The Proud Duck
Friday, July 23, 2004
The other night on TV, I caught a debate between a conservative and a liberal talk show host. The discussion turned to the movie "Fahrenheit 9/11." Naturally, the conservative had some strong words against it.
The liberal talking head's response was to ask whether the conservative believed everything in "Fahrenheit 9/11" was untrue.
I've heard this kind of argument before. It sets an impossible and a false standard. An argument can make nine indisputably true points, tie them together with one lie, and the result will be as false and dishonest as if all ten points had been lies.
The premise of "Fahrenheit 9/11" is that the Bush administration is manipulating the war on jihadi terror for the pecuniary interests of its members and their friends, and that administration members' relationships with Saudi Arabian interests, in particular, influence foreign policy to the country's detriment.
The 9/11 commission report, released yesterday, knocked a couple of the movie's main points on the head. First, the movie's contention that the Afghanistan campaign's real purpose was to pave the way for a Unocal pipeline across the country takes a hit, in that it appears that the pipeline project was a kind of Clinton-era "vaporware." That is, it seems that the project was conceived by the State Department in 1998 as a kind of carrot to be offered to various of the fighting Afghan factions, including the Taliban, to persuade them to stop fighting. It was doubtful even at the time that the pipeline would ever be built; in fact, Unocal ultimately decided it didn't want to be involved.
Applying Occam's toothbrush, it seems to me that the most obvious reason for the Afghan campaign was that, oh, the country's government was allowing the place to be used as a base for the terrorist group that blew a big hole in New York's skyline.
The second hit "Fahrenheit 9/11" takes from the 9/11 commission report is the movie's contention that the Bush adminstration flew bin Laden family members out of the country, without allowing the FBI to interview them, during the time when flights were grounded after the attacks. In fact, they didn't fly out of the country until regular airline flights resumed (I got on a plane myself that same week, figuring an Orange County-Salt Lake City flight wasn't a likely target for anyone -- although everybody gave a wary look to the poor lone Arab businessman in first class). The FBI did have a chance to interview the people it wanted to speak with. And the decision to allow the Saudis to be flown to a central location in Tennessee (presumably to save them from the lynch mobs that Michael Moore thinks Americans naturally become, in their natural stupidity; see "Bowling for Columbine" and his comment that Americans are the stupidest people on earth) was made by Richard Clarke, of whose judgment the Left thought so highly when his testimony to the 9/11 commission was seen as reflecting poorly on President Bush. In other words, Michael Moore thinks that a decision made by a person who apparently never liked Bush all that much, somehow was influenced by Bush family connections to Saudi interests. I suppose any dots can be connected if you curve the lines enough . . . .
So while it may not be true that every word of "Fahrenheit 9/11" is false, including "and" and "the," the fact that the various accurate statements are tied together by falsehoods, renders the entire conclusion false, not to mention shallow, mean-spirited, and demagogic. To the extent any Democrat doesn't repudiate it (and John Kerry, Bill Clinton, Terry McAulliffe have all spoken favorably of the film, with only a fraction of reservation expressed if any), he shows himself no gentleman.