Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Jesse Larner on Moore and Bush

Clive Davis posts an interview with one Jesse Larner, an interesting fellow who wrote a book criticizing Michael Moore. What's so interesting about that, you say? Hasn't that been done quite a few times before? Well, not from the left, which is where Mr. Larner is coming from.

Larner seemed strangely split in the interview, which certainly isn't surprising. On the one hand, he seems to see Moore clearly enough, and to disagree with Moore's playing fast and loose with the facts. On the other hand (and perhaps my own bias is showing here), he seems so rabid about Bush that he thinks quoting any actual facts about him to be quite unnecessary. In this passage of Larner's, for example,

Moore gets the historical and political specifics wrong in many regards, but he is entirely right in his assessment of Bush's character. I really do see Bush as a creepy, conscienceless, arrogant, narcissistic, strutting little sociopath who believes he was appointed by god to the presidency...

Larner comes perilously close to the old "fake, but accurate" position here. He seems to be saying that Moore is right about Bush because--well, because Larner agrees with Moore that Bush is a creep, so it doesn't have to be proven, it's just self-evident. Very strange, this Bush Derangement Syndrome. Bush is many things, and there are certainly valid criticisms that can be made (and are made every day) about him. But surely Larner can do better than these over-the-top ad hominem attacks (although I'm also sure there are some commenters here who will hold the truth of Larner's remarks to be self-evident).

Larner also seems a bit sloppy about the words "liberal" and "leftist," sometimes seeming to distinguish them, and sometimes using them somewhat interchangeably. To me, they are two quite different species, although of course there is some crossover and overlap.

And then there's that "Bush stole the election" meme, stated, once again, without offering proof. Now, at the time of that election, I was still a total liberal Democrat, voted for Gore and didn't like Bush at all (not at all). I was very upset by the election's outcome--but I never for a moment saw Bush as stealing the election.

You can disagree with the Supreme Court's decision (which I did at the time), but you cannot deny that Bush went through the legal process. If the Democrats must criticize, why don't they just say the legal process failed? Or that they don't agree with the electoral college system, because it can have the effect of someone losing the popular vote but winning the election, as happened in 2000? (Although I noticed that it didn't seem many of them would have been the least bit perturbed had that very thing happened in 2004, with a far greater gap in the popular vote, as long as Kerry had won).

Certainly there are points one could fairly criticize in the 2000 election. But, "stole?" To use a word like that and not justify it is merely inflammatory rhetoric, exactly what Larner says he's against. The truth is that the 2000 election was a statistical dead heat, in Florida and as a whole, and I cannot understand this continual cry of "theft" from otherwise intelligent people. And, for what it's worth, I thought so even when I was a Democrat.


At 12:41 PM, June 08, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I gave up on the interview pretty quickly because:

"There is no party in American contemporary life, for example, that seeks a national, single-payer health care system. Or that advocates a steeply graduated income tax. Or that proposes full civil rights for gay people. There is no movement or party doing these things, certainly not the national Democratic Party. So I don't think that left politics exists in this country, and it's important to understand that."

The electorate defeated all these initiatives not once, but repeatedly. The problem with the Democratic left is that American voters reject their ideas. Back to the drawing board? Or just continue the strategy of trying to win via lawsuit and judicial fiat?

At 1:10 PM, June 08, 2005, Blogger goesh said...

I had forgotten about M. Moore. I think many people have.

At 2:19 PM, June 08, 2005, Blogger Minh-Duc said...

If I am a anti-war advocate, I would consider Michale Moore to be a liability to the movement.

At 4:53 PM, June 08, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 2000 election was effectively a tie, in that the margin between the candidates was clearly less than the margin of error in the voting process. Unfortunatley, we have no legal definition of, or process for resolving, a tied election other than what we saw that November - a second campaign, conducted through the courts, which is guaranteed to leave the losers embittered.

Overall I felt like Bush had the stronger position because he had come out ahead through the "normal" process which took place before the closeness of the result was understood. After that point it was impossible for any of the actors to set aside the knowledge that their technical judgments (is that chad punched through, or not?) could decide the presidency.

