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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Comments

Thanks for keeping tabs on that guy. Sicko was a good thing but geez.

Moore is, to borrow a phrase, a "Dembot." So...the answer to your question is a simple "No". :)

He has the massive will of the American people behind him...

Gosh, I feel so powerful. What should we will next?

The funny thing is that Moore didn't _used_ to be a "DemBot" (love the phrase there, BrianM). Of course, everybody knows, he campaigned vociferously for Nader in 2000 and unleashed a whole lot of rhetoric that year about how the Democrats had failed the country, and why the country would be better off without them. John cites one such letter.

Then came the switch. I love the man dearly, and despite tons and tons of his rhetoric about "we need to save the Democrats from themselves, Democrats always find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory..." unfortunately BrianM is right that Moore is ultimately a DemBot now.

No doubt he came under a lot of completely unfair pressure after the 2000 election -- {but so did I ! ! Don't even get me started on that!}
But my point is that Michael Moore is surely used to pressure and political disagreement. Ultimately he only switched to a "DemBot" because he made the decision that's what he'd rather do. And in his writings, notwithstanding the "jaws of victory" comments, he seems fairly sincere in his Dem-Bot-tery.

Did anyone else watch his latest, Internet-only movie, "Slacker Uprising" ?? The whole thing seemed to me like Moore wanting documentary evidence, to show to Democrats, that he had kept his January 21, 2001 promise to "do everything [he] could" to un-seat George Bush, but THEIR WAY, by registering Democrats and getting people to vote for Kerry. The whole thing was "This is me campaigning for Kerry on college campuses" and then "These are the demographic success rates I had in getting college-age kids to vote for Kerry". The man has flipped the switch.

So what I'm getting at is, it always puzzles me how somebody can think this way -- that the lesser of two evils represents some kind of hope for good, rather than, ultimately, evil -- and it _doubly_ puzzles me when somebody _switches_ from an Independent/3rd Party mindset, back to a "mainstream" Dem position. (Because we all grow up hearing that there are only two parties, so at some point Independents like Moore, and I, had to make a conscious decision to switch.)

What makes that switch just flip over? What causes a person to re-embrace a mode which he has already analyzed and rejected? It's a different issue than this or that _candidate_, where I give people wide latitude to change their minds from one year to the next. Just because Ralph was the best candidate in 2000 doesn't necessarily mean he was the best candidate in 2004, etc. I have no qualms with a Green who decides Gore is the best candidate and then votes his heart. But Moore has re-embraced the _paradigm_ that third parties are useless. Or at least, not worth mentioning.

How can one even swallow the same mind-set as Glenn Greenwald, for example, when Glenn argues that "these assaults on our core civil liberties and the rule of law are not Republican attacks with Democrats fighting against them. They are attacks launched by the political establishment against the citizenry, and they ought to be responded to as such" -- but the way Glenn recommends responding to these intentional attacks is to vote for Democrats anyway, harangue anyone who doesn't, and then write the Democrats nasty letters after we sit them down in their plush offices. I don't get the mind-set!!

When a gay Fundamentalist goes through "gay therapy", it always seems pretty obvious that he's simply been forced back into the closet (tho not necessarily against his volition). When somebody switches to, or back to, "mainstream" political parties, it never seems quite that insincere to me. It usually looks sincere.
On the other hand, in common with "gay therapy, the "switching back" to the Dem mind-set _might_ have something to do with wanting to belong to a large and powerful group (which just happens to hate your "old" identity) rather than standing alone.

I just can't get my mind around it. What is the thought-process involved??

The whole thing was "This is me campaigning for Kerry on college campuses" and then "These are the demographic success rates I had in getting college-age kids to vote for Kerry".

My impression is that with Michael Moore it's mostly about Michael Moore at this point. It seems like that was always true to some extent, but it's become much more so over the past few years. So at this point he basically searches out the movement, whatever that may happen to be, and then positions himself at the front of it and says "Look at all the people who're following me!" As your example illustrates.

I do think his moral compass still points in the right direction and he still has a lot that's worth saying, but you're (all) right that he's completely in the bag when it comes to the Democrats these days—and that has the usual abominable effects, like the kind of extraordinary cognitive dissonance I mentioned in the posting. Too bad.

What causes a person to re-embrace a mode which he has already analyzed and rejected?

Good question, and I'd say there are many different answers. I'm feeling lazy, though, so I'll just suggest one for now: lack of perspective. People here are so close to our political system that it starts to seem like (and/or affect them like) some kind of geologic feature of the earth, like Mt. Kilimanjaro; we have it constantly driven into our heads on issue after issue that There Is No Alternative. So after brief forays into the hinterland, they're pulled inexorably back to the mainstream through the forces of political gravitation. It takes a continual, conscious effort to remind yourself that you had very good reasons for spinning away from that illusory-yet-constantly-invoked "center".

As I say, just one explanation, and not necessarily primary or exclusive...but I do think it operates beneath the surface in most cases.

Very interesting answer, thanks. I guess I do not succumb to that political gravity, personally, because to me it constantly feels like there are new provocations, new "reasons for spinning away" as you put it. But I could imagine other people not seeing, not being affected by, or downplaying those new reasons. Particularly as everybody gets older and more jaded. (Hence the young tend to be more radical, "Don't trust anyone over 30," etc.)

As far as Moore personally -- I see what you're saying there. Also interesting. Somewhere in my gut I still have trouble reconciling a big ego with the common theme of his career, that the causes he picks are always positive for the masses, for the little guy. Or I should say, _a_ little guy, if not every single one. He's abandoned the "little guy" Green Party, perhaps, but he's constantly pushing for universal health insurance, peace, better working conditions, retirement security, etc.

I would hate to imagine that the Republicans were actually right, after he won awards for "Roger and Me", when Republicans attacked him by saying "He's not a credible advocate for the poor anymore because he made a lot of money off his film. Since he's rich now, why should we pay attention to what he says about the poor?" That's what Rush et.al. were saying around 1990. That is not what you are arguing, but it's treading a bit close. "Moore's advocacy is wasted because his ego and political gravity have blocked its way forward in order to pursue fame," might be your argument, right? I don't know that advocacy is ever wasted, and however blind Moore may have become, I don't see him ceasing to push for health care, peace, etc., until they actually arrive in a recognizable format. He may be egotistical and fool himself, but he seems to have great defenses against being fooled by opponents (VERY MUCH unlike most Democrats).

As you say, his moral compass points in the right place. And that's rare enough these days that I can forgive quite a bit of ego. So, Moore doesn't fill me with the visceral loathing that, say, a Diane Feinstein or a Hillary Clinton does -- somebody who sides with the right causes, SOMETIMES, because they've worked out for her in the past, but when it comes to other issues, like militarism or what-have-you, her moral compass is completely bent.

"Moore's advocacy is wasted because his ego and political gravity have blocked its way forward in order to pursue fame," might be your argument, right?

No, that's much harsher than anything I'd say. I don't think his advocacy is wasted at all. In fact I'm not really making any argument in particular about him—just observing how he goes wildly astray when he aligns himself with the Democrats. I'm just sorry to see someone who was talking such sense eight years ago writing embarrassing tripe like this.

I'd agree that the combination of insecurity, a big ego, and a genuine left orientation makes for a weird mix, but he is what he is. As you say, advocacy for useful causes is never wasted, and he's still making interesting and useful films on important topics that reach far more people than the rest of us will reach in a lifetime. And I agree it's unlikely he'll ever stop doing that, no matter how far into the Democrat zone he goes.

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