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Tuesday, July 27, 2004
John Edwards likes to talk about the "two Americas" in his stump speech, but tonight, I witnessed something more profound. I like to refer to it as the "tale of two Democrats".
On the one hand, Fox News loudmouth Bill O'Reilly sat down for an interview with film star and Democratic contributor Ben Affleck to discuss politics. As I would expect, Affleck was very personable, and well spoken. What I did not expect is that I would have a modicum of respect for the man after the interview ended.
O'Reilly asked Affleck all sorts of questions that the conservative man on the street would be likely to ask, given the chance. Affleck actually made sense. He even admitted "I don't think Bush is out to ruin this country." Astonishing to hear that point conceded on the air by a Hollywood Democrat. Even more shocking is the fact that Affleck is a second amendment advocate. Affleck's main objections to Bush were the tax cuts, which he believed were ill-advised (I'm guessing Affleck is a Keynesian), and that Bush behaved rashly when trying to formulate an international coalition during the days leading up to the invasion of Iraq. It is these sorts of issues that should be debated amongst people, and I believe they would, if we could just get past the "We hate Bush" rhetoric. Thus, Affleck was very likable, and I was very surprised to turn off the interview feeling that way.
Now, enter Michael Moore. What amused me was the lengths to which O'Reilly would go to secure an interview with Moore. Apparently, he avoided O'Reilly, and would only agree to an interview once he was cornered on the subway! Even then, he would only do so if the interview was unedited. So, I sat back and listened to 20 minutes of Moore's boorish blabbering.
Not surprisingly, Moore embraced the same positions he espoused in his propaganda flick, "Fahrenheit 9/11." O'Reilly asked Moore if he would ever be willing to apologize to President Bush for calling him a liar, to which Moore responded emphatically, "Bush is a liar." O'Reilly presented the 9/11 Commission findings, the Putin intelligence, the MI6 intelligence, the CIA findings, and the past policy statements of the Clinton administration. Each response by Moore was a variant of the same theme: "Bush is a liar." One gets the sense that Moore goes to bed each night repeating the same set of bizarre untruths to convince himself of their viability. It is obvious that Moore is either pathologically attached to this belief, or he fears admitting his thesis is flawed because it will illustrate how ridiculous his "documentary" really is. I am opting for the latter, even though there is definitely a sense of hysteria that oozes from Moore.
It is this hysteria that differentiates the Moore types from the Affleck types. No matter what was said to the contrary, Moore simply would not admit his error, nor will he ever. O'Reilly called this "blind ideology." I call it opportunism du jour as far as Moore is concerned, but there is a faction that truly is blind to the point of irrational behavior. We expect to see those people in the protest "cages" outside the Fleet Center. We don't expect to see them in the box seats inside, but sure enough, there they are, as animated as ever, maintaining that "the unelected president" is a hatemongerer, a homophobe, a fascist, and must be eliminated from the Presidency at all costs.
These partisans drown out the Affleck types, the Liebermans, and Breauxs of the Democratic Party, do not carry about them this edge, this hatred. They are instead rationally opposed to what Bush does, and/or how he implements it. They are entitled to their objections, and some of them make sense, to be frank. Sorting out these disagreements is what the election is supposed to accomplish. Unfortunately, the thinking types have been drowned out by the lunatic fringe, a fringe that seems to be clawing its way into the Democratic elite.
John Kerry's task is to appeal to both sides of this ideological fence, and then, to show the American public that he is a mainstream candidate with mainstream ideas. He must show which Democrat is the real Democrat, and that should be an interesting demonstration. Reasonable arguments might win the presidency for Kerry. "Bush is a liar" certainly won't.
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