At 9:43 PM, June 08, 2005, Blogger Pancho said...

a creepy, conscienceless, arrogant, narcissistic, strutting little sociopath

It's strange that so many types like Mr. Larner use qualities that they themselves undoubtedly possess when describing others. One would almost think, "self loathing".

At 4:24 AM, June 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My "History of the Modern World" by Paul Johnson, talking about Kennedy's victory over Nixon in 1960, asks "... if he did win it legally. Of nearly 69 million votes cast, Kennedy had a margin of only 120,000, and this was clouded by rival interpretations of the vote in Alabama. Kennedy had a majority of 84 in the electoral college, which was what mattered. But here again, irregularities in Texas and, still more, in Illinois by the notorious Daley machine, cast doubt on the validity of the Kennedy victory. Nixon did not challenge the result because he thought it would damage the presidency, and so, America. Such restraint earned him no credit." I don't know how true this is; but I agree with a previous post, that when, with a huge electorate, the candidates are pretty well neck and neck, and there is no constitutional way of determining precisely the result, that result will always be messy. I am also of the opinion that if the electorate is divided so evenly, in a way, it doesn't matter WHO gets in, because half the electorate, either way, will feel disenfranchised; one might almost just toss a coin. The complexities of mass voting in a democracy are such that only decisive majorities show the election to have "worked". I don't really think it is a big deal. I'm glad Bush got in, but if he hadn't, I would have judged any of his rivals on their performance - as indeed, I judge Bush. If he fouls up, he loses my support. Not that it makes much difference, since I'm not an American!

At 10:36 AM, June 09, 2005, Blogger ShrinkWrapped said...

I agree that liberal and left have always been distinguishable, but in practice, I think the left has taken over the Democratic party and is setting the agenda. Since the "liberal" wing of the party will never dissociate itself from the ACLU, UN, AI, New York Times, it is no longer inaccurate to conflate the left and the liberals. Real liberals, ie those who respect the opinions of others even when they disagree, and support freedom and democracy around the world, even when it is necessary to not only "talk softly" but to also "carry a big stick", are no longer welcome in the Democratic party.

At 11:01 AM, June 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like you, Neoneocon, I live surrounded by people who describe themselves as liberals and Democrats. (I would describe myself as a classical liberal, but never mind that distinction.) These are people who are shocked to hear my views on Bush - when I express them, that is, which is rarely. I find Bush unappealing, certainly, and his inability to speak correctly or persuasively mortifies me. But these are aesthetic concerns, and when Bush embarrasses me I think of that wonderful line from Freud about the narcissism of small differences. The point is that Bush is doing the right thing about Iraq and doing it in the only humane way possible.
The cognitive dissonance I endure daily is dizzying and disorienting, and sometimes I question my own motivations. Am I operating out of some perverse need to be contrarian, to keep people at a distance perhaps? How is it that EVERYONE I know disagrees with me?
Then I remember the claims of the stolen election, and I feel dizzy once again -- as if I had been set spinning in reverse this time. I was watching, paying attention closely. There was no theft, and the fact that this ubermyth has become an item of unquestioning faith in the minds of everyone I know staggers me.(I like your suggestion that perhaps there was a failure of the legal system.) So I ask myself: am I reassured at this evidence that I'm right and everyone I know is wrong? Or would I find it less disturbing to be persuaded to believe the opposite? I think it's the latter, because at least that belief would seem to be plausible.
I'm reading your blog daily, and gratefully.

At 11:31 PM, June 09, 2005, Blogger camojack said...

To be brutally frank, when I voted in the 2000 election, it was not so much for Bush as against Gore...who I perceived as merely an extension of the current (at the time) corrupt regime.

Much like yourself, 9-11-01 changed my perceptions; I was really impressed how Bush "came into his own", and did what needed to be done about a situation that had been worsening for years.

When I voted in 2004, it was FOR Bush, emphatically...

At 9:08 AM, June 13, 2005, Blogger Stephen M. St. Onge said...

      Concerning the election of 2000, Jerry Pournelle had the best take.  He said, based on his experience as deputy mayor of Los Angeles under Sam Yorty, that the important thing was to have a set of rules for any recount in place before the election.

      For instance, in LA then, a punch card with a dimpled chad or one corner only detached was not counted, two or three corners detached was counted.

      The mess in FL was a result of trying to change the rules after the polls had closed.



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