Fahrenheit 9/11

Moore's entertaining, emotionally-charged indictment of the Bush administration and its handling of the events of September 11, 2001, as well as the ensuing invasion of Iraq, will offer no surprises for those who have harbored suspicions about the administration's actions over the last four years (read: Moore's regular liberal audience). The film's true goal must instead be to convince those ordinary Americans who support Bush, or have let apathy keep them away from their polling place, to reconsider. Whether it will affect these people is debatable, but Fahrenheit 9/11's startling box office success (it quickly became the top-grossing nonfiction film ever made) at least shows that there is a great desire - even if much of it is from the American left - to investigate the corporate interests that influence the administration's international policy. It offers no bombshells, nothing we hadn't heard before, but it expertly consolidates all the accusations the left has lobbed over the past four years to make one solid argument that the United States is being run by oil men, more beholden to the interests of Saudi Arabian oil barons (including the bin Laden family) than to the American people.

Moore wisely keeps himself more off-camera than in his previous documentaries, cannily giving much face time to the soldiers currently serving in Iraq, as well as their families, to convince naysayers that he really is on the side of those who are actually in the trenches, reminding us that many of them don't even believe in the war that they're fighting, and who are becoming increasingly demoralized. (There is no mention of the Abu Ghraib atrocities, but it does suggest they are a result of a trickle-down immorality inherent in the war itself.) Anybody who's followed Moore's work knows that his primary interest is the working class, and Fahrenheit 9/11 ultimately posits that the real war being waged is by the American rich against the American poor - who, ironically, as victims of Republican economic policies, can only find employment in the armed forces, risking their lives for the financial interests of the elite.

It's hard to imagine anybody walking away from this film not believing that our current leaders are a bunch of grifters, but whether this sentiment will hold by election time is, I suppose, really up to the effectiveness of Bush campaign tricks designed to defame his opponent John Kerry. By now it's too late for even the cleverest Republican spin doctors to make George W. Bush look like a good president; the best they can hope for is to get those "swing voters" so distrustful of either candidate that they just don't vote at all.