June 27, 2004


The Best Goebbels of All? (Frank Rich, 6/27//04, NY Times)

[G]oebbels is in fashion everywhere these days. As Mr. Moore implies that the Bush administration is in cahoots with the native country of 15 of the 9/11 hijackers, so the Bush administration has itself used a sustained campaign of insinuation to float the false claim that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with those hijackers, too. As Mr. Moore seeks to shape the story of what happened on 9/11, so the White House, President Bush included, collaborated on a movie project with the same partisan intent, "D.C. 9/11: Time of Crisis," seen on Showtime last fall. Instead of depicting Mr. Bush as continuing to read "My Pet Goat" to second graders for nearly seven minutes while the World Trade Center burned (as "Fahrenheit 9/11" does), "D.C. 9/11" showed the president (played by Timothy Bottoms) barking out take-charge lines like "If some tinhorn terrorist wants me, tell him to come on over and get me — I'll be home!"

In this fierce propaganda battle over the war on terrorism, the administration has been battling longer and harder than Michael Moore. And in John Ashcroft it has an even bigger camera hog in the starring role — no mean feat. While his on-screen persona needs work — he tries to come off like Robert Stack in "The Untouchables" but more often conjures up W. C. Fields in "The Bank Dick" — the attorney general's resources as a showman are considerable. He has a bigger budget than most filmmakers and can command far more free TV time for promoting his wares. His press conferences, whether to showcase his latest, implicitly single-handed victory in the war on terror or to predict the apocalypse he wants to make certain we won't blame him for, are now as ubiquitous as spinoffs of "C.S.I." and "Law & Order." While F.D.R. once told Americans that we have nothing to fear but fear itself, Mr. Ashcroft is delighted to play the part of Fear Itself, an assignment in which he lets his imagination run riot.

So Michael Moore is a Goebbels but John Ashcroft is even moreso? You'd think Mr. Moore's appeal to anti-Semitism would tilt the scales in his favor.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 27, 2004 12:30 PM

Michael Moore is a very strange fellow, although no different than others on the left have become. The current media fixation with Iraq and Al Queda connections, Al Gore's recent speeches, John Kerry's effortless demagoguery, the Howard Dean breakdown and the free, positive publicity given to Mr. Clinton's new book AND Moore's film strikes this observer as, well, bizarre. A large portion of the American people seem to have become almost mindless in it's unquestioning acceptance of the ongoing assault on common sense combined with some historical perspective. Watching the Green Party's conventyion on C-Span yesterday reminded me just how far sighted and wise our constitutional framers were in strictly limiting the power of the central government on the grounds that any of the above types might attain national power. Imagine a Michael Moore as education secretary within an Al Gore administration. Listening to CNN interviews with young people leaving his movie has confirmed my suspicions that much of the damage may already have been done. It's disheartening to see how easily manipulated and simplistic some American young people have become.

Posted by: Tom Corcoran at June 27, 2004 2:08 PM


My impression is that much of the left knows what nonsense this all is. For example, most of the laudatory F9/11 reviews admit up front that the movie is wrong on key points but, as David Edelstein from Slate says, it's a legitimate abuse of power to end the evil Bush administration. More than anything, this (like the article about Kansas that OJ posted above) just confirms the left's intellectual bankruptcy. Even they don't believe that there are serious arguments to be made.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 27, 2004 4:05 PM

It is time to invoke Goodwin's Law on the 2004 campaign:

Godwin's Law: "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress[emphasis added]. . . Godwin himself has discussed the subject.
Posted by: Robert Schwartz at June 27, 2004 6:28 PM

Does "Godwin's Law" mean that Republicans can't call Democrats "commies"?

Darn and it was so much fun.

Posted by: h-man at June 27, 2004 8:13 PM

Frank Rich is turning into someone like Marge Schott, fascinated by all things Nazi. Does he have an armband in his NY townhouse?

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 27, 2004 10:44 PM