Book is less funny, more strident departure for Moore
Book Review by Marc Becker
Michael Moore, Dude, Where's My Country?
The allegedly “liberal” media keep assuring us that this country has taken a sharp turn to the right, but the recent success of a series of decidedly left-of-center books challenges that perception. Perhaps the most recognized of these counter-current books is Al Franken’s Lies (And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them): A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right that shot to the number one slot on the bestseller lists when Fox News attempted to sue Franken for copyright infringement for his use of the phrase “fair and balanced.” Franken later joked that the judge inadvertently gave Fox their new slogan when he dismissed the lawsuit as “wholly without merit.”
In addition to Franken’s book, Molly Ivins has recently published Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America and Jim Hightower has published Thieves In High Places: They've Stolen Our Country--And It’s Time To Take It Back. The most recent addition to this growing list of liberal bestsellers is Michael Moore’s Dude, Where’s My Country? Moore made headlines this spring when he used his acceptance speech at the Oscars for his award-winning documentary Bowling for Columbine to condemn Bush’s illegal and unjustified war on Iraq.
Moore can often be hilariously funny while attacking the political establishment from his working class/populist orientation. Perhaps given the desperate straits in which the U.S. finds itself, Dude, Where’s My Country? is less funny and more strident than some of his earlier works. It is also thought-provoking, similar to the parts in Bowling for Columbine where the audience stops laughing and is left to ponder why exactly it is that domestic homicide is much a bigger problem in the U.S. than in other countries. There are no easy, simple answers, and Moore does not pretend to give us any.
In Dude, Where’s My Country?, Moore raises more questions than he answers. At points he seems to slide toward conspiracy theories (why was bin Laden’s family allowed to leave the U.S. in the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001 while the rest of air traffic in the country was grounded?) that tend to take the focus off of a structural analysis of society. Most of his questions are good, however, and really do deserve answers. For example, how did Bush get so many people to buy into what were so obviously blatant lies about alleged ties between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, and Iraq’s phantom weapons of mass destruction. And what is it with the Christian Right’s support for Bush when he constantly lies about his past, his business relations with Enron and Harkin Oil, and the war against Iraq. His economic policies, geared to help the richest 1 percent of the population, are as damaging to them as they are to the rest of us.
Moore claims that although many people in the U.S. eschew the label “liberal” because of its negative association with “wimpy” Democratic Party leadership, there is a left-majority on key issues of health care, the environment, and civil rights. Moore claims that in traveling around the country, there is a great deal of discontent with Bush and his conservative policies. He argues that it is time to close this “Great Disconnect” between a fundamentally progressive electorate and a right-wing that has captured control over the country.
The book closes with concrete suggestions for talking to conservatives (emphasize their own selfish interests and how Republican polices do not favor them) and a plan of action for removing Bush from the White House (vote!).