Politics

Michael Moore on Obama: He's Awesome, Except When He's Not, But Vote for Him Anyway Because Romney Is Awful

Don't any of these people know there are other choices than the two major parties?

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confuses principles with partisanship

Michael Moore was pumped after the Democratic Convention in Charlotte last week, as many Democrats were, and he penned an op-ed to warn his fellow-travelers not to get too comfortable and think that Obama's going to win just because they got a "contact high after this past week." Michael Moore defines the Obama supporter as "the sort who believes in economic justice, peace, and a five-dollar latte."

He then points out that, about that whole Barack Obama saving Detroit thing:

No, he didn't. He saved General Motors and Chrysler. "Detroit" (and Flint and Pontiac and Saginaw) are not defined by the global corporations who suck our towns dry and then split town to make more money elsewhere (except, of course, they continued to design and built crap cars, so eventually they didn't make the money at all). These cities in Michigan are about the people who live here, and in the process of "saving Detroit," Mr. Obama had to fire thousands of these people, and reduce the benefits and pensions of those who were left. There's a lot of pissed off people in Michigan (and Wisconsin and Ohio), people who weren't saved even though the corporation was. I'm just stating a fact, and those of you who don't live here should know this. 

Michael Moore's primary thesis is that America is a liberal country:

The majority of Americans (who do not call themselves "liberal") now support most of the liberal agenda—they're for gay marriage, they're pro-choice, they're anti-war, they believe there's global warming, and they hate Wall Street for what it has done to them and their neighbors. The Republicans know this: that we, the majority, will have sex when we want and with whom we want, will read and watch whatever we want when we want, will use marijuana if we want and if we don't want to then we certainly don't want our friends who do to be throw [sic] into prison."

i'll take what's behind the tree

Avid readers of Reason, or just skeptics of the two-party system, know there's a lot wrong with that passage. Even conceding the proposition that the majority of Americans support the things Moore says they do, a few of them aren't positions shared by either Obama or Mitt Romney. Anti-war? The most anti-war person at either convention was likely Clint Eastwood and, of course, Rand Paul. Neither was a DNC speaker. Americans may not want to see their friends go to prison for using marijuana, but both presidential candidates are strictly anti-legalization and anti-decriminalization of marijuana. Obama has prosecuted an aggressive campaign against medical marijuana dispensaries in places like Colorado and California, where the industries have been burgeoning. Funny enough there is a candidate that supports most of what Moore identifies as the "liberal agenda" most Americans support, but its neither Obama nor Romney.

but he's a good and decent person, so that makes up for the extrajudicial killings

He does acknowledge some of the failures liberals see in Obama as well:

For those of us who believe that the history of the Democrats and the Republicans is to do the bidding of the 1% (Obama's #1 private contributor in '08 were the people at Goldman Sachs), and that while the Dems are a kinder/gentler bunch, they are also just as quick to want to take us to war and sell us out to the corporate interests (and, yes, Obamacare is a $$ gift to the insurance companies; only a single-payer system will stop that), this election is a bit of a bitter pill… He's a good and decent person (when he's not sending in drones to kill Pakistani civilians or prosecuting government whistleblowers), and his election four years ago was a high point of such emotional intensity I just couldn't get over how hopeful I was that this country had changed and we had found our moral footing. Reality set in a few weeks later when he put Tim Geithner and Larry Summers in charge of economic policy and then he changed his mind about closing Gitmo.

This passage calls into mind the joke about the difference between Democrats and Republicans being that the former applies lube before performing a certain sex act on you and the latter does not, but Moore's almost throw-away comment about "sending in drones to kill Pakistani civilians" and "prosecuting government whistleblowers" really does a disservice to the horror of those policies. Obama, after all, also sends drones to kill people in Yemen and Somalia (places that we know of; remember the drone war is still a SECRET), tried to renege on America's promise to Iraq to end the war last year, and is trying to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan until 2024 while publicly trumpeting a 2014 withdrawal date.

Moore finishes by declaring himself an optimist, hoping that "Second Term Obama" will be the "real Obama" and that the Right's "worst nightmare does come true."

Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report analyzed the kind of thinking on display in Moore's op-ed in a piece earlier this year that labeled Obama "the more effective evil." Ford wrote:

The prevailing assumption on the Left is that Obama has good intentions. He intends to the Right Thing – or, at least, he intends to do better than the Republicans intend to do. It's all supposed to be about intentions. Let's be clear: There is absolutely no factual basis to believe he intends to do anything other than the same thing he has already done, whether Democrats control Congress or not, which is to serve Wall Street's most fundamental interests. But, the whole idea of debating Obama's intentions is ridiculous. It's psycho-babble, not analysis. No real Left would engage in it.

Psycho-babble. After all you, could argue Bush was a "good and decent person" too, when he wasn't starting illegal wars or disappearing and torturing suspected terrorists. That statement might not sit as well with Moore, an avid Bush-basher in the 2000s, and those like him, but not because of any substantive difference in the bloody foreign policies the two men have pursued, but because Obama is on Team Blue like Moore is, and Bush is not. After all, if Moore really felt deeply about war and the horrible things done in our names overseas, he'd find a candidate that actually opposes those things, not shill for a president who turned the Bush doctrine into bipartisan policy and whose victory this November would push the anti-war left even further out of the Democratic mainstream, just because he feels he's a "good and decent" person.

A few months ago I listed four positions (including his position on war) Obama supporters attribute to the president that aren't actually so and last month I listed some of the bipartisan myths that will be pushed by both parties and their most avid supporters through the election. You can pick out which ones Moore helped out with.