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The Boston Globe informs us this morning of a disturbing phenomenon in Germanny: the balooning of Michael Moore's popularity. In an article today about a visit made by Colin Powell to a group of high-school students, Glenn Kessler provides background on the source of German anti-Americanism:
When you want to send a message to a nation that gobbles up the anti-Bush ideas of Michael Moore, whom do you call to deliver it? Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, of course. ...
Most were two or three years old when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989; their parents had grown up under communism. Many told reporters they detested President Bush, and several said they learned a lot about foreign policy by reading Moore's books. Even those who hadn't said one of the school's music teachers manages to talk at length about Moore's condemnations of the Bush administration while kids are tuning their instruments.
Moore, a sharp-tongued filmmaker and author, has turned into something like a cult hero here, so much so that Publisher's Weekly compared his popularity to that of comedian Jerry Lewis in France. Three of his books hit the German top-10 list at the same time. His attack on Bush, "Stupid White Men," sold nearly 1.1 million copies in German -- one-third of the book's total global sales and almost double the sales in the United States. Moore's "Dude, Where's My Country?" also shot to the top of the best-seller list shortly after it was released.
What is it about ranting, idiotic, unbalanced demagogues that so fascinate the Germans? (Of course, I refer to Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin when I say this.) The Bush administration sees the calm and forceful rationality of Colin Powell as the perfect antidote to the wildly inaccurate and paranoid ravings of Moore, and if Kessler's article is accurate, it appears that they are correct. Powell explained the American position on various issues to the German students with patience and respect:
Powell, sitting on a stool in the school's gym, admitted he isn't as avid a Moore reader as the Germans. And he insisted Bush did not invade Iraq for its oil. Iraqi oil sales are being used to rebuild the country, he said. He added that the United States has to pay for oil on the open market just like every other country.
Powell's spiel to the teenagers often veered between pronouncements of policy ("We regret that Israel found it necessary to build a wall for its security . . .") and repeated references to the glories of democracy, as demonstrated in Germany and soon -- in Powell's telling -- in Afghanistan and Iraq.
While I never could understand the French fascination with Jerry Lewis, who usually grates on my nerves, at least he was entertaining in a pleasant way. Moore not only lies, but he does so in that exceptionally embarassing way that people who think they're funny have when they're not. The sheer pretentiousness of Moore and his schtick, even in his one halfway decent documentary, Roger and Me, makes spending any significant time around him or his work akin to getting your teeth cleaned by Ike Turner. It doesn't do any permanent damage, but what would make you agree to do it?Sphere It View blog reactions
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