Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Last night, I caught a repeat showing of Bill Maher's show on HBO. Interesting stuff. The guests were Michael Moore (received a standing ovation), and Rep. David Dreir (Republican) and former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell (she's wonderful). In addition, Ralph Nader shows up!

No one needs to remind me at how smug at times Mr. Moore can get (example: "You never saw the seven minutes (of film, GW in classroom) because they don't want our leader to look like a deer in the headlights... Which is actually being unkind to deer"), though he's improving on that front. Yet I feel for him in that regard because often times a snappy reply to a semi-dumb statement or question is staring him straight in the eyes (what is even a semi-bright person to do?). When you watch Dreir aimlessly flapping his lips in a panicked, exasperated attempt to defend Bush/Cheney any way he can, you truly get a sense at how difficult the job is to defend this president and with a straight face no less. The audience is obviously majority-Dem, and Maher has to vocally keep them in line at times (jeers & cheers), yet even he can't help "his good friend" Dreir make even a marginally strong case for GW. Maher looks on at him with this feeling of resigned sorrow ("I did my best buddy!"). Several times, Dreir appears befuddled, often leaning way back in his seat for a bout of relief.

At one point, Dreir goes on the attack and attempts to corner Moore by stating "Fahren. 9-11" contains lies. After Moore asks if Dreir saw the film (he admits "no," audience jeers and laughs), Dreir then begins to describe the scene with a supposed lie, only to quickly be corrected that he has the description of the scene all wrong (uh, perhaps because he didn't see the movie!). Of course, what little credibility Dreir had left up to this point in the show is now lost.

Meanwhile, Kim Campbell offers several very cogent, lucid points, well-reasoned and beautifully delivered. Why can't we get politicians like her?! She all the more makes Dreir look like a true lightweight in our country's political circles.

Throughout the show, Moore ends up repeating an effective refrain. Maher makes the case that "flip-flopping" as directed as a criticism towards Kerry implies that if one were to ever change their mind based on experience, then that's bad (obviously absurd). "The big knock against Kerry is that he's a flip-flopper; because sometime between the ages of 18 and 60, he's changed his mind," Maher says. He goes on, "He went to Vietnam because as a young man, he thought that was the right thing to do. He saw what was going on in Vietnam, came back, threw his medals away, changed his mind. Is it wrong that a guy goes to the slaughterhouse and comes back a vegetarian? Isn't that what thinking people do?"

Maher is indirectly trying to show that what the Republicans excel at are labeling. Better to just tag a one-word label ("flip-flopper," "liberal") then to present a complex, reasoned explanation. They simply want to quickly program their voters, like one would do their Tivo. Kerry volunteers to go to war, goes, is a hero, comes back with a new view. Republicans pronounce this "flip-flopper," or at least Mr. Dreir did a very poor job at making the case otherwise (!).

Anyway, Moore peppers the latter part of the show with rhetorical questions aimed at Dreir: "if I were to become a Republican, would that be a flip-flop, i.e. a bad thing?" In fact, you never hear a peep about Sen. Zell Miller in this regard. I can't recall the last time I witnessed an opposing party office holder speaking at the other party's convention (Democrat Miller will have a prime speaking spot come the Repub. convention). Yet, not one utterance of "flip-flopper" directed at Miller -- obviously because flip-flopping is A-OK as long as you flop to their side. Recall GW ran in 2000 on a no-nation-building pledge as well as his Kyoto agreement flip-flop, to name just a few.

And then Ralph shows up! I urge a viewing of this show.

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