Moore advises selling the sizzle not the steak.

Katrina vanden Heuvel talks with Michael Moore and we learn that Moore thinks it’s okay to have a smooth spokesperson. Moore never gets around to examining what the would-be Democratic Party front is saying—what policies are being sold here—it’s all about image. So, to try to make his friends look better, Moore holds the bar low (an insulting prospect if one thinks about it from the perspective of the voter—how intelligent do these people think voters are if they mainly talk about who should make the pitch?):

Or Obama? What got me thinking about Obama was at one of my holiday gatherings, a relative who’s never said the words civil rights, if you know what I mean, suddenly said ‘I liked the story Obama told.’

Maybe if Obama told the part of the story where he votes to bomb Iran, Moore’s cousin wouldn’t have been so complimentary because bomb runs aren’t cheap and people like it when their families get to live.

What was Kerry’s story? (Several people shout from various tables–“I’m better than a Bush, I’m not an asshole.’) Yea, that was about it. So we got 57 million votes on a tagline–and not a very good one. Amazing we did as well as we did. We shouldn’t feel defeated. Bush doesn’t have a mandate. Seventy million people didn’t even vote and they’re the poor and the working class and we should spend the next four years giving them reason to vote next time. […]

Kerry’s story was just like Bush’s where it counted: two Bonesmen who very much like the authority to supersede or not bother consulting with Congress in order to start war, and neither of them have any real connection to poverty or a compelling vision of health care for the US because they’re both so busy taking corporate campaign cash. It’s not that hard to see why so many registered voters chose to divorce themselves from the process instead of sending Bush or Kerry the message that their policies were worth a damn.

This election was Kerry’s to lose and he did a fine job of it. After an early concession, he still couldn’t find the time to do the right thing and challenge the election results in a key state. Reminds one of how Lieberman treated the Congressional Black Caucus letter (which questioned the Florida vote) after the 2000 election.

Think back to Roosevelt. He had the Capras, Sturges, Steinbecks and they moved millions, the nation, with their art. That brought popular support to a radical agenda. Don’t need to make polemical documentaries.

The point of the documentary was to get Bush out of power and that didn’t happen in large part because the man Moore backed was too weak to stand up for his own ostensible run for office (yet another reason why I remain convinced that the Democrats are there to “good cop” the country into corporate hands).

There’s nothing wrong with running someone who is our Arnold. It doesn’t need to be a professional actor. Let’s start looking for our Arnold, and stop listening to pundits who say Americans hate Hollywood.

No, what the Democrats need is a set of policies that will resonate with the public and convince them that you’re not a bunch of go-along-to-get-along doormats. Here’s a start:

  • Drop the corporate campaign funding. Since you’re so convinced your messages resonate with the people (how many times has Moore said what he stands for are majoritarian values?) then get your money from the people and show up the Republicans.
  • Drop the TV debate lock-out strategy. This is a huge issue because it’s impossible to take Democrats seriously when we know the “debates” are really staged PR events. Take competition seriously and squarely by allowing competitive parties and independent campaigns to get on the debates (drop the ridiculously high entry level criteria, purposefully set high so there is plausible deniability). But the Democrats are too much in cahoots with the Republicans to let any other party or independant campaign put real issues on the table and make Democrats talk about things without scripts or previewed questions read by audience members from cue cards.
  • Stand for nothing less than universal single-payer health care. Your country deserves no less. Do you realize that European countries gave themselves universal health care coming out of a world war? But no, the country that can apparently afford to waste billions in a war based on lies (which Moore implicitly buys into by supporting Kerry and voting for Kerry even though New York is a “safe” state), can’t deliver that to ourselves.
  • Stop treating your most progressive candidates like crap. Dennis Kucinich was dismissed out of hand by Michael Moore in his talks (broadcast by Democracy Now!, I’ll see if I can dig up links from In fact, in one of the talks Moore admitted he had no problem with Kucinich. Then he went on to endorse an apparently less-than-competant General and Kerry. Hardly anyone stood up for Kucinich when Kucinich got a third of the time Howard Dean got at the CNN so-called “debate” between 9 (nine) Democrats (so don’t tell me there would be too many candidates to have a real debate involving more than Democrats and Republicans). Sure, Kucinich ultimately realized where his bread is buttered and folded stumping for Kerry and swallowing a weak official Democratic Party message on the war. But for a while there during the primary, he was speaking truth to power with a sensible health care plan, and the Democratic Party wasn’t too keen on talking with him.

