Poor Michael Moore Seems To Have Made A Compelling and Indicting Film About the Decay of the Democratic Party and American Myths. But Ultimately Stumps For More Dems.
(Had this in the holding pen for the past few weeks. Seeing that there's been no mention of it here it is)
Nonetheless, it seems he's kind of stuck his neck out with this film "Fahrenheit 11/9" to say many of the things we've been saying here about their cowardice, complicity and corruption. That he concentrates on decisions the Dems have made that have paved the way for the Orange Buffoon I'm grateful. He is, after all, seen as high-profile and loyal Dem. And he deserves credit for an illustrious career of exposing the dark side of power by using the great prod of humor and wit to draw out subjects more fully.
But during the meltdown of 2016 GE Moore short-circuited like so many of our countrymen, and bellowed with lots of wind about the Lesser Of Two Evils (though he also smartly predicted that Trump had made inroads in the heartland stealing Bernie's populist rhetoric and would win because people are that pissed off). Looks like the folks who identify themselves as Blue Team/Lib/D's that may have been hoping to see from Moore a blind rage fest at Trump are in for a big surprise. The official trailer is disappointingly heavy on the hyperbolic Trump Fear. I haven't seen it yet.
Greenwald's excellent, vivid and incisive review gets into why it should be seen, admitting how surprised he was at his positive reaction to it. Though he believes no one will be completely happy with it and that all will squirm at various scenes he gets into depth about how Moore lays out the case against a false American mythology and the Democrats refusal to take responsibility for their part in peddling it with without intention of delivering.
David Walsh in the WSWS also acknowledges its merits but ultimately and correctly points to the contradiction and hypocrisy of its ultimate call to vote in more Dems as the solution (albeit of the progressive/socialist line).
Seems Moore spends most of the time in the film pummeling the Dems moral descent and corrupt strategies, laying the blame squarely on them for Trump's rise. Good job there. But ultimately he can't seem to break the spousal abuse syndrome.
Both are worth reading (WSWS review linked at the end).
Here's Greenwald's take in The Interecpt: Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9” Aims Not at Trump But at Those Who Created the Conditions That Led to His Rise
Moore’s film is highly worthwhile regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum. The single most significant defect in U.S. political discourse is the monomaniacal focus on Trump himself, as though he is the cause – rather than the by-product and symptom – of decades-old systemic American pathologies.
Personalizing and isolating Trump as the principal, even singular, source of political evil is obfuscating and thus deceitful. By effect, if not design, it distracts the population’s attention away from the actual architects of their plight.
This now-dominant framework misleads people into the nationalistic myth – at once both frightening and comforting – that prior to 2016’s “Fahrenheit 11/9,” the U.S., though quite imperfect and saddled with “flaws,” was nonetheless a fundamentally kind, benevolent, equitable and healthy democracy, one which, by aspiration if not always in action, welcomed immigrants, embraced diversity, strove for greater economic equality, sought to defend human rights against assaults by the world’s tyrants, was governed by the sturdy rule of law rather than the arbitrary whims of rulers, elected fundamentally decent even if ideologically misguided men to the White House, and gradually expanded rather than sadistically abolished opportunity for the world’s neediest.
But suddenly, teaches this fairy tale as ominous music plays in the background, a villain unlike any we had previously known invaded our idyllic land, vandalized our sacred public spaces, degraded our admired halls of power, threatened our collective values. It was only upon Trump’s assumption of power that the nation’s noble aspirations were repudiated in favor of a far darker and more sinister vision, one wholly alien to “Who We Are”: a profoundly “un-American” tapestry of plutocracy, kleptocracy, autocracy, xenophobia, racism, elite lawlessness, indifference and even aggressive cruelty toward the most vulnerable and marginalized.
This myth is not just false but self-evidently so. Yet it persists, and thrives, because it serves so many powerful interests at once. Most importantly, it exonerates, empowers, and elevates the pre-Trump ruling class, now recast as heroic leaders of the #Resistance and nostalgic symbols of America’s pre-11/9 Goodness.
The full picture of who we really are, clinging to a charade that there's opposition between the Duopoly parties on war, imperialism, two-tiered justice, surveillance, torture, the economy, financial speculation, trade, etc. It's all made bare now with fear of Trump pushing the bed-wetters of the Duopoly into each other's arms as they seek to enshrine the status quo revolving door of pillaging for DC insiders only:
The lie-fueled destruction of Vietnam and Iraq, the worldwide torture regime, the 2008 financial collapse and subsequent bailout and protection of those responsible for it, the foreign kidnapping and domestic rounding up of Muslims, the record-setting Obama-era deportations and whistleblower prosecutions, the obliteration of Yemen and Libya, the embrace of Mubarak, Sisi, and Saudi despots, the years of bipartisan subservience to Wall Street at everyone else’s expense, the full-scale immunity vested on all the elites responsible for all those crimes – it’s all blissfully washed away as we unite to commemorate the core decency of America as George Bush gently hands a piece of candy to Michelle Obama at the funeral of the American War Hero and Trump-opponent-in-words John S. McCain, or as hundreds of thousands of us re-tweet the latest bromide of Americana from the leaders of America’s most insidious security state, spy and police agencies.
