I don't doubt that there will be a number of reviews here on LRC
covering all of the best aspects of Michael Moore's new movie, Fahrenheit
9/11. I'm sure I will agree with most or all of those reviews.
Except for The Passion of the Christ, this is the most important
film of the year, and everyone who still harbors a modicum of respect
for our present government should see it.
That said, the movie had some problems. First, believe it or not,
I think Michael Moore does not give Bush enough credit with respect
to the first half of his presidency. More importantly, we should
be careful in giving Michael Moore too much praise for anything,
Let's be honest: Bush did the right thing, sometimes.
There are some things Bush has done for which we should praise
him – things for which Moore seems to fault Bush, but which I'd like
to see Bush do a lot more.
For example, Moore faults Bush for spending a record amount of
time in office on vacation on his ranch, during the first part of
his term. How can that be a bad thing? Time spent on vacation is
time not spent bombing the rest of the world, oppressing citizens
at home, and growing government to a record size. I would go so
far as to assert as an axiom that the more time a president spends
playing, the better. (Warren Harding may be the model president
in this and most other respects).
Moore also wants us to be disturbed by the fact that Bush remained
in a Florida classroom reading My Pet Goat for seven minutes
after being told that America was “under attack” on September 11.
Roger Ebert describes
this as the “most devastating” thing in the whole film. But this
piece of information has never disturbed me in the slightest. The
only objectionable aspect is that he stayed there for only seven
minutes. As with vacation, the more time he spends in an elementary
school classroom with a blank look on his face, the less time he
spends doing anything else. I'm happy about having seven more minutes
of freedom than I otherwise might have had. I wish he were still
Moore also seems to fault the Transportation Security Administration
for allowing you to take matches and lighters, but not your own
breast milk, on board an airline flight. For this, he credits the
influence of the tobacco companies, who want you to be able to smoke
before and after you get on a plane. I don't know what basis he
has for this assertion, but even if it's true, I'd say good for
the tobacco companies. Now, allow cigarettes to be smoked on flights,
as long as all of the passengers consent, and we might have something
like freedom. Of course, Moore's main point is that the TSA is not
about security at all, it's about the government befuddling and
controlling Americans, with virtually no regard at all for genuine
The movie could have bolstered its own credibility where it counts
by eliminating some other extraneous criticisms. No matter how much
I may dislike Bush, I will never get upset about him "stealing"
the election. Every election is always stolen from anyone
who did not cast a vote for the winner and therefore did not consent
to whatever the winner might do to him. I'm not even upset about
the Supreme Court deciding the election, because that means we're
just nine voters away from abolishing democracy entirely.
The worst thing about Fahrenheit 9/11.
There are more serious reasons not to get too excited about Michael
Keep in mind that this movie's success will give Moore more influence
over the minds of the American people. When he wants to speak again,
through another film, he will have the country's full attention.
And when, perhaps thanks in part to this film, John Kerry is elected
president, what will that film be about? A devastating critique
of welfare statism? Of course not. In all likelihood, it will be
something like an attack on the alleged evils of Wal-Mart. And given
Moore's undeniable talent as a propagandist, to the mass-man who
does not understand economics, that film will look every bit as
credible and persuasive as Fahrenheit 9/11.
Surely anyone would agree that it's ethically wrong to give someone
money, when you know for certain that they are going to spend it
on a weapon with which they will commit a murder. Is it any more
conscionable to give Moore money and accolades when we know he's
going to spend his enhanced credibility on advancing economic ignorance,
and, if he is successful, increasing poverty and even death in countless
Well, maybe. It is a great movie.
Regardless, let's celebrate a movie that, as the noted political
philosopher the Libertarian Jackass has observed,
has the laudable goal of “bring[ing] down a president.” Bringing
down a president is fun, and we should revel in it, and do it more
But at the same time, we must be circumspect. As good as this film
may be, remember that Michael Moore is a man who doesn't want you
to be free to buy the products you want, to hire whomever you want,
or even to defend your own person, property, and family.
When the tables inevitably turn on the neocon regime, he will once
again be our worst enemy. We would be wise to continuously acknowledge
that, and never fail to remind everyone of why he is so wrong
about everything else.