Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Surprised to see Michael Moore at the Republican National Convention? He was there with press credentials from USAToday. In order to give both sides a voice, they hired columnists from the opposing side to write humorous pieces during the conventions.

Mike turned in his first column. It isn't funny. It isn't even amusing. He has two points. First he says that the Republicans are not in hostile territory. I hope that the protest groups read this. Some of them wanted to shut down the city because Republicans are so foreign to NYC.

For his other point, he wandered around and asked people (not necessarily delegates) a couple of questions. From this he concluded:

Hanging out around the convention, I've encountered a number of the Republican
faithful who aren't delegates. They warm up to me when they don't find horns or
a tail. Talking to them, I discover they're like many people who call themselves
Republicans but aren't really Republicans. At least not in the radical-right way
that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft and Co. have defined

This is misleading (A Michael Moore trademark). What he really means is that they are not radical-right in the way that he has defined Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, and Co. We see this in his leading questions:

I asked one man who told me he was a "proud Republican," "Do you think we need
strong laws to protect our air and water?"

"Well, sure," he said. "Who doesn't?"

I asked whether women should have equal rights, including the same pay as men.

"Absolutely," he replied.

"Would you discriminate against someone because he or she is gay?"

"Um, no." The pause — I get that a lot when I ask this question — is usually because the average good-hearted person instantly thinks about a gay family member or friend.

There's a name for these Republicans: RINOs or Republican In Name Only. They possess a liberal, open mind and don't believe in creating a worse life for anyone else.

What Michael has done here is exaggerate the Republican's actual positions into extreme yes/no questions. I suspect that he would have gotten very different answers had he asked,

"Are you in favor of making current environmental laws much stronger and more intrusive even if there is no proven link with improved health?"

"Do you think that an outside agency should regulate wages in order to promote fairness between dissimilar jobs?" (or "Do you think that someone who has taken a couple of years off for personal reasons should get the same pay as someone who has worked continuously?"

"Are you in favor of gay marriage?"

If Michael had asked these revised questions to the people attending the DNC, he probably would have concluded that they were Democrat in Name Only.

Cute rhetorical trick isn't it?

Here's another one:

Let me also say I admire your resolve. You're true believers. Even though only a
third of the country defines itself as "Republican," you control the White
House, Congress, Supreme Court and most state governments.

The trick here is in the third sentence. 40+% of the country identifies itself as Republican. That's more than 1/3. It is also more than identify themselves as Democrat. "Control" is a loaded word, also. Around 2/3s of the state governments are Republican. Congress is around 52%-48% Republican and the Supreme Court is 5-4 conservative on many issues. That's pretty consistent with the population spread.

One might ask how the Democrats ended up controlling the White House and both houses of Congress in 1992 with fewer members that the Republicans?

His resolution:

The Republican Party's leadership knows America is not only filled with RINOs,
but most Americans are much more liberal than the delegates gathered in New
York. The Republicans know it. That's why this week we're seeing gay-loving
Rudy Giuliani, gun-hating Michael Bloomberg and abortion-rights advocate Arnold

And you think that the DNC delegates weren't more liberal than the average American?

After years of demonizing Republicans, Michael rubbed shoulders with them and found out that they are regular folks. Many people would question their long-held beliefs. Not Michael. He decided that these people aren't really Republicans.

I think that it is a measure of why the Republicans have had so much success that Mike can ask this question. Name an anti-abortion Democrat? A pro-gun one? An anti-gay one (ok, there are some anti-gay black Democrats)?

The Democrats insist on a level of ideological purity that the Republicans reject. Yes, there are Republicans who dislike all three of these speakers because of their views but they are still in the party. Can you imagine a Democrat who rejects a central party precept being a speaker at the DNC? You don't even have to imagine, just look at the speakers. The closest was Obama who implied that he was against racial quotas (time will tell if this was empty rhetoric).

Over at TechCentralStation, they predicted that the press would do exactly what Moore did - write a storyline before the convention event started.

My colleague and TCS host James K. Glassman recently highlighted two other
Laphams in a convention preview. Glassman pointed out that the establishment media will portray "Republicans like yahoos and religious fanatics." But what about those high-profile Republicans who share some establishment media values? For example, convention speakers Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani are pro-choice. And John McCain buys into green dogma on global warming and favors restrictions on political speech. For these Republicans, the media will roll out another Lapham to round out the picture. As Glassman puts it, they'll be "portrayed in the media as weird anomalies." (As if on cue, NBC's Tom Brokaw included in his Sunday broadcast the Lapham that the GOP was engaged in a "con game" by having Schwarzenegger, McCain and Giuliani speak.)

No comments: