Regime change in Washington
There is no doubt that Michael Moore is on a political mission. Those
who’ve already read his new book, “Dude, Where’s My
Country,” know that he considers this bestseller the kick-off
of a nine-month long campaign for regime change, or simply call it an
effort to get rid of George W. Bush (by whatever means possible).
30, Moore spoke to a fired-up crowd of 4,300 at the MSU Auditorium,
the largest audience the building has held in 12 years. Twenty minutes
before the presentation, the filmmaker held a small press conference
back stage. He had gained weight since I’d seen him during his
national tour, in October, and he looked pale. Clearly, the extreme
momentum and national limelight was taking its toll on the political
filmmaker. He’s promoting his new book, he’s producing a
new documentary about the “oily” relationship of Bush and
Bin Laden (scheduled for release in September), and he’s campaigning
for the Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark. After taking
a few questions of local reporters, Moore managed to squeeze in a live
satellite interview with Bill Maher before rushing to start the show.
In 2002, Moore won an Oscar for his “Bowling for Columbine”
in the category of best documentary, but this evening it wasn’t
the grass-roots artistry he’s so well-known for that was on the
floor. His attention was focused upon BIG politics, leaving little room
for questions other than about ‘who’s going to be the next
big man in Washington.’ Thus, I didn’t get a chance to ask
him how he came up with the idea of walking into a private home in Toronto
to prove his theory that Canadians are less frightened of strangers
in “Bowling for Columbine,” for instance. But how could
I complain when the local TV reporters didn’t get the quick sound
bite, either? When asked what he thought about Mel Gibson’s new
Jesus film, Moore rattled something about “supporting all film
makers.” The pop-icon Michael Moore probably has to answer to
a lot of questions that are out in left field.
Most reporters were more than happy to grill him about his endorsement
of Wesley Clark, whom mainstream media considered a “weak”
candidate from the beginning, because he did not rank first or second
in the Democratic presidential primary elections in Iowa and New Hampshire.
While admitting that he hasn’t picked a winner since voting for
Bill Clinton in 1992, Moore criticized the perception that the Democratic
presidential race is already over and that the discussion should be
focused on the leading candidates, Dean, Kerry and Edwards. “Between
Iowa and New Hampshire, only 1 percent of all the delegates has now
been picked. So I guess you’d have to say it’s over,”
he commented with sarcasm.
Moore said he’s more optimistic about this presidential race than
the one in 2000, when he threw himself behind Green Party candidate
Ralph Nader, rather than choose Gore over Bush, which would have been
like picking the “the evil of two lessers.”
“We’re in much better shape this year,” said Moore.
“This is why I will not support a Green candidate this year, because
every candidate, with the exception of Lieberman, is to the left of
where Gore was in 2000. In fact, Gore is to the left of Gore in 2000.”
Moore said he’s decided to back Clark because he supports his
stance on everything from taxing the rich, to affirmative action, to
ending the war.
The filmmaker dedicated his last book to the three Michigan nuns, Jackie
Hudson, Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert, who were sentenced to a combined
total of nine years in federal prison last summer for trespassing in
order to symbolically “inspect” American weapons of mass
destruction in Colorado. The nuns, who belong to the Order of Preachers
(Dominicans) Congregation of the Sacred Hearts in Grand Rapids, have
said they were compelled to act as war with Iraq moved closer and because
the United States has never promised not to use its nuclear weapons.
After the press conference with Moore, East Lansing resident Anabel
Dwyer, who had been a legal adviser in the case, handed the filmmaker
a petition urging President George W. Bush to pardon and release the
nuns from prison.
Having had the opportunity to interview the “Sacred Inspectors,”
I must wonder why Moore chose to endorse the former NATO general, who
ordered bombings against civilian targets in Yugoslavia. Exactly how
could his labeling of Clark as an “anti-war candidate” be
The non partisan media think tank, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting,
has reviewed public statements made by Clark before, during and after
the invasion of Iraq and concluded that the general has taken an ambiguous
range of positions, from expressing doubts about diplomatic and military
strategies of invasion, to celebrating the U.S. “victory”
in an April 10 column for The London Times and declaring that Bush and
British Prime Minister Tony Blair “should be proud of their resolve
in the face of so much doubt.”
In another London Times column the following day, Clark summed up his
opinion on the lessons of war: “The campaign in Iraq illustrates
the continuing progress of military technology and tactics, but if there
is a single overriding lesson it must be this: American military power,
especially when buttressed by Britain’s, is virtually unchallengeable
today. Take us on? Don’t try! And that’s not hubris, it’s
just plain fact.” Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting concludes
that labeling a candidate who has made such statements as “anti-war”
would be “to render the term meaningless.”
Another non partisan group, the Center for Public Integrity, questions
Clark’s independence from lobbyists for the military-industrial
complex. When Clark declared his candidacy on Sept. 17, 2003, he was
still a registered lobbyist for Acxiom, a company that was actively
seeking Homeland Security contracts, and according to the center’s
“The Buying of the President 2004” he was also a military
commentator for CNN.
The more I read about Clark’s military record, the less I understand
Moore’s decision to support him. During the summer of 2003, Moore
said he was courted by four presidential candidates. It still remains
a mystery to me then why anyone who so adamantly opposed to war would
have chosen this one. Sometimes an artist needs to go back to the drawing
board, I thought to myself, and this seems to be one of those cases.
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