Greenwald continues to eviscerate the tawdry sheer American-ness of it all, profit over people must be the law of the land without being so obvious, which is what Trump is and what makes them so unhinged:
Beyond nationalistic myth-building, there are substantial commercial, political and reputational benefits to this Trump-centered mythology. An obsessive fixation on Trump has single-handedly saved an entire partisan cable news network from extinction, converting its once ratings-starved, close-to-being-fired prime-time hosts into major celebrities with contracts so obscenely lucrative as to produce envy among most professional athletes or Hollywood stars.
Resistance grifters exploit fears of Trump to build massive social media followings that are easily converted into profit from well-meaning, manipulated dupes. One rickety, unhinged, rant-filled, speculation-driven Trump book after the next dominates the best-seller lists, enriching charlatans and publishing companies alike: the more conspiratorial, the better. Anti-Trump mania is big business, and – as the record-shattering first-week sales of Bob Woodward’s new Trump book demonstrates – there is no end in sight to this profiteering.
All of this is historical revisionism in its crudest and most malevolent form. It’s intended to heap most if not all blame for systemic, enduring, entrenched suffering across the country onto a single personality who wielded no political power until 18 months ago. In doing so, it averts everyone’s eyes away from the real culprits: the governors, both titled and untitled, of the establishment ruling class, who for decades have exercised largely unchecked power – immune even from election outcomes – and, in many senses, still do.
The whole thing is a tour de force and should be read in its entirety.
Excellent comments too.
Selected entries from The Intercept comments section:
So far the Trump presidency has been pretty much business as usual: untrammeled corporate rule and oppression of nonwhites at home and abroad.
What is enraging the politicians and media is his crudity and lack of decoroum in performing the role, making the empire look ridiculous.
Who is going to succeed him and return America to its 2015 greatness? Definitely somebody from the cadre that believes John McCain represented the soul of America and the very best of us.
That includes all the great leftist hopes in national politics.
Will certainly watch the film. But from the description of the film (thank you) and Moore's public persona, is a huge disconnect from the film's main thesis. From video clips and tweets I have seen, Moore seems to be fully bought into the hysterics of "Russiagate". And herein is a huge contradiction with the film.
It is axiomatic for the so-called "Resistance" that Putin installed Trump. That Putin controls Trump. And thirdly that Putin indeed was the Nazi/rapist of America's pristine democracy. Russiagate totally wipes out the CEOs, lobbyists, the money, corrupt politicians, the American oligarchs, neoliberal greed, think tanks, and every sort of political pimp that got us to this point. It was Putin who fcked the US virginal democracy. My gawd, Putin is even after the Boy Scouts now: https://www.phillyvoice.com/why-russians-might-hack-boy-scouts-next/
The public persona Michael Moore has by what I have seen, endorses Russiagate. Michael at one point called Trump a "Russian traitor", and in another called for Trump's impeachment because Trump sided with Putin. Moore has tried to walk a fine line in that he has in fact called the Russian hysterics a side show, but in essence he supports the narrative.
But then Moore is being fairly courageous for not pushing Russiagate in the film given the review as his Resistance buddies could easily turn on him. Imagine him on Bill Mahrer's show pushing the point that Putin did not put Trump into the Oval Office--Hillary and Rachel would faint.
So it's about Obama and Clinton?
You should see your ophthalmologist about that case of myopia.
Obama and Clinton are only a few of the latest iterations of a climate that existed prior to them. Greenwald began his career criticizing Dubya's presidency.
Think of it as a complex biological process...The larger the body the longer it takes for the rot to spread. The fact that the rot in the US has been going on for quite some time, and that it has lead directly to the bloated, gaseous result we're currently living with, is something that is difficult to convince people of when they walk around brandishing their party preferences like a prescription for an antibiotic that lost its effectiveness to fight the disease forty years ago. And the two party system is the pharmaceutical industry, feeding you the drug that causes your addiction with one hand...then feeding you the faux cure with the other, all while laughing at your turned back as you continue bingeing from high to low on a course that guarantees you become nothing but a husk it feeds from ... until you are drained and can be discarded to die.