You’ve already got the lock-out TV strategy going (where you keep all the other competition out), people already know the name “Democrat” and some will vote straight-ticket Democrat regardless of your record. Ah, perhaps that is why this plan will never take hold, no matter how many times you lose.

Maybe I should just feel lucky that people like Ralph Nader still run campaigns, even losing campaigns, against the national Democratic Party by raising all the issues the Democrats won’t. He’s showing the Democrats up and showing the US what a real progressive acts like. He was right, you know, no Democrat would have considered changing anything if they had won. Losers revisit strategy and message, winners figure they can’t afford to change.

During the Q&A session after Moore’s speech, he had these pearls of wisdom to offer:

Q: Who’s our Arnold?
MM: Well, ask Caroline Kennedy. And who wouldn’t vote for Tom Hanks? We need someone who’s beloved and trusted by American people. May seem facetious but it’s true.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that Hanks would either not run for office at all (a wise choice since he has no material political background of any kind elective or not, something for which he will be appropriately skewered if he runs for US President; at least Nader had done more things for this country than any US President in living memory), or that he would run as a Republican because he’s richer than Croesus so he’s more amenable to a tax plan that lets him keep most of the money he has (oh, wait, that wouldn’t really differentiate the parties enough, would it?).

Forgive me. He could run as a Democrat. And lose.

Moore last endorsed General Wesley Clark who entered the Democratic Party primary race late, failed to dazzle at debates, and never really gained much steam with the public ultimately losing to pro-war/pro-NAFTA/pro-war resolution/anti-gay marriage Kerry. Perhaps Moore is not the person to ask for good advice on who the Democrats should run. Or do we need to remind ourselves of when Moore said Oprah should run for President?

I still think Democrats won’t vote for a woman, regardless of how well-qualified she may be (and I’m not saying Caroline Kennedy or the much-buzzed favorite Hillary Clinton would be well-qualified, I’d have to learn more about their records before I can offer that opinion).

Q: What about Hillary? John Edwards?
MM: Well, she’s a star. Edwards is not a star. And nothing wrong with discussing Obama. Sure, they’re people who say ‘well, he can’t win.’ I’m not so sure. Americans are not so closeminded. Give Americans some credit for rising above their own personal prejudice and bigotry. Democrats become weak-kneed so easily. Be proud of who you are—have the courage of your convictions. Why are we still listening to 200 members of the DLC. They’re Republicans posing as Democrats.

Edwards is not a “star” (whatever that means) because he lost. Are the Democrats so easily disenchanted while they try in vain to rerun the 2000 election? Shall we look forward to another stiff-as-a-board candidate for US President from the Democrats (and, yes, I believe lazy-minded perceptions like that carry weight with an audience that largely doesn’t know anyone’s record and has little intellectual curiosity to learn voting records)?

There is something wrong with discussing Obama for US President, even from the know-nothing perspective offered by Moore: Obama has done so little of national import he’s an unknown quantity to most Democrats. Now that the second Bush II administration is a lock, we’ll get to see how Obama handles himself when war with Iran comes around, something he told the Chicago Tribune he could see himself voting for.

Q: What’s the one-liner for Dems?
MM: Hmmm. Maybe, ‘We’re Going to Kick some Ass.’

Warmongering is not attractive in a candidate or in someone stumping for a party. How sad to see that Moore can’t even fall much in line with his former criticisms of the Democrats (which we only get a faint whiff of in this talk and Q&A).

Q: Tomorrow, the vote will be certified. You had that extraordinary scene in Fahrenheit from 2001 showing members of the House being gaveled down, out of order, with not a single Senator rising in support. What do you expect tomorrow?
MM: I’m hoping that one Senator will join with John Conyers–just to investigate the vote so we stop this from ever happening again and send a strong message to some of these hack Secretaries of State.

One Senator is too low to convince any thinking person that the Democrats care about voting rights. One Senator is going to send the same message as was sent in 2000—don’t bother challenging anything, we’re just here to follow in the direction the Republicans want to lead because we’re really after the same audience they are: corporations.