I have to admit, I sort of have a soft spot in my heart for Michael Moore.
How could I not? He's such a schlub!
Such a schlub, in fact, that I sent him a copy of FSTS, and asked him for a blurb for the back before publication. (He never got back to me.)
And whatever else bad you can say about him (and there's quite a bit), I concede that he's a genuinely funny guy. While I wouldn't take anything he produces at face value (for a terrific puncturing of Moore and his more tendentious claims, I would recommend Kay Hymowitz's piece a few years ago in City Journal), I think his heart tends to be in the right place. Sicko was pretty unimpeachable. And while Roger & Me was full of holes, he was certainly telling an important story that needed to be told. (I still think Fahrenheit 9/11 was a piece of shit. See Christopher Hitchens' rant in Slate.)
But if you need any other reason to think he's an arrogant asshole, check out his latest item on the Huffington Post.
Maybe my anger at this article had something to do with the fact that I was sort of intrigued by the headline, "Why I'm Not Now And Have Never Been the Democrats' 'Rush Limbaugh'."
That headline is 100 percent accurate.
Say what you will about the Democratic party, they kept away from Michael Moore like he was infected with ebola during the 2004 election.
Not everyone, of course. When Moore brings up the fact that Jimmy Carter invited him to the Presidential box at Democratic convention, I can't argue with that. (But then, I was unhappier about the fact that Carter managed to finagle an invitation than I was that he dragged Michael Moore along with him.)
But John Kerry made sure to stay a very healthy distance away from anything having to do with Moore.
Never has some wayward Democrat gone on TV seeking absolution from Moore for some bit of heresy, the way that Republicans are asking forgiveness this week from their fat windbag.
And despite the fact that I have heard some pretty moronic things out of Moore's mouth over the years, I'm not sure I've ever heard him say something as stupid as what Rush said at the CPAC conference last week in that he hoped Obama failed -- and stood by it.
Rush Limbaugh is perfectly entitled to say that he doesn't think the Obama administration will succeed. But to actively hope for its failure -- to wish further misery on the poor and the unemployed of our battered country -- shows a political zealotry that borders on psychotic.
If guys on the far left like Moore were cast as "America haters" because they were "rooting for failure" in Iraq -- as Rush and O'Reilly et al were saying for years -- shouldn't Rush be held up to the same scrutiny? Isn't he putting a party and a political philosophy above the health of the nation? By the right's logic, isn't Rush anti-American?
All these points were the ones I hoped Moore would be making in this latest piece... but, naturally, he disappoints.
No, no, no -- he says -- I'm not like Rush. Because Americans agree with me!
Possibly the lamest defense anyone can muster.
It's true, Michael Moore looks a lot less scary to most Americans than he did six years ago. But the reason a person of the moderate left (like myself) doesn't really want to associate with him is not because he favors universal health care or drawing troops out of Iraq. It's because:
a) Michael Moore is a horrible journalist. (All of Moore's movies -- with the possible exception of Sicko -- contain glaring omissions and consistent manipulation of timelines and facts.)
b) He's an unthinking, PC asshole. (There are many examples of this, but to use the most stark there was his claim that if more passengers on the airplanes hijacked on September 11th had been black, they would have successfully fought off the terrorists. A statement too stupid to deconstruct.)
c) He is in fact guilty of some of the things that the right always said he was guilty of.
Obviously, you can be patriotic and be fully and loudly against the Iraq War. (I consider myself one such person.) But to root against American success in Iraq, as Moore did at the time, feels very similar to the failure Rush is rooting for.
Obviously Iraq was a mistake. A horrible, deadly mistake, that more Americans should've spoken out against. But I don't think anyone should apologize for wishing an end to the murderous regime of Saddam Hussein. To say that American motives were all about oil executives expanding their margins is (mostly) nonsense. But that has been Moore's argument pretty consistently over the years. Nobody (in Moore's eyes) could have favored using force for humanitarian reasons.
Moore goes on to say that while it's true John Kerry didn't win in 2004, he implies that his loss would have been much greater if not for his own involvement, and he personally takes credit for registering tens of thousands of young voters.