As a former Michigander of many years, Mehdi's piece on several studies about the 2016 election felt cavernously incomplete. It's tempting to attribute Trump votes in the midwest to racism, because it's positively our national substrate, but that's precisely why the racism conclusion from Mehdi's piece was so disappointing and incomplete. (he admitted it wasn't the only factor, in fairness) But, it really isn't that simple. There is a profound and historical lack of culture in the midwest. It has all been scooped out, and its residents keep trying to reform their identities around failing-form-the beginning armatures (the auto industry being one of the big ones). In fact, it's so much worse than simple racism. The kind of "racism" Mehdi and those studies were attributing to the Trump voters is not the racism one feels in the Midwest. It isn't accurate with respect to how it operates. In fact, racism doesn't feel like the active part of that malaise. It's there, sure, but the active part is a population that's been starved of an education/culture for decades; its critical thinking abilities removed by a lack of culture that's been gone a long while and replaced with the strangest melding of Jesus plus Military plus football that's destroyed any sense of culture or community that sits outside Jesus/football/military, and this happens to include any other cultures but that twisted one-- literally anything, and this is where racism kind of comes into it- as one of the many fears of that population being exposed for its emptiness- no one wants to have to answer questions about this. To this bizarre culture, everything feels foreign, and Michiganders are struggling with having to deal with a global perspective that shows them that this quasi religious/sports/war thing fails to include anything real. It feels more like a fantasy Hobbit culture that doesn't want to be real. Obviously, this is a bigger topic than a comment can really cover, but Glenn, thank you. And we miss you.
Nice one, Glenn. You and Moore are right, it's time to get past this childish presidential obsession and focus instead on America's entrenched systemic and institutional failings. No question Trump is an abomination, but it wasn't him who put 90 percent of national wealth in the hands of the top 1%. Nor did he create America's racist mass incarceration / felony-branding system, or turn the political system into an open corporate and financial oligarchy. It was not Trump who established US military bases in most countries on earth or who initiated an age of endless war. Those are the fruits of DC's "adults in the room", the responsible men and women of power, and they are maladies that will likely become even more deeply entrenched in the years after Trump's departure. When American “democracy” got rid of its last gangster/monster president, Nixon, the country plunged headlong into the vicious neoliberal era, which has brought about this new Gilded Age of abject plutocracy and savage inequality. The resumption of responsible neoliberal progressivism, ached for by your critics, will keep this terrible trajectory rolling, and in time will certainly produce another of Trump's ilk, probably something worse. Too many seem to think that the remedy to Trump is to retreat quickly back to the conditions and the bribed, corporate polity that produced him.
He is accommodating the powers that be; this takes the mask off nothing, in my opinion.
All people see, thanks to Moore (and David Frum and Lindsay Graham and James Clapper)et al, is that he personally is to blame, which is of course not true.
He's just trying to stay alive and play the role now allocated for him: The Distraction. You're right about him not expecting to actually win.
No one sees "a mask taken off." They think Trump is an aberration, not a typical event. They think America is workable without...him.
People will be "relieved" when Trump is gone!
You sense that he's not supposed to be the president, so he's *real*… Yes, in a sense... But he's reminded daily that he can not cross certain lines, and he timidly doesn't, regardless of what an outrageous buffoon he's allowed to be ON TWITTER.
Hitler (incidentally) was never so afraid! Trump isn't a complete sociopathic bastard, he just plays one on TV!
If Moore could provide serious and convincing answers to these vexing and pressing problems, and perhaps indicate a way out of the present situation, he would be rendering an enormous political and moral service.
Many of the issues he touches upon—the fascistic character of the Trump White House, the sharp turn to the right by the Democratic Party leadership, the Flint, Michigan water disaster, the depths of poverty in America, the epidemic of school shootings, the cruelty of the government’s treatment of immigrants, the opioid crisis, vast social inequality—are strong arguments for workers to reject the existing economic and political system and adopt a socialist program and outlook.
However, despite various criticisms of prominent Democrats—among them Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama—and the American liberal establishment, including the New York Times, Moore urges his viewers to retain—or perhaps regain—confidence in the Democratic Party and “to save,” as he admits, “the America [i.e., the benevolent American capitalism] we’ve never had.”
Of course the RW and Neoliberal Left have been gloating that award-winning documentarist doesn't seems to be doing blockbuster box office numbers this time around (it came out a few weeks ago). Ironically it looks like the guy in Forbes seems to have gotten it right, "Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 11/9' Was Never Going To Be A Hit".
Who's going to love the former Catholic priest aspirant at this rate now, when he can't throw the easy knockout punch on the moribund, corrupt Democratic Party?