Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Michael Moore isn't smart

This is rich:

What about instituting a universal single-payer system, something Moore advocated for in his 2007 movieSicko, through a Congress that balked at a watered-down public option? According to Moore, all it takes is courage.

"We've been lied to for so long, and it works," he said. "It's amazing to watch a lie work. Only a strong leader, only a Roosevelt could confront this."

Wait, FDR instituted single payer? Wow, what are we arguing about here? No need to do health care reform, it's all done, Roosevelt did it in 1935! What a fool. And I like the notion that all it takes is courage. I hear that that sort of courage goes well with failing to pass reform and then losing an election. Where was Michael Moore in 1994?

This line of reasoning annoys me because it's so ignorant. Roosevelt was an extremely strong leader, sure. But he took office before the advent of the cable news circus, before the partisan realignment, etc. Plus, he had 75% Democratic majorities in Congress at a time when the filibuster wasn't abused, and at a time when Republicans really were demoralized after several years of the Great Depression. And despite all this, he wasn't able to do everything in one fell swoop. Social Security and the National Recovery Act were mere shells of what Roosevelt wanted, but he was persistent and he eventually won those battles and got much of what he wanted in the end. There is a lesson for Moore to learn here, if he knew anything about politics instead of trying out to be an FDL personality (perhaps?).

This is not to sell Roosevelt's accomplishments short in any way. If you look at the country he inherited and the country (and the world) he left behind, the depth of what the man accomplished pretty staggering. He and Churchill literally saved liberal democracy in the world. But Roosevelt was, like Obama, a pragmatist and incrementalist with moderate inclinations. I have no idea how Roosevelt would fare in this sort of environment, but I suspect he would have run into many of the same troubles Obama has, because these troubles are largely not of Obama's making.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.