Thursday, February 21, 2002

REVISIONIST HISTORY: Michael Moore, you are sooooo busted!

On a promotional tour for his latest book which, as a matter of principle, I shall not name or link -- if you really care, you'll have no trouble finding it -- this afternoon Michael Moore was interviewed by the affable Leonard Lopate on New York's public radio affiliate, WNYC. (Link requires Real Audio)

Lopate usually books guests whom he likes and respects, and his puff-piece softball interview with Moore made it plain that he was sympathetic to Moore's brand of ultra-left redistribute-the-wealth liberalism. But my beef is not with Lopate or WNYC or public radio in general. Their bias is a given.

My beef is with that two-faced professional provocateur, Michael Moore, friend to the working man -- unless you happen to be working for Michael Moore. (Sorry, no supporting links -- but the truth is out there.)

Pressed to justify his support for spoiler candidate Ralph Nader, Moore takes the position that (1) Gore should have won convincingly enough that Nader's 3% showing would not have been enough to throw the election to Bush, and (2) "Let's be honest," he said to Lopate. "It was easy for me to vote for Nader. I live in New York. Gore was going to win by 20 points. But I also told people in Florida and the swing states, 'You have a different job. Your job is to stop George W. Bush.' "

In other words, if you voted for Nader in Florida and you're having fits of buyer's remorse, don't come complaining to your humble servant Michael Moore. I did my job right. You just didn't do yours.

Sorry, Mike, but -- nuhhh-uhhh. Let's put your assertion in context, shall we? Here's a snarky little paragraph you wrote on October 7, 2000:
If you need to vote for Gore because you think a free election is nothing more than a game of Tic-tac-toe ("A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush so I'm voting for Gore to block Bush, see?"), then go ahead and play that game. Games are fun. There are 100 million other Americans, though, who are planning to sit the election out because they don't like this game one damn bit.
I dunno, Mike -- let me get this straight. You were out there in the trenches, telling everyone to make a principled symbolic vote for Nader except in those cases where a single, puny little vote might actually make a difference? Doesn't wash. Either you take your principles seriously, or you don't. Who's playing games now?

Wait a minute. Moore had a twofold mission -- to generate enthusiasm for Nader where it didn't matter, and also give tacit support to Gore where it was genuinely needed. But as late as one month before the election, he sure had a funny way to demonstrate that support. Here's what he wrote on October 12, 2000:
"Mike! Back off with this Nader thing! [Moore's e-mail was saying --] Gore is going to lose!" Yes, he might. But, let me ask you -- is this Ralph Nader's fault or Al Gore's? Did Ralph Nader tell Gore to sit there like a wimp [in the debate] last night? Did Ralph Nader tell Gore to just agree with whatever drivel came out of Bush's mouth? Did Ralph Nader abandon the working class backbone of the Democratic Party for 8 years? Why the hell do you think Bush is ahead in most polls "during the greatest economic prosperity in our history?" Voters NEVER want a change when the economy is "booming." NEVER! So why do you think this is happening, my fellow members of the computer and Internet elite?

I am sorry things have turned south for Gore. As I have said before, I have met the man and I believe him to be a decent and good person. But he and his partner lost their way a long time ago. And now he is paying the price. This has NOTHING to do with Ralph Nader. It has everything to do with having the courage of your own convictions.
On October 31, 2000, in an open letter to Al Gore, Moore wrote:
According to your people, all Ralph or I have to do is wave a magic wand and the Nader voters will "come back to Gore." Look, Al, you have screwed up -- big time. ... I will not feel one iota of guilt should you screw up and lose on Tuesday. The blame I do share is that I voted for you and Bill in 1992.
It wasn't until the very day before the election, November 6, 2000, that Moore finally began to sense that his position was untenable. Accordingly, he made this tepid concession:
I completely understand that if you live in a swing state and you feel your conscience telling you that you have to vote for Gore to stop Bush, then do what you need to do. It's not how I would vote, but I understand and appreciate what you are going through. Yes, Nader needs every possible vote in all 50 states, but if you are acting on conscience instead of compromise then that is all I want you to do.
And on Election Day, 2000, Moore politely reiterated his CYA point:

I know many of you in the "swing states" feel a need to vote for Gore to stop Bush. As I've said before, I respect your decision.
And the rest is revisionist history. In today's radio interview, Moore backtracks, towing a new hastily-drawn line in the sand. Symbolic gesture in New York, pragmatic realist in Florida -- with exactly one day's notice. Gee, Mike -- it's just too bad that at least 600 of Nader's 95,000 Florida voters didn't happen to catch your Gore endorsement in time for it to make an impression.

But hey -- no time for regrets. You issued the requisite "small print" disclaimer just under the wire, so your hands are clean. Anyway, you've got a best-selling book to peddle! Scoot!

Read Ted Barlow's screenplay adaptation of the Y2K Election here.

Juan Gato provides color commentary on Michael Moore's latest self-serving promotional announcement here.

Daniel Radosh (now there's a guy who ought to be blogging daily!) digs the dirt here. Moore rebuts and Radosh dignifies him with a reply here.


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