Jul 5, 2004
In his new documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore sets his sights on the Bush administration and doesn't let up for the entire two hours.
There are all kinds of revealing snippets from Bush's speeches – for example, when Bush quips to a dinner of business executives, "This is a dinner of the have's and the have more's. Some may call you the elite... but I call you my base." And – of course – Moore shows Bush stealing the 2000 election. More seriously, Moore recounts how Bush used the supposed U.S. war against terror as a way to stampede the public into accepting the international and domestic agenda that government officials had wanted to impose anyway, from invading Iraq to the USA-Patriot Act that drastically cut legal rights of individuals.
Moore ridicules Bush's war on terrorism for the propaganda game it is. He exposes the ties that the Bush administration and U.S. businesses have with some of the same forces in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan that are supposed to be aiding the terrorists. And he shows how the Bush administration used the witch hunt against immigrants in this country as a way to divert attention from those ties and make it seem like the Bush administration was actually waging a tough war.
In the second half of the film, Moore strongly condemns the war in Iraq. He includes the kind of harrowing footage and interviews of both Iraqis and U.S. soldiers that the U.S. networks hide from view.
At the same time, Moore shows how the big corporations profit from the war and how the politicians, starting with the Bushes and those in Congress who advocate the war, don't send their own sons and daughters to do the fighting and the dying. He goes back to his hometown, Flint, Michigan, that has been devastated by plant closings – where the military recruiters troll among the poor and the unemployed, plying their lies about how these young people can use the military to go to school and escape poverty. The film shows that it is these same young people who go on to pay for this war with their lives.
Moore's film has obviously touched a nerve. Record turnouts to see the movie show that.
But there is one very big problem with the film: it concentrates on Bush and the Republicans. Moore actually makes it seem like the Republicans hijacked the country and that things would have been different if they had not been in power.
What a complete myth! The Bush administration never acted alone. The Democrats, at every step of the way, loyally supported Bush's policies, including the war. They voted for it, and they continue to support its funding. Kerry and the rest of the Democrats have also made it clear that they will continue to follow those policies, starting with the war in Iraq, if they are elected in November.
In calling on people to unseat Bush while ignoring the Democrats' very big role in this war, Moore is effectively supporting the Democrats – a party that stands for the very same policies as those the film condemns.
Nonetheless, the movie is well worth seeing. Moore may have started out with the purpose of unseating Bush; and he may want people to leave the theater with that message. But in between is a movie that shows the rottenness of an entire system that created this war and profits from it.