Last night, I saw Farenheit 9/11. We had been present outside the theatre at the premiere, by accident, a few days earlier. We had seen the crowds of prominent Democrats and Washington celebrities, the limousines, the layers of security, some looking like gangsters, who surrounded Moore, wearing formal attire, not a cap and blue jeans, as he was whisked into his limousine.
But after seeing the film, it is clear there was a lot more sizzle than steak. Moore isn't a threat to the Republic, he's not even a threat to Bush. Chris Hitchens can fix himself another drink and relax. As a good friend told me, it's nothing new, she saw this film before, during the Vietnam war. We know how it ends..
If I were a Republican, I would screen the film for President Bush and the re-election campaign right away. For Farenheint 9/11 is a damp squib, despite all its awards and all the hype. It does have a few funny bits of irony. But overall, there is just not a lot there. It will not make a difference in the 2004 election campaign.
If this is the worst the opposition can come up with, Bush stands a fighting chance to win.
Some themes in the film touch upon legitimate issues, such as special treatment for the Bin Laden family, Homeland Security foul-ups, and a lack of preparedness before 9/11.
And Moore does make a point about politicians needing to put their children in the military. The only Congressman who talks to Moore agrees on this point, telling him, "I don't disagree with you."
But Bush can fix this problem right away. The Roosevelt kids fought in WWII, and Bush might ask his daughters to consider signing up, at least to work in military hospitals with the wounded. It would be good for morale, and help their image, too.
That said, the rest of the film is a bunch of innuendo, conspiracy mongering, and cheap shots. Every President takes vacations. Bill Clinton played a lot of golf, among other recreations. You can also watch Bill Clinton shaking hands with Saudi princes, a lot of shady deals went on in Arkansas, just like Texas. So there is nothing special about any of the scandals. And many of the American soldiers who appear seem perfectly decent, ordinary folks caught up in a hellish battlefield. Well, Sherman said "War is hell." Obviously, it is.
There are clearly some problems, but overall, the troops don't actually look panicked or demoralized, despite Moore's attempt to convey that impression.
One subtext--that America went to war primarily to increase sales of Bradley fighting vehicles by Carlyle Group subsidiary United Defense, and to make the world safe for UNOCAL's Afghan pipline, or for Halliburton's defense contracts is just ridiculous.
The opening charge in the film, that Fox News delivered the 2000 election to Bush because a relative worked there, is just plain silly. That's not how our system works. And in the end, not one Democratic Senator voted to overturn the result, and as the opening sequence shows, Al Gore signed off on the transfer personally. Why would Al Gore be in on the fix that deprived him of the Presidency?
In the end Farenheit 9/11 is so primitive and ignorant that a even John Kerry supporter who saw the film with us (interestingly, there were Kerry recruiters outside the movie theatre, every bit as aggressive for their own cause as two the Marine recruiters appearing in the film) thought it important to note that Michael Moore never graduated from college and doesn't really know very much about world history, culture or politics. So don't expect too much. Another person in our group said that she actually felt sympathetic to President Bush after watching it.