“The America I want to save is the America we never had,” says filmmaker Michael Moore (shown) near the end of his latest effort at left-wing political demagoguery, Fahrenheit 11/9. This pretty much sums up Moore’s two hours of assorted criticisms of not only modern America, but really America itself, since its founding.
Make no mistake — the central theme of the political documentary is that President Donald Trump is the result of a “rotten system” that produced him. As I entered the theater to watch this movie, I walked past the movie poster that tells you the three points Moore wants to make about Trump: “Tyrant. Liar. Racist,” complete with a picture of Trump playing golf on the White House lawn.
The movie’s title comes from the point at about 2:20 a.m. on November 9, 2016, when Trump was projected by the TV networks as the winner of the presidential election.
The film begins with some snippets of political commentary by assorted personalities ranging from liberal actor George Clooney to Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi ridiculing the idea that Trump has any chance whatsoever of winning the election. On election morning, The New York Times gave Trump a mere 15 percent chance of defeating Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton. Even Republican-leaning Fox News expected Trump to lose.
Then, the votes are counted, and one supporter of Clinton is shown asking, “How the f*** did this happen?”
For the next two hours, we are subjected to Moore’s “answer” to the question, but he also takes detours into such topics that do not fit into this theme — covering the Florida school shooting, the water contamination in Flint, Michigan (Moore’s hometown), and the wave of teacher strikes that began in West Virginia.
Moore posits the rather interesting theory that Trump never really had any intention of making a serious run for president. His thesis is that Trump was perturbed that Gwen Stefani made more money for The Voice than he did on The Apprentice, and he hoped NBC would see how popular he really was in what he expected to be a short campaign effort. Instead, NBC dumped him and his program after he launched his presidential campaign because of what they contended were unfair characterizations of immigrants.
This caused Trump to go ahead and pursue the presidency more seriously, Moore argues in the film. One can never be sure what Trump’s original intention was, but the fact that he had tried to get the Reform Party nomination for president in 2000 (he lost it to Pat Buchanan), long before he was a money-maker for NBC as the star of The Apprentice, would argue against Moore’s theory.
Moore blames NBC and other television networks for giving Trump so much free air time, which led to the early success of his campaign. He thinks it was because the colorful Trump campaign drew ratings at the news networks, from NBC to Fox, and he was too tempting of a cash cow. (This part of the film is actually hard to completely argue against.)
Parts of the Moore movie border on the absurd. He implies an unnatural relationship between Trump and his daughter, Ivanka. He asserts that Trump walked in on some Miss USA contestants in their dressing rooms while they were naked. He argued that Trump committed “treason on world-wide TV” when he said favorable things about Russian President Vladimir Putin during their joint press conference. (Fortunately, the Constitution narrowly defines treason, but this doesn’t stop the charge from being thrown about irresponsibly in what passes for modern political discourse.)
Moore makes the usual lame argument that the Electoral College was written to appease the slave states, which would have been news to the Constitution’s framers, especially slavery opponent Alexander Hamilton, who called the creation of the Electoral College “excellent.”
Part of the blame for the rise of Trump, Moore argues, is on Bill Clinton — who himself called for making America great again back in 1992 — because Clinton acted “like a Republican.” As did Hillary, Moore charges. Most surprisingly, Moore even blames Barack Obama for being too compromising with the Republicans.
One assertion in particular that needs to be challenged was Moore’s statement that Trump ran to the left of Hillary and Obama on foreign policy. Moore said that liberals cheered Trump’s bombing of Syria, joining the “conservatives.” Actually, it is neoconservatives who favor an interventionist foreign policy, while the traditional conservative policy was and continues to be noninterventionism.
Perhaps the most disgusting piece of demagoguery in the film is Moore showing old footage of Adolf Hitler making a political speech, but with the voice of Donald Trump, not that of the Nazi dictator. Amazingly, Tim Snyder, a professor of history at Yale, actually appeared to defend this comparison of Trump with Hitler, a man who had millions of human beings’ lives snuffed out in death camps.
But such over-the-top comparisons are pretty much par for the course in a Moore film. One only needs to cite the ridicule of famed Hollywood actor Charlton Heston, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, in his Bowling for Columbine.
If you have some spare time and a few extra dollars to throw away, go ahead and check out Moore's latest “documentary.” If not, skip this one, and find something else to spend your time and money on.
Photo of Michael Moore: AP Images