Thursday, June 24, 2004

Another Nothing Issue Desperately Blown Out of Proportion

I think this whole "seven minutes" thing, given prominent attention in Fahrenheit 9/11, is an interesting phenomenom to examine from both sides of the aisle.

On the one hand, you have Michael Moore, devoting a large portion of the seven minutes of screen time to showing Bush continuing to read to school children after he's been told of the attacks. Apparently, this is an accusation that Bush was either 1) criminally unconcerned with the fact that America was under attack, 2) too stupid to know what to do, preferring to sit there like a deer in the headlights, or 3) aware that the attacks were coming, evidenced by his lack of surprise. I've heard arguments advancing all three of these interpretations from various people who have seen the film.

In response, you then get conservatives arguing that the president did exactly the right thing, and that immediately jumping up and rushing out of the room would have been needlessly upsetting and impulsive; his calm and deliberate demeanor helped to set the right tone of response for these events.

Bullshit. More than anything else, the fact that defenders of Bush feel they need to offer some kind of positive rebuttal explaining Bush's actions in this particular context shows what an ugly effect Moore's style of filmmaking has had on public discourse in general. The proper respoonse to the film's assertion is ignoring it, because it's fucking stupid.

Those seven minutes don't say anything important about Bush, good or bad. Neither would it have meant anything extraordinary if Bush had sat there five minutes, or for no time at all. I wouldn't think any less of him if he had leapt out of his seat without a parting word and left the kiddies puzzled and traumatized (although you can bet that Moore would use this scenario just as readily as proof that Bush is a bumbling and uncaring fool). Trying to draw some Big Conclusion about whether the president feels like he should continue to read for a few more minutes during a tense situation is just lame and pathetic. It's a nothing controversy.

But of course Moore tries to turn it into some breathless indictment. That's what he does. And of course many of his dullard cheerleaders in the idiot media are only too eager to salivatingly bob their empty parrot heads in enthusiastic concurrence. One of Moore's main shticks is the carefully crafted pose of ironic outrage. If only he acts fervently enough like something utterly mundane, unremarkable and widely known is an outrageous and scandalous secret, maybe the deltas will all start vibrating angrily in their seats because... well, just because.

Trying to craft a defense of Bush in this instance that goes beyond "Shut up, you're an idiot," is simply giving Moore's argument too much credit already.