No, Dude, It's Not Funny, Where's My Country?
2003-12-22 - 7:58 a.m.
So yesterday I spent a very informative evening reading "Dude, Where's My Country?" in a bookstore. I am trying to get in the habit of not buying books until I've read the ones I have. I was able to finish the whole thing in a single afternoon.
Michael Moore has his detractors, even on the left, and the detractors make a lot of valid points. Michael Moore loves to grandstand, to make a big production out of anything he does. One feels that, for him, there is no cause if there is no drama. He is unnecessarily schlumpy looking. He has a tendency to fudge the facts and edit movies to make sure that his point gets across, which naturally calls everything he's done into question. He has been called an actor, a comedian, or simply a famewhore, rather than an activist.
In other words, he's acting just like Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, and the other demons of the right wing have acted for the past decade. And do the fair-playing, spotlight-shunning, compromise making Democrats who look at Moore and roll their eyes occupy the White House, the House of Representatives, or the Senate? Last time I checked, they didn't.
I will be the first to admit that Michael Moore is often obnoxious. I was one of the many who cringed during his Oscar speech. It was neither eloquent nor appropriate for the forum it was in. Compared to the quiet, elegant message made by Gael Garcia Bernal earlier in the evening, it was pathetic. It was rude, awkward, and the most memorable moment of the evening. A bunch of people who can't remember the dress Nicole Kidman wore (which was atrocious) or who even hosted (I think it was Billy Crystal, but I wouldn't bet my lunch money on it) remember Michael. And a lot of people who are calling him a dumpy, unwashed, self-involved iconoclast are also saying "Which isn't to say that I disaagree with what he said."
Mikey has paid very careful attention to the Right Wing. He has learned their tactics well, and unlike so many of my fellow liberals, he is willing to use their strategies against them. I think a lot of it goes back to Kennedy, which many people still feel was a victory of style of substance, of charisma over experience. I think the Republicans had enough sense to take note of Kennedy's victory and try to make Kennedies of their own, getting actors like Reagan and Schwarzenegger to carry their banners. They began the creating the myth of the liberal media, while at the same time sending out their minions to turn words like "liberal," "feminist," "affirmative action," and "social services" into not so much swear words as signs of The Beast. And BOY were they mad when we got Mr. Style himself, Bill Clinton, into the Oval Office. I think that was the last straw for them. I think they were so enraged that a hick governor of a minor-league state could steal half of their platform and make off not only with the middle, but the left. Couldn't the liberals see that this guy was not one of their own? Well, Republicans, we could, but we didn't seem to care, and you knew that, didn't you?
Enter the extreme right, the monumental attempt to drag Clinton down by the seat of his frequently dropped pants, and your ultimate victory not only in winning back the legislative and executive branches, but in forcing the Democrats to take the debate further to the right, in convincing them that America is a nation of scared white heterosexual Christian men who will seal the fate of every election, in making the Democrats flip flop and change their minds and look spineless and self-serving in the eyes of their constituents. Well done. I congratulate you.
But Michael, at least, has been watching, and he is totally willing to be as loud and obnoxious as you were this past decade. He's willing to say that our nation is a liberal, feminist nation, that we all share the dream of a free and equal society with the best education system and health care system in the world, and that it will only be a matter of time before the pro-choice, pro-gay rights majority that already exists becomes a majority that cannot be ignored anymore. For me, this is a fantasy, but the possibility that it might be true is enough to make me want to vote, to convince others to vote, to work on a campaign, heck, even to run for office. I am willing to get up earlier in the morning and do shit that I don't want to do to make my country a better place. If he can inspire that feeling, then he can say the moon is made of green cheese for all I care.
At the end of the book (sorry, WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD STOP READING IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHAT HE SAYS BLAH BLAH BLAH SPOILERS SPOILERS AAAAAAH!!!) Michael Moore asks the reader who the candidates are that could 1) beat Bush and 2) represent the liberal values that make America so beautiful. He offers Dean and Kucinich (who were running at the time) and suggests drafting Wesley Clark (who wasn't running, but who was drafted in large part due to the work of Michael Moore between the writing and publishing of the book) as candidates. However, Michael doesn't stop there. He offers the one person who could undoubtedly beat Bush and who would decidedly represent all that is best about a progressive America. That candidate is none other than . . .
You know he's right. You KNOW he's right. You know that Oprah would capture the OVERWHELMING majority of the women and minority voting body, the same groups that have won every Democrat their election since Johnson. You know that Oprah would wipe the floor with Dubya in every debate they had. You know that even many conservative women would make sure that everyone in their family cast a vote for Oprah. She would win the election. Hell, she might even win Texas.
The Republicans have done it plenty of times. Why the hell can't we?
Now, I know that Oprah also has her detractors, and she has certainly made a lot of mistakes. Pride goeth before the fall, and Oprah's pride has cuased to her stumble on many occassions. She would certainly have plenty of detractors among the liberals as well, people who already sneer at her because she's just so mainstream middle America, so weepy and sentimental, so much a woman and oh so black in a world where people like that aren't supposed to be rich and famous and powerful (because in a lot of those cases, that's what's sneaking behind the Oprah hatred).
I say that Oprah Winfrey got millions of people to read Toni Morrison, along with many more of the greatest authors of our time. If you haven't done anything that cool, then you can shut the fuck up. No, shut up! NO, SERIOUSLY, SHUT! IT! NOW!!!
In what is both the most important and the most tragic factor of the Oprah candidacy, I believe in her. Yes, I know she has no experience running a country--just an empire. But I believe that, if she chose to run, she would spend every day educating herself about what it takes to be a president. She would surround herself with the best advisors possible from the worlds of politics (both national and international), economics, activism, and academia. She would listen and use her own considerable intellect to pursue a course of action that would be in the best interests of the American people, but wouldn't compromise her beliefs and her integrity. I know that she would do right by me.
I can't say that about any of the other candidates yet. Until I can, I don't think anyone can beat Bush.
Because that, ladies and gentlemen and the transgendered of all ages, is what it comes down to. In a perfect world, the Oprah candidacy would be a joke that wouldn't even need to be made. We do not live in that world. I feel abandoned by the Democrats and have no confidence in the Greens, but I know that only by putting aside our differences and pushing forth a powerful candidate can we get these monsters out of the seat of power. Michael Moore has shown that he is willing to do whatever it takes to take the country back from the people who have let it into war and ruin, and that's way more than I can say for most of the Democrats currently in office.
The title is unfortunate, and the information should always be taken with a grain of salt (the same holds true for Rush and Anne and Bill, so don't get all snooty, you conservatives), but "Dude, Where's My Country?" will hopefully get some left-wingers thinking that its time to beat Republicans at their own game before we take the ball back into our territory.
It might even get them thinking that it's time for an African-American woman to do something in the Oval Office other than bow to a Bush.
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