420 Seconds

Historians will document for future generations our accomplishments and failures as a nation. While the most insightful comments of our past and present actions will not be able to be fully realized for many years to come, some short term thinkers are trying to write into history falsehoods and lies for lack of a better term. One of those people is none other than propagandist Michael Moore.

Moore has made a very good living disseminating information to the public that lacks candor. It began with his film Bowling for Columbine, which had promoted many mistruths to the American public. Moore's latest, Fahrenheit 9/11 is doing much the same but has much more problematic implications.

While most of the populace understands Moore's intent, the truth is that Fahrenheit 9/11 is a practice in deception and misdirection. The movie did very well both domestically and in foreign markets, but it is based on nothing more than one man's desire to remove a sitting president from power.

There are a couple of themes that I would like to discuss in regards to his cinematic exploration. With Moore popping into the Democratic National Convention and his media blitz tour, there are several arguments that he is using that are intellectually dishonest.

Moore's movie premise that President Bush is directly tied to the Saudi's via payments to the Carlyle Group in the amount of $1.4 billion. This claim has been rebuffed by Newsweek's Michael Isikoff who writes:

A cursory examination of the claim reveals some flaws in Moore’s arithmetic—not to mention his logic. Moore derives the $1.4 billion figure from journalist Craig Unger’s book, “House of Bush, House of Saud.” Nearly 90 percent of that amount, $1.18 billion, comes from just one source: contracts in the early to mid-1990’s that the Saudi Arabian government awarded to a U.S. defense contractor, BDM, for training the country’s military and National Guard. What’s the significance of BDM? The firm at the time was owned by the Carlyle Group, the powerhouse private-equity firm whose Asian-affiliate advisory board has included the president’s father, George H.W. Bush.

Leave aside the tenuous six-degrees-of-separation nature of this “connection.” The main problem with this figure, according to Carlyle spokesman Chris Ullman, is that former president Bush didn’t join the Carlyle advisory board until April, 1998—five months after Carlyle had already sold BDM to another defense firm.

Most importantly, the movie fails to show any evidence that Bush White House actually has intervened in any way to promote the interests of the Carlyle Group.


One can easily see, the allegation sounds great, but is not backed up by any truth. This may work well with the black helicopter crowd, but one should be very skeptical of a movie which promotes itself as being truthful but misleads more often then it sticks to the facts.

Former President Bill Clinton also disputes Moore's claims about the reasoning behind the war in Iraq. In the June 28, 2004 issue of Time, Bill Clinton stated:

You know, I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the left on Iraq even though I think he should have waited until the U.N. inspections were over. I don't believe he went in there for oil. We didn't go in there for imperialist or financial reasons.

After 9/11, let's be fair here, if you had been president, you'd think, Well, this fellow bin Laden just turned these three airplanes full of fuel into weapons of mass destruction, right? Arguably they were super-powered chemical weapons. Think about it that way. So your sitting there as president, you're reeling in the aftermath of this, so yeah, you want to go get bin Laden and do Afghanistan and all that. But you also have to say, Well, my first responsibility is to try everything possible to make sure that this terrorist network and other terrorist networks cannot reach chemical and biological weapons or small amounts of fissile material. I've got to do that. That's why I supported the Iraq thing. There was a lot of stuff unaccounted for.

You couldn't responsibly ignore [the possibility that] a tyrant had these stocks. I never really thought he'd use them. What I was far more worried about was that he'd sell this stuff or give it away. Same thing I've always been worried about North Korea's nuclear and missile capacity. I don't expect North Korea to bomb South Korea, because they know that it would be the end of their country. But if you can't feed yourself, the temptation to sell this stuff is overwhelming. So that's why I thought Bush did the right thing to go back.

There you have one of the left's own defending our actions towards Iraq. After 9/11 happened, it would have been irresponsible for the current administration to ignore such a threat. While many reasonable people can argue this point, let's at least have an honest debate.

In his media blitz across the country, Michael Moore likes to ask his critics if they would send their child to Iraq to defend Fallujah. While I have yet to see anyone clearly answer him, I would like to answer his question. First of all, our military is a volunteer service. Each and every member of the armed forces over in Iraq is there because they offered their services to their country. These are not "children" as Moore claims, but adults who have bravely offered themselves to defend our country against all enemies both foreign and domestic. They are all making huge sacrifices so that we can all (including Moore), live in a free society. Instead of questioning their service, Moore should be thankful that we have such brave heroes willing to put their lives on the line.

Moore then claims that they are only there because the "Bush economy" is so bad that they have no other choice. Unless freedom and security are achieved, the economy will always be at the mercy of terrorist groups and regimes intent on the destruction of the West. This is a war that must be waged and won in order to maintain our current way of life. The American dream depends on our success and cannot allow the terrorists to dictate our way of life. If we stand down in the face of adversity, it only makes the enemy stronger.

Our country becomes safer by every step we take at dismantling terrorist groups and regimes that support them. One action alone is not going to bring down our enemy.

Another one of Moore's tricks is to make the president look foolish for being in the classroom for seven minutes on the morning of September 11th after learning of the second plane hitting the World Trade Center. That's right; Moore believes that those 420 seconds that the president waited before excusing himself were crucial and unacceptable.

Since bin Laden declared war on America back in 1996, what in the world is 420 seconds of time to let the President of the United States think about the full implications of what was happening going to matter? Whatever was going through his mind is something that only he knows. For Moore to second guess and ridicule him is pointless. Everything that needed to be done was done. There are not too many people who don't think that President Bush was a true leader following the 9/11 attacks. Moore is just looking for any way to make President Bush look less presidential. It doesn't work.

While there are many people who were against the war on Iraq, none have had the damaging impact that Michael Moore's propaganda has. Many people do not spend the time to fact check his work, nor should they have to. You can be against the war for many reasons, but to be so due to this movie is downright foolish. Moore should have more integrity than that when making his movies, at least to be honest and say that his movie is not factual. Between the lies and made up scenes, there seems to be no end to the mistruth in this movie. You can take any president and make him look foolish with soundclips and innuendo. But Moore's attempt to do so in such a dishonest way at a time where the future of this country depends on our victory borders on treason.

There are many valid reasons to criticize this president and his administration. However, it should be done with honesty and facts. Propaganda cannot be tolerated in such times. Can you imagine a movie like this one coming out during World War II, it seems inconceivable.

So while his movie has surpassed the $100 million mark, Moore can rest assured in one thing. The movie Jackass made $ 64 million in revenues, which just proves that Michael Moore is rising to twice the fool that those people were. It is time America treats him as such.

Posted by Timothy Perry at August 2, 2004 10:36 AM