Using Bees To Effect Vengeance

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Friday, July 02, 2004
Lots of interesting responses to the below post.

There's an argument to be made that, as Julie says, we need "unethical assholes". The presumption is that the unethical behavior (i.e eliding the truth in flicks like F9/11) furthers the goal of having more voters vote for Kerry. I've argued that the film does not achieve that goal, because it's not made very well.

I hope I'm wrong, but when I imagined myself as the Platonic swing voter, I was turned off by the dismissal of Afghanistan, the slagging off of non-ideologues like Blair and Powell (whom middle-of-the-road people do not see as Bush/Cheney true believers), and in the early part of the film, the way servicemen and women were portrayed, etc. Plus Moore chose to avoid the much more powerful and credible ideology/incompetence argument. If I'm right, you have the worst of both worlds from a vote-counting perspective: swing voters leave the theatre feeling like their values are not aligned with the filmmakers', and to the extent that this feeling is associated with Democrats, our chances of recapturing the White House are injured...PLUS whatever appeal we had to moderates as the less-slimy party has been eroded somewhat.

If I'm wrong and the "leapfrog over reasonablemindedness" works, then that's great. I'm just left with my distaste for propaganda, which understandably, not everyone shares in this high-stakes environment.

Julie's "firing up the base" point is good, but they're going to vote for Kerry no matter what. I would worry the benefits of that type of firing up are outweighed by the turning of off swing voters.

A few people have pointed me to the Krugman article, but you'll be shocked to discover that I'm not wholly convinced (even though I usually love him):

There has been much tut-tutting by pundits who complain that the movie, though it has yet to be caught in any major factual errors, uses association and innuendo to create false impressions. Many of these same pundits consider it bad form to make a big fuss about the Bush administration's use of association and innuendo to link the Iraq war to 9/11. Why hold a self-proclaimed polemicist to a higher standard than you hold the president of the United States?

Straw man argument. I do not consider it bad form to make a big fuss about the way the Bush administration sold the war in Iraq. I consider it essential to make that fuss, as do most of my fellow Democrats. So I would turn the argument around -- how can we legimitately criticize Bush for feeding voters a bunch of bullshit to justify ends he feels are hugely important (reshaping the Middle East) when we do exactly the same thing (winning the election)?

Krugman then makes good points about how Moore is exposing facts about Bush's background and character which have been avoided by mainstream media -- true enough -- and how he does a good job of showing how the poor pay the price for these wars (something I've already complimented him on). I just didn't walk away feeling like Moore had pinned these on Bush in a way that would stick...the dots were not connected. Still, he's on safer ground here than when discussing 9/11 or the war on Terror...perhaps this is where people will be converted. I don't know.

I don't expect campaigns to be fought nicey-nicey, and there are plenty of tactics that I would be happy to have Democrats throw back at Republicans (e.g making a big stink about something completely inconsequential and forcing them on the defensive is a classic move). But when there's so much fertile stuff to nail the Bush administration for, it's disappointing to have to resort to misdirection. Plus I don't think it will work. I much would have preferred that Errol Morris made this film (although I understand he's directing ads for MoveOn.)


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