. . . Monday June 28, 2004

Love, Hate and Popcorn, The Sequel

Last week, I offered reasons why I hate Michael Moore and why I love Michael Moore.

After reflecting more on Moore over the weekend, I’m pretty sure that I hate him a lot more than I love him.

What I really find interesting here are the political ramifications. Does the release of this movie (which is selling out in the blue states) ultimately help or hurt the Kerry cause? In some ways, pre-Convention, John Kerry is like an extra in his own movie. Al Gore is making headlines with attacks on the Bush administration. MoveOn.org is producing commercials that really push the limits of appropriateness. And Moore and others are making documentaries that blast Bush and the right wing.

With the race unfolding like it is, the Republicans will make every attempt (as I’ve been predicting here) to connect Moore (especially his unfounded arguments) to Kerry and they will try to do the same with others who they think pull Kerry away from a presidential demeanor.

Currently, on their campaign website, the Bush/Cheney team is featuring a video that is introduced with the line: “This is not a time for pessimism and rage…” The video, a montage of clips from Kerry “supporters” who are described as the Coalition of the Wild Eyed, includes images such as: Clips comparing Adolph Hitler and George W Bush (which briefly appeared on the MoveOn.org site until they were quickly removed when the higher-ups were made aware of the contents – cheap trick by the Republicans, but the opening was created by MoveOn), and clips from a Michael Moore speech.

The video also includes speech outtakes from Gore, Gephardt (are they assuming he’ll be the veep pick?), Dean and Kerry. The attempt is made the link the hysteria found in the Hitler ad with the justified anger felt by many of those who oppose President Bush. In fact, if you took out the Moore quote and the Hitler video, this would have looked a whole lot more like a Kerry ad than a Bush one.

In the next few weeks it will be interesting to see if the Republicans can achieve any success in trying to tie the Kerry campaign with those who are much more anti-Bush than pro-Kerry. More interesting perhaps is the level to which the Republicans have stooped in the use of these Hitler images. Discrediting Kerry has largely failed. Now they are going after others who want them out of office. More than anything, the Bush/Cheney website (like their entire campaign) is becoming more and more about Kerry. Deperation has set in. This strategy could be a good way for them to do to themselves what Cheney suggested Pat Leahy do to himself.

And what should Dems do during the interim? Well, I suppose it makes sense to let those who are attacking the President continue with their efforts. But, it probably doesn’t make sense for members of Congress to show up to the much-covered DC premiere of Moore’s movie. And it probably doesn’t look too impressive that a key member of the 9-11 panel was there.

But we need to remember the goal here. This is not a battle over who can do the dozens more effectively. And it’s not about selling movie tickets to a film that is primarily thrilling the already converted. It’s about attracting undecideds. Common sense, facts and optimism (and there’s plenty of ammo) will attract them a whole lot more than hysteria.

In the same sense, Fox News and the Washington Times will not win over any new voters to the Bush side.

And Kerry? I have no doubt that when he comes out swinging it will be with a very optimistic message that seeks to bring people back together. Rage will not win this election. There is already too much of it in the marketplace.

Concentration is important!