Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Back to Kopel... here's part one (Deceits 1-2) of my take on his 59 Deceits in Fahrenheit 9/11.

Deceits 3-7

...Michael Moore shows a clip of CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin saying that if ballots had been recounted in Florida after the 2000 presidential vote, "under every scenario Gore won the election."

What Moore doesn’t show is that a six-month study in 2001 by news organizations including The New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN found just the opposite. Even if the Supreme Court had not stopped a statewide recount, or if a more limited recount of four heavily Democratic counties had taken place, Bush still would have won Florida and the election.

Actually, both Toobin and Kopel are wrong.

This is still the most illuminating example of the current partisan atmosphere. The results of the big follow-up vote recount was very, very clear:

If the votes had been recounted using the limited methods advocated by Gore, Bush still wins.

If the votes had been recounted using the Bush method (i.e. not), Bush of course wins.

If all the votes had been recounted, using any method (individual standards in each county, or uniform standards in all counties), Gore wins.

The Dems can't admit they botched the post-election fight. The Pubs can't admit their boy didn't actually win. Both sides look like losers, if Big Media would only tell the truth.

According to Fahrenheit, Bush cronies hired Data Base Technologies to purge Florida voters who might vote for Gore, and these potential voters were purged from the voting rolls on the basis of race. ("Second, make sure the chairman of your campaign is also the vote count woman. And that her state has hired a company that's gonna knock voters off the rolls who aren't likely to vote for you. You can usually tell 'em by the color of their skin.") As explained by the Palm Beach Post, Moore's claim is extremely incomplete, and on at least one fact, plainly false.


Regardless, Moore's claim that the purge was conducted on the basis of race was indisputably false.

Oh please. Moore's claim? It's called snark. Black voters were disproportionately stricken from the rolls, and black voters are more likely to vote Dem. Period.

The Florida election was an absolute mess of conflict of interest and probably fraud. Kopel's speculation that "the net result of the 2000 purge fiasco harmed Bush" is frankly laughable, relying as it does on John Lott's dancing rate stats, and not the raw numbers of disenfranchised voters.

Number five I'll reprint in its entirety:

The movie lauds an anti-Bush riot that took place in Washington, D.C., on the day of Bush’s inauguration. Moore continues: "No President had ever witnessed such a thing on his inauguration day. And for the next eight months it didn’t get any better for George W. Bush. He couldn’t get his judges appointed; he had trouble getting his legislation passed; and he lost Republican control of the Senate. His approval ratings in the polls began to sink."

Part of this is true. Once Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords left the Republican party, Democrats controlled the Senate, and stalled the confirmation (not "appointment") of some of the judges whom Bush had nominated for the federal courts.

Congress did enact the top item on Bush’s agenda: a large tax cut. During the summer, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives easily passed many of Bush’s other agenda items, including the bill whose numbering reflected the President’s top priority: H.R. 1, the Bush "No Child Left Behind" education bill. The fate of the Bush bills in the Democratic-controlled Senate, as of August 2001, was uncertain. The Senate later did pass No Child Left Behind, but some other Bush proposals did not pass.

Umm, where's the deceit? Which part is untrue? Were judicial confirmations held up? Kopel says yes. Did Bush have trouble getting legislation passed? Kopel admits bills were stalled in the Senate. Did the Pubs lose control of the Senate? Kopel says yes. Did Bush's approval ratings sink? This will come up later, but for now Kopel offers no denial.

Where's the deceit?

Fahrenheit 911 states, "In his first eight months in office before September 11th, George W. Bush was on vacation, according to the Washington Post, forty-two percent of the time."

Shortly before 9/11, the Post calculated that Bush had spent 42 percent of his presidency at vacation spots or en route, including all or part of 54 days at his ranch. That calculation, however, includes weekends, which Moore failed to mention. -- Tom McNamee, Just the facts on ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’, Chicago Sun-Times, June 28, 2004.

'Cause Presidents don't work on weekends...? Do they get overtime pay if they do? This is pathetic.

[T]he shot of him "relaxing at Camp David" shows him side by side with Tony Blair. I say "shows," even though this photograph is on-screen so briefly that if you sneeze or blink, you won’t recognize the other figure. A meeting with the prime minister of the United Kingdom, or at least with this prime minister, is not a goof-off.

The president is also captured in a well-worn TV news clip, on a golf course, making a boilerplate response to a question on terrorism and then asking the reporters to watch his drive. Well, that’s what you get if you catch the president on a golf course. -- Christopher Hitchens, Unfairenheit 9/11: The lies of Michael Moore, Slate.com, June 21, 2004.

Hitch! My favorite misanthrope! First off, Hitch, a working vacation still counts as a vacation, and the picture in question shows Bush and Blair walking