MAKING ELLEN MAD (PART 1)! George Bush lied the nation to war. But thats not what riles Ellen Goodman:
TUESDAY, JULY 6, 2004
MAKING ELLEN MAD (PART 1): Then there was Ellen Goodman. Last Thursday, the Boston Globes liberal columnist recorded her thoughts about Michael Moores Fahrenheit 9/11. Like the Times Nick Kristof before her, Goodman revealed a startling belief. The Bush Admin lied the nation into war, the Globes liberal columnist said:
GOODMAN: I agreed with the filmmaker that Bush didnt exactly win the 2000 election, that we were misled into Iraq, and that the White House has used the terrorism alerts as a political toy. So add my review to the marquee: I laughed! I cried!All right, all right—we werent lied into war, we were simply misled there. (Kristof pushed this distinction, too. Links below.) But as youve noted, Goodman threw another bomb too—she said she thinks the Bush Admin has used terrorism alerts as a political toy. Knowing what a good liberal she is, youd almost think she might be upset with the man who conducted this pair of outrages. Why, youd almost think shed show some signs of being upset with George Bush!
But if you thought that, you dont understand the mind-set of your celebrity press corps. Did Bush mislead his nation into war—a war in which almost a thousand U.S. soldiers have died? Did he then use terrorism alerts as a way to toy with the nations emotions? Yes, and yes, the Globe liberal says. But who had Goodman upset last week—upset enough to write an anguished column? Goodman was upset, not with Bush, but with the young people who attended Moores movie! Heres how her column started:
GOODMAN: Maybe it was because the man on my left was doing a play-by-play when any member of the Bush team came on the screen. Maybe it was because the movie theater was within pitching range of Fenway Park.Poor Goodman! The delicate scribe had to sit with the proles, right there in the city, and some of them actually seemed upset because Bush lied their nation to war! Meanwhile, the dainty scribe wasnt bothered by boorish movie-goers alone. No, she also found herself disturbed by uncouth letter-writers:
GOODMAN: One letter writer in The New York Times described the fun of watching conservatives throw up their hands in horror and dismay as the one-man liberal attack machine scores points against them. He called it a taste of their own medicine.Well, I am happy to write prescriptions for this medicine, the Globes deeply-troubled liberal responded.. After all, those who attack Moores ad hominem attacks on the president do so with ad hominem attacks on Michael Moore. But its getting awfully rare to see anyone trying to write or speak across the political color line.
Poor Goodman! A president had lied her nation to war. He then had toyed with security warnings. But she was troubled because some unknown (and insignificant) letter-writer ignored Roberts Rules of Good Order. She was upset because some guy at the movie seemed to be rooting for Moore.
Of course, it isnt just those unruly proles who has our upscale liberal upset. Goodmans upset with Michael Moore too. Hes right that we were lied into war. And hes right about those terrorism warnings. But Moore just wont be decorous, either! He has dared to launch ad hominem attacks at the hominem who lied his nation to war! And this—not the fact that we were lied to—seems to makes Ellen so mad.
Of course, Ellen Goodman is hardly alone in these peculiar reactions. In her column, she throws scripted pseudo-con bombs at Moore—at the guy she says is right. Youve heard it all a hundred times now, recited by others reciting The Script. Moore has engaged in propaganda. His film is laced with conspiracy theories. He has taken some cheap shots at Bush. And so, like Richard Cohen before her, our poor little rich girl felt sorry for Bush—for the guy whoi lied her nation to war. When she heard that guy who was rooting for Moore, it just seemed to make Ellen mad.
Of course, if Goodman has serious objections to Moores film, those objections would be worth exploring. But tomorrow, well see that Goodman files scripted complaints against Moores film—complaints she barely bothers discussing. Bush has lied your nation to war—but something else has made Ellen mad. All this week, well see what it is. Well see what has liberal blood boiling.
TOMORROW: Making Ellen mad, part 2: Upset by that boy in Iraq
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: Goodman isnt the only Big Pundit who finds herself angry at Bushs detractors. In the Times, Kristof also said that Bush misled us to war—but he too found himself disturbed by those who were getting too angry about it (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/1/04). Meanwhile, in the Washington Post, Richard Cohen used almost half his column to complain about a single sentence in Moores film—a single sentence which is perfectly accurate (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/2/04). What has these delicate scribes so upset—not at the man who lied us to war, but at the bad manners of his detractors? All week long, THE HOWLER will let the nations proles riddle it out.
JUST ONE LITTLE HITCH: Howard Kurtz had assembled a panel to examine Moores deeply troubling film. And of course, hed included cables favorite crackpot, Chris Hitchens. Here was the pairs first exchange:
KURTZ: Christopher Hitchens, you write that the movie is a piece of crap, a sinister exercise and a big lie. I get the impression that you didnt like it.Hitchens didnt say the first thing? That would come as news to readers of Slate. Or maybe it all depends on what the meaning of piece of crap is:
HITCHENS (Slate, 6/21/04): To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of dissenting bravery.That was paragraph 3 of Hitchens review—the one from which Kurtz was quoting. Kurtz, perhaps surprised to see his guest lie in his face, continued non-plussed when he did. Why do you dislike the movie so much? the affable host blandly said.
Yes, we know—if you parse Hitchens verrrrry carefully, he didnt exactly/precisely say the naughty thing Kurtz thought he had said. But this was the perfect Hitchens moment, in which the great, crowing man displayed his growing taste for outright, groaning deception. As weve told you, Hitch has become a loud-mouthed dissembler, about whatever topic hes pimping. Hitchens has become a vast human wreck—which makes him a favorite on cable.
Overall, Kurtzs session followed the script laid down for critiques of Moores film. Are there problems with Fahrenheit 9/11? It seems fairly clear that there are. But the film also has mammoth strengths—strengths the celebrity press wont discuss. Kurtz didnt ask his guests for their view of the film; he simply asked them to list what was wrong with it. And although Kurtz had assembled a three-judge panel, the closest thing to a defender was hapless Bill Press; he said that Moore should be allowed to dissemble just the same way Rush Limbaugh does. That is also a scripted point, as well sadly see tomorrow.
What has made Ellen and these other scribes mad? All week long, well happily tell you. The massive strengths in Michael Moores film take them somewhere they simply wont go—and so they perform their latest campaign, in which they rail about propaganda while enjoying the process themselves.
Remember, though—Goodman and Press are both liberals. Or thats what the current script says.