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The Return of Michael Moore By: Kathy Shaidle
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, August 25, 2008

Michael Moore is back, but does anyone care?

He’s been keeping a low profile for a while now, but the controversial Oscar-winning filmmaker (Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine, Sicko) issued his 2008 Election Guide this week. Rolling Stone magazine reprinted some of Moore’s unsolicited advice to his fellow Democrats (whom he refers to as “pathetic” “crazy” “professional losers.”)

As usual with the over-the-top provocateur (whose last hit film was 2004’s Fahrenheit 9/11) Moore’s sarcasm is difficult to distinguish from his serious suggestions. Among other things, Moore dares Barack Obama to “denounce” him and reject his endorsement, for the candidate’s own good.

He had better back away not only from me but from anyone and everyone who veers a bit too far to the left of where his advisers have told him is the sweet spot for all those red-state voters. I won't take it personally. After all, I'm not the guy who married him or baptized his kids. I'm just the idiot who went to the same terrorist, Muslim school of flag-pin desecrators he went to. […]

So Barack, by denouncing me, you can help McCain get elected. Because when you denounce me, it's not really me you're distancing yourself from — it's the millions upon millions of people who feel the same way about things as I do. And many of them are the kind of crazy voters who have no problem voting for a Nader just to prove a point. 

If his advice seems oddly narcissistic rather than tactically sound or even logical, Moore’s next idea is even more counterintuitive.

Playing self-appointed kingmaker, Moore followed up by suggesting Caroline Kennedy (daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy) as Obama’s running mate, based solely on her famous surname rather than her professional qualifications. Nothing if not startlingly original, Moore contends that an “Obama-Kennedy” ticket would appeal to nostalgic liberals.

I cannot think of a more winning ticket than one that reads: OBAMA-KENNEDY.

What Obama needs is a vice presidential candidate who is NOT a professional politician but someone who is well known and beloved by people across the political spectrum.

Jon Keller, author of The Bluest State – which he says “deals at length with baby-boomer political narcissism” -- weighed in on Moore’s more recent opinionating, and was puzzled by Moore’s unflattering characterization of his fellow Obama supporters as “beer-swilling, trash-TV-addicted couch potatoes.”

“He offers Obama a fail-safe political solution,” writes Keller, “one that could only have been devised by a totemic member of the ‘me’ generation -- drop what you're doing and embrace... ME.”

Moore clearly believes he is still as popular, important and influential as he was when his award-winning anti-Bush film Fahrenheit 9/11 raked in tens of millions of dollars at the box office, and he shared a V.I.P. box with former President Jimmy Carter at that year’s Democratic National Convention.

Ironically, that movie’s unprecedented success inspired a counter-industry of Moore-bashing and debunking. Even some fellow leftists began distancing themselves from Moore as his deceptive filmmaking techniques became common knowledge. Christopher Hitchen’s devastating Slate piece, “The Lies of Michael Moore”, was merely the most scathing example of what became a minor genre all its own:

To describe [Fahrenheit 9/11] as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.

Jim Stark has chronicled the filmmaker’s every fib and gaff for years at Moorewatch.com. Asked about Moore’s new advice to Barack Obama and Caroline Kennedy, Stark told FrontPage:

I think that clearly illustrates the problem with Moore today: he's still living in the year 2000. 

I think that the real issues this election are simply the war on terror and the economy by way of gas prices. Nothing Moore says makes a difference with either of those issues. People just aren't listening to him anymore. Except in Europe. Most of the pro-Moore email I get now is from Europe.

He's going to be less of a factor in this election than any other of which he's tried to make himself a part. He marginalized himself by being a clown and telling so many obvious lies and half-truths over the years. 

For some, calling Moore a clown doesn’t go far enough. In his obituary for actor and Second Amendment activist Charlton Heston, whom Moore cruelly mocked in his anti-gun movie Bowling for Columbine, Mark Steyn took the measure of both men, and found Moore wanting:

Michael Moore is no hero – a chocolate soldier heavier on the chocolate than the soldiering. So he ended his film by doorstepping Charlton Heston, and, polite as ever, Chuck invited him in for coffee only to have the corpulent provocateur start hectoring him (...)

In their bizarre screen encounter, these two men embodied the unequal contest between old Hollywood and new: Moore represented the poseur compassion of the left, Heston the defense of uncomfortable truths.

Indeed, Moore’s well documented history of distorting the truth in his films and books has been the subject of numerous articles, books like Michael Moore Is A Big Fat Stupid White Man, dedicated websites like “The Truth About Bowling for Columbine and even three movies by other filmmakers.

Make that four.

Veteran Hollywood director David Zucker of Naked Gun fame has talked some of the biggest conservative actors in the business into taking part in his new big budget movie An American Carol, due out this October. The zany all-star comedy skewers Michael Moore in the form of an overweight, unkempt, baseball-capped character named “Michael Malone,” whose anti-American movies prompt the ghosts of George Washington, John F. Kennedy, General Patton to teach him a lesson in patriotism.

Hollywood insider John Nolte runs the popular conservative movie blog “Dirty Harry’s Place”. He told FrontPage via email that, ironically, An American Carol is kinder to Moore than Moore has been to some of his real life targets:

An American Carol actually presents the Moore character as a much more sympathetic character than Moore himself manages to ever come off as in real life. If Carol has any effect on Moore, it will be through the contrast of how much more likable Farley's character is compared to the real Moore.

Another longtime observer of Moore’s career, Nolte believes that, “Michael Moore made two mistakes: Fahrenheit 9/11 and his 2004 convention appearance are both now perceived by many as to have backfired in Bush's favor, and his hubris in only wanting F9/11 allowed in the Best Picture Oscar category, as opposed to Best Doc, did not sit well either.”

Nolte continued:

Moore's latest film, Captain Mike Across America, a love letter to himself detailing his 2004 college campus tour, barely got released and turned off a number of his supporters because it came off as, well, a love letter to himself.

Sicko made less than a quarter of F9/11's domestic take ($25 million compared to $119 million.)

So I'd say Moore's box office clout, influence, and even his standing in Hollywood has suffered greatly. And if the history of liberal, celebrity narcissists is any indicator, he'll only make a bigger fool of himself attempting a comeback.

Author Peter Schwiezer (Makers and Takers) detailed Michael Moore's personal duplicity in his previous book Do As I Say, Not As I Do (Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy), specifically the fact that the anti-war advocate of socialized medicine filmmaker held stock in Halliburton and HMOs.

Asked to comment on Moore’s latest public statements, Schwiezer told FrontPage via email that Moore’s “influence is limited to Hollywood-types and slackers. I think his advice to Democrats is perfect.  It is guaranteed to help McCain win.”

Kathy Shaidle blogs at FiveFeetOfFury.com. Her new book exposing abuses by Canada’s Human Rights Commissions, The Tyranny of Nice, includes an introduction by Mark Steyn.

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