By MARC McDONALD
After a hiatus, we're back in action. And today, we're unveiling a new regular series on this blog.
Welcome to the first edition of Progressive Movie Theater, a series in which we take a look at notable progressive/left-leaning cinema.
Our film today is Michael Moore's 2004 documentary film Fahrenheit 9/11. After more than a decade, the film still is an effective indictment of the disastrous Bush/Cheney years.
I recall watching Fahrenheit 9/11 in the theater here in Texas (not exactly a blue state). After the film was over, I heard the loudest and most enthusiastic applause I've ever heard in a movie theater. Similar reaction was noted in theaters across the U.S.
It was clear that many people across the U.S. were frustrated and fed up with the Bush administration. And Fahrenheit 9/11 did a good job of expressing our frustrations. It's important to note that, at the time, Bush was still being treated with kid gloves by the mainstream media.
Indeed, in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Bush's approval rating had soared to 90 percent. I'm still unclear as to exactly why this was. After all, the 9/11 attacks represented a spectacular failure on the part of the mega-trillion-dollar Military Industrial Complex's presumed first priority (to protect the homeland). As Commander-in-Chief, Bush hardly displayed competent leadership in the period leading up to the attacks.
And yet the nation rallied around Bush after 9/11. It's impossible to fathom something like that happening today if another 9/11-style attack occurred. The fact is, there would certainly be no honeymoon for President Obama. Let's face it: from Day One, there would be constant calls for Obama's resignation, as well as calls for impeachment. The attacks would in fact haunt the Democratic Party as a whole for decades to come.
In any case, back to Fahrenheit 9/11. I maintain that Moore's angry film was probably the first successful high-profile pinprick of the Bush White House. For Bush, it was all downhill from there. After the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina, Bush's popularity went into a nose dive and never recovered. Indeed, today, he is still widely regarded as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history.
But back in 2004, Moore was there, on the big screen, telling us that Bush was a disastrous president---really back before any other major media figure dared express such a view. In the years to come, Moore was vindicated, time and again.
As Moore stated in his Oscar speech on March 23, 2003 (only four days after the start of the Iraq War):
"We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons."
It was a remarkably prescient remark, made at a time when all the serious "conventional wisdom" was in agreement with Bush's insistence that Saddam had WMDs. Of course, as it turned out, Moore was right and Bush/Cheney and the other warmongering NeoCons were revealed to be a bunch of liars.
I find that Fahrenheit 9/11 holds up very well over a decade later. There are still many important questions the film raises that have never been adequately explained.
But one thing I find fascinating is that, if you really listen to the film's message, it's clear that the villain of Fahrenheit 9/11 wasn't really the Bush/Cheney NeoCons. It was the mainstream media.
After all, one can't really blame Bush/Cheney for their warmongering and illegal and immoral behavior, any more than you can blame a lion who eats a small child who wanders into his cage. That's what lions do. And invading other nations on false pretences to steal their oil is what you'd expect from a bunch of corrupt thugs like the Bush/Cheney NeoCons.
No, let's take a look at the film's real villains: the mainstream media. It's clear that, at every step of the Bush/Cheney administration, the media completely and totally failed to properly investigate what was going on and to deliver the truth to the American people. If the media had done its job, I believe the Iraq War would probably have never taken place. But instead of doing its job, media outlets like The New York Times assured us that Bush's case for war was solid. Those were the real villains of the Bush/Cheney years.
Incidentally, Moore has a new film on the way, Where to Invade Next. It should be released in the next couple of months. Below, you can view the trailer for this film.