Politics is beginning to get very interesting. I think the 2004 election is going to be a doozie, and it certainly helped that the last election reinforced the importance of voting (I suppose for some people it did the opposite, but I hope we have enough faith in democracy to realize that we’ll do our best to count the votes, but we can’t count yours if you don’t vote). Even if nothing happened during the past three years, this would be an interesting election year. But with September 11, the weakening economy, the rising unemployment, and the sprawling war on terrorism, it’s a huge election.
And the group of candidates is beginning to look as large and ridiculous as the California recall candidates. I hope the Democrats wise up and start trimming the ranks soon. The Howard Dean and Wesley Clark phenomena’s are especially interesting, and I’m eager to see how that plays out.
It gets especially interesting as all the critics and loud-mouths have to put their two cents in. Molly Ivins’ book, Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush’s America, came out this week, which is a scathing analysis of Bush’s first term. You can put that one right next to Shrub: the Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush, which came out during the 2000 election. Despite the overwhelming bias, I’m curious to pick up these titles.
And my favorite loud-mouth, Michael Moore is releasing a book next month, Dude, Where’s My Country? It follows his best-selling Stupid White Men and well-received, yet factually questioned Bowling for Columbine. Now I like Michael Moore. He stands up for issues that we don’t normally think about. He stood up for the automotive workers in the 1980s with his documentary Roger & Me. He stood up for workers again in the 1990s with Downsize This. While I don’t agree with all his views, he does make a powerful point on social justice issues.
At the same time, he comes off with this false-humility that just grates on me. When his facts are challenged, he doesn’t stand up. I wrote about this back in April (see April 6, 2003), and examined some of the factual questions relating to Stupid White Men and Bowling for Columbine. Moore has answered some of the issues on Bowling for Columbine, but he doesn’t even listen to himself. He attacks his attackers just like they attack him, trying to discredit his critics rather than just answer them. His writing is packed with arrogance and makes me wish for once he’d admit that he doesn’t know everything. I’d respect him so much more if he stopped playing the innocent liberal, the simple man with a microphone and camera.
I’d also be interested to see Moore’s response to the Nader effect. In the 2000 elections Moore supported Nader, encouraging Americans to vote for a third party and let their voice be heard, refusing to believe that a vote for Nader was a vote for Bush. Of course that’s exactly what happened. I don’t want to blame it all on Nader, because there should be room for another political party. It’s just a bit odd seeing how anti-Bush Moore is. Of course Moore blames it all on the Supreme Court and the vote counting mess and whatever other conspiracy theories he can come up with. You wouldn’t want to admit you’re wrong.
Of course the biggest question of all is Iraq. There are so many things up the air that could change the race. Weapons of mass destruction were our justification, but none have been found. We can justify the war in other ways, but that’s Monday-morning quarterbacking. That was our justification, we stuck by it, and so far we’re wrong. That’s not cool. The post-war reconstruction is another joke. I’m beginning to wonder how much planning was really done in the first place. We’ve got a first rate military, but all we can do is blow stuff up. We don’t have a clue how to put anything back together. That’s got to change. Bush needs to find a way to put Iraq back together, or it’s going to be one messy election if soldiers are dying as weekly poll results come in. I’m all about finishing the job, but so far all we’ve managed is worsen our image the kind of terrorist state we’re trying to root out.
Ah, the joys of politics. Where does it go from here?
(a half-hour later:)
So after spouting off against Michael Moore, I decided I should read a bit and see his response to the whole Nader thing. He claims that most Nader supporters changed their mind at the last minute and voted for Gore. What was 5% of the vote in early polls dropped to 3% when the actual voting happened. Instead of Nader being issue, Moore decided to unleash his venom on the Electoral College, demanding that the popular vote should decide the election, which would have declared Gore the winner.
Or he could blame Monica.
Or he could blame the Supreme Court.
Sheesh. As for his popular vote comments, I thought the purpose of the Electoral College was that a president is chosen by the proportionate size of each state. It’s a mixing of the Senate (every state gets two senators) and the House of Representatives (each state gets representatives based on its population), so each state is has more of a say in the election. Otherwise candidates could completely ignore states with lower populations because those states don’t matter. Maybe I’m screwing it up, but I thought that was the purpose for a electoral system where you can win the popular vote but lose the election.
But however you work it out, it’s kind of funny how none of these issues are raging anymore. That whole thing is behind us. I don’t know if it’s 9/11 or our fickle nature, but we don’t seem to remember the election mess of 2000, and I wonder if it will come back to haunt us.
At any rate, it’s a lot of fun reading Michael Moore’s rantings. I don’t always agree with him, but man does he get going sometimes.