Bush White House inherited a robust economy brimming with jobs and budget surpluses."

But wait, hadn't one of the greatest financial bubbles in history just burst around the time Bush assumed power? How "robust" is that?

Or this:

Making his final decision to launch an invasion of Iraq, President George W Bush did not seek the advice of his father, a veteran of the second world war and a former president who had gone to battle with the same foe a decade earlier. Nor did he seek the overall final recommendation of his secretary of defence, or of his secretary of state, the only man in his cabinet who had been decorated for military service in wartime with the medals befitting a national hero. Instead, as Bob Woodward wrote in his book, Plan of Attack, Bush consulted his God, a God who the president presumes takes sides in disputes between peoples.

How deeply disingenuous (to use that word again)! And how transparently aimed at making Bush appear every inch the theocratic fanatic that UBL is (a favorite tactic of the relativist left).

Are we really to seriously believe that Bush, after the briefest near 'final' consultations with Rummy and Powell (though not Poppy, mind you) was unsure of whether to wage war in Iraq until God Himself was consulted? That the real, final decision to go to war was only taken when God Willed Him To at the 11th hour? How patently absurd! And regardless, can not a Commander in Chief, about to assume the awesome obligations that come with sending citizens to war--can he not consult his God at such a pivotal moment for comfort and internal (as opposed to policy) guidance? I'm sure FDR did on occasion.

No, this is rubbish and claptrap shovelled up (with a gaggle of researchers rushing about hither dither) to move books off the shelf and, like Moore, play pretend dissident.

Am I being unfair? Oh, maybe a little bit. But not in the main, finally. Too little of Carter's recent articles and excerpts from his latest ouevre (if we can call it that) speaks of a real attempt to judiciously analyze how to address the existential perils that announced themselves on 9/11. Too little of it attempts to grapple with, seriously, the advantages and disadvantages of preventitive conflict in this new era (favoring instead empty castigations of the war in Iraq as merely diversionary tactic to distract from a hyper-rightist domestic policy agenda). Too little of it addresses the failures of our intelligence gathering process (easier to say instead that it was all a Big Lie and mega-hoodwink). Too little of it struggles with the challenges presented by the mammoth nation-building tasks we face (and will continue to face) in Central Asia and the Middle East (no, it's all just flat-out FUBAR).

But, by all means, let the Conde Nast, Miramax and Cannes faux-intellectuals hob-nob amongst themselves to their heart's content. Let them laugh about the cretin-like Chimp from Crawford and his boundless provincialism. Let them grossly simplify myriad issues to score easy points and facilitate the hurling of invective towards evil Georgie.

I doubt they and their ilk will have the last laugh, however. Those who risk lying to themselves through such intellectual laziness rarely do. In this, at least, their is a smidgen of solace in all of this. And, I guess, in that Graydon and Michael have found common cause. They certainly deserve each other!

Posted by Gregory at August 31, 2004 01:04 PM

Aw, c'mon, Greg, why are you wasting your time with this stupid stuff?

Do you think anyone who reads your blog is deciding between your worldview and those of these loons?

Sometimes you're like a college kid who joins pickup games with the junior high-schoolers ...

Posted by: praktike at August 31, 2004 02:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I second praktike's point. There are bigger game to hunt, and more topics that require in-depth analysis than this pre-occupation with Michael Moore and Graydon Carter.

That being said, I was struck by this line:

"Another man might have defended his body of work after it was called 'disingenuous' by a genuine American hero widely respected through large swaths of the American body politic for his blunt honesty."

How does your effusive praise of McCain (deserved I might add), square with the nasty campaign ran by Bush against him in South Carolina in 2000? During that primary, the Bush campaign, among other things, accused McCain of voting against Veterans (an erroneous claim), having an African American child out of wedlock (a cruel insinuation considering he an his wife adopted a Bangladeshi orphan), and insinutating that he is not mentally stable because of his time as a POW?

Were you outraged then? Has it passed?

Posted by: Eric Martin at August 31, 2004 02:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Moore is dreaming about the $150 mil of course... the film was at #26 last weekend.

Posted by: HH at August 31, 2004 02:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

eric/praktike--your comments are noted (no more graydon bashing! say it ain't so...).

eric, i was angry at the gutter atwater tactics employed against mccain in '00. and no, it hasn't fully passed. but just as mccain bites his lip and pragmatically moves along, well, so do i.

politics is a tough, dirty business.

Posted by: greg at August 31, 2004 09:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Not everything is politics"

-McCain's response to Bush in 2000.

But I get your point, and appreciate your stance. I agree with your assessment of the campaign in 2000 obviously.

Posted by: Eric Martin at August 31, 2004 10:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


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