Michael Moore, the overweight, unmade bed of a filmmaker who fashions himself the conscience of America, has laid down the law to Congress — adopt a public option in health-care reform or he will personally see that those who opposed it will pay the price in next year’s midterm balloting. That includes all the traitorous moderate to conservative Democrats he believes should be relieved of their party credentials for philosophical malfeasance.
According to press reports, Moore, who never saw a liberal cause he couldn’t champion, came to town to promote his latest exercise in truth-saying about capitalism just as the Senate Finance Committee was rejecting two attempts to include the creation of a public alternative to private insurance in the proposed overhaul of the health care system it will send to the full Senate. Oddly enough his threats seemed not to deter the Democratic-controlled panel one whit. Even committee chairman Max Baucus voted against the public plan, arguing that with it, the reform bill could not withstand a filibuster when it reaches the Senate floor.
“I and a lot of other people have every intention of removing you from Congress . . . if you stand in the way of health-care legislation the people want,” Moore was quoted as telling a rally here. “We will come to your districts and work against you, first in the primary, then, if we have to, in the general election. You think we’re going to go along with you just because you’re Democrats? You should think again.”
To paraphrase Little Ned Pepper’s response to a similar threat from Rooster Cogburn in the movie “True Grit,” that’s brave talk for a four-eyed fat man.
But that’s sort of the way it has been in Hollywood East the last couple of weeks with the squabble over health care becoming more intense and the chief advocate for wholesale revision, President Barack Obama, off trying to convince the rest of the world to be as miffed at Iran as we are over its nuclear ambitions while at the same time wrestling with what to do about Afghanistan. Then just when it looks as though the president finally has decided to be presidential instead of someone still campaigning for another job, maybe Chicago alderman, he announces that he plans to do something really important like join his wife, Michelle, in Copenhagen to lobby for selection of Chicago as the site of the 2016 Olympics. All politics are local, the late House Speaker, Tip O’Neil, used to say.
There is some irony in the entire Olympic business. Jimmy Carter, also a Democrat, kept the United States out of the 1980 Moscow Olympics to protest the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The only adverse impact of that was on the U. S. athletes, some that never got another shot at the competition. Now here we are in the midst of Afghanistan and another president, also a Democrat, appears personally before the International Olympic Committee, asking it to ignore our own operations in Afghanistan and select an American city for the games eight years from now. Presumably, the United States will be out of Kabul by then but for one probably shouldn’t wager too much on that prospect.
It is a good bet, however, that at some point before 2016 Michael Moore will be searching for another box office bonanza by uncovering the real truth about how a city or country wins the dubious honor of being chosen as an Olympic site, as if everyone didn’t already know. That is, of course, if Moore still isn’t busy trying to turn the Democratic Party into a one-voice entity for liberalism.
For that matter, the solons on Capitol Hill still may be engaged in the struggle over health care by that date and we still will be trying to bring about some detente in the Middle East if Iran hasn’t blown it to smithereens because the IOC didn’t pick Teheran for 2020. Perhaps had the president spent more time acting like one … but who knows?
(E-mail Dan K. Thomasson, former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service, at thomassondan(at)aol.com.)