Tuesday, July 13, 2004

So, Um, Has Anyone Else Seen Fahrenheit 9/11?

~ Because I'm having a hard time finding things written about it on the internet. ~

Maybe I just don't get around enough on ye olde internet, but I have yet to see the single most important accomplishment of Fahrenheit 9/11 -- and, not coincidentally, the most potentially damaging to the re-election efforts of George Bush -- explicitly stated. It has, in quite dramatic fashion, linked together two important and effectively irrefutable notions, to wit, that the President is a moron, and that the Iraq war has had devastating consequences for numerous people and their families.

To which Bush supporters immediately object, asking how such a slander against the President can be irrefutable - Moore's movie has been thoroughly debunked1, anyone supporting Moore is a sociopath of one variety or another2, the fires of insane Bush-hatred are anathema to patriotic Americans3, and what are your qualifications to judge such things4?

Fair enough, but you will notice the qualifier "effectively." The clever thing about Moore's portrayal of Bush is that he doesn't do the stupid thing and try to change the public's perception of him (by, say, arguing that he wants to take over the world), he does the smart thing and merely reinforces a theme which most Americans already agree is essentially correct -- the aforementioned moron thesis -- while stripping it of the various positive qualities (moral clarity, vision, strength of will) that Bush backers would have you believe bloom in the fertile mental soil an absence of intelligence begets. There are a number of things one could potentially see in the President's visage during the now-famous seven minutes immediately following Card's informing him that the country was under attack, but blossoming determination is not one of them unless one is tempermentally predisposed to see good in everything Bush does, which would place one in a demographic already lost to both Democrats and hope.

As to the second point, I don't see anyone arguing that there have not been adverse consequences to the war; the most common (and really, the only workable) rhetorical tactic is to try to drown said consequences in a flood of positive news - the deservedly maligned "re-opened schools" line of argument. The importance of F9/11 is that it highlights, in an undeniably visceral manner, the impact the war has had on the people that both Left and Right have spent three years talking up: soldiers and their familes. There is a vast difference between reading "3 marines killed in Iraq" on the front page of the newspaper and watching a blood-soaked soldier screaming in pain while being carried by stretcher to the medic, and that difference is what gives F9/11 its power.

Essentially, the true force behind the movie is not the intricate connections between the Bush family and the Saudis (although the fact that people who a few months back were yelling "John Kerry Jane Fonda John Kerry Jane Fonda John Kerry Jane Fonda" are angry at people saying "George Bush the Saudis George Bush the Saudis George Bush the Saudis," despite the greater accuracy and relevence of the later, is most amusing to me), nor even the explicit charge of misleading the country into war, but rather the question implied by the juxtaposition of the above theses: "Were Americans unnecessarily hurt or killed because the President is stupid?"

Yes, this is merely a crude version of attacks on the Administration's competence that have been coming from Democrats for years. And yes, there is not, and by definition cannot be, proof that Bush's personal lack of intelligence directly resulted in harm to Americans.

But so what? Merely asking the question (especially in an easy-to-digest visual format) raises doubts about the wisdom of re-electing George Bush, and crude is another way of saying "appeals to the lowest common denominator," and while appealing to the lowest common denominator is justly reviled, the reason people do it is because it's the best way to reach the most people, and I fully support the mass-distribution of the idea that stupidity in the Oval Office is a bad thing.

And to those that would call this an endorsement of dishonesty, please explain to me why the difference between "the President is stupid and got people hurt" -- which is the message I want put out -- and "the President is unable to understand, due to personality or lack of capacity, the complexities of foreign policy, and is therefore incapable of refereeing inter-departmental feuds or evaluating the merits of alternate courses of action, which leads to a foreign policy determined by inflexible ideology, personal agendas, and amount of access to the President, which resulted in costly mistakes that didn't have to happen" -- which is what I actually believe -- is vast enough to be characterized as "dishonesty."

1 No it hasn't, you are wrong.

2 No they aren't, you are wrong.

3 It's not hate in the sense that you mean it, it's not insane, it's not antithetical to patriotism, and you are an asshole.

4 I'm an American citizen, and fuck you.

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