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February 10, 2004
Dude, Where’s My Country?
by Michael Moore
Academy Award winning filmmaker and author Michael Moore officially endorsed General Wesley Clark for the Democratic presidential nomination recently. But in his current best seller Dude, Where’s My Country? he suggests another candidate, “someone who is our Reagan, an already well-known figure who will lead with his or her heart and pick the right people to do the day-to-day work…Her name is Oprah.”
Recognizing that Oprah Winfrey is unlikely to run for the nomination, he briefly lays out a case for Clark, who was not a declared candidate at the time Moore was writing this book, calling him “a pro-choice, pro-environment general who believes in universal health care and who thinks war is never the first answer to a conflict.”
But the point of the book is not to present a case for a specific Democratic presidential candidate; it is more of a wakeup call, delivered humorously and passionately, to the citizens of the United States, and an indictment of the Bush administration and its wealthy benefactors.
He is not subtle: “Perhaps the biggest success in the War on Terror has been its ability to distract the nation from the Corporate War on Us. In the two years since the attacks of 9/11, American businesses have been on a punch-drunk rampage that has left millions of average Americans with their savings gone, their pensions looted, their hopes for a comfortable future for their families diminished or extinguished. The business bandits (and their government accomplices) who have wrecked our economy have tried to blame it on the terrorists, they have tried to blame it on Clinton, and they have tried to blame it on us.
“But, in fact, the wholesale destruction of our economic future is based solely on the greed of the corporate mujahadeen.”
He addresses a question that has always puzzled me, why so many average working people vote against their own self-interest by voting for Republican candidates. In addition to the side issues that the GOP uses to deflect their attention (abortion, gay rights, welfare queens, religion, fear of others), I’ve always figured there must be an element of “When I make mine, I don’t want my taxes to go up.”
Moore agrees, attributing it to the “Horatio Alger myth” that “anyone can make it in America, and make it big.” He points out that people in other industrialized democracies don’t share the myth, and that the wealthy in those countries are “very careful not to upset the balance,” noting that British CEOs make 24 times as much as their average workers, German CEOs 15, and Swedish CEOs 13 times their employees’ average wages. In the U.S., “the average CEO makes 411 times the salaries of their blue collar workers.”
Detailing some of the excesses of the last few years, he asks this question: “After fleecing the American public and destroying the American dream for most working people, how is it that, instead of being drawn and quartered and hung at dawn at the city gates, the rich got a big wet kiss from Congress in the form of a record tax break, and no one says a word?”
His answer: “I think it’s because we’re still addicted to the Horatio Alger fantasy drug…don’t attack the rich man, because one day that rich man might be me!” He then debunks the myth, giving examples to back up his contention that “the system is rigged in favor of the few, and your name is not among them,” but holding out hope that once you realize the depths of corporate depravity, you will be spurred to action.
In the chapter entitled “A Liberal Paradise,” Moore cites poll after poll showing that Americans are actually “more liberal than ever when it comes to both the lifestyles they lead and the positions they take on the great social and political issues of the day.” He says the right knows this, and thus has gotten louder, angrier and more aggressive in proclaiming the exact opposite. So he calls on his readers to “stop repeating this Big Lie,” stop worrying about labels and “get out there to claim the country that is truly ours.”
This book begins by asking seven questions of the President based on carefully documented information that has not necessarily gotten the play it deserves on the nightly news, like the longstanding relationships between the Bush family and the Saudi royals, the Bush family and the bin Ladens, and the Taliban connection with the Texas oil industry. He wonders why a private Saudi jet flew around the U. S. picking up members of the bin Laden family on the day after 9/11, when all other planes in the country were grounded, subsequently spiriting them off to Paris without being questioned by the FBI or other authorities.
It ends by issuing a call to arms to work hard to defeat George W. Bush in this year’s presidential election. It is at times funny, at times scary, at times angry. But with this book, Michael Moore continues his role as Mr. Everyman, asking the questions, uncovering the truth, and providing positive inspiration to reclaim America and “take it home.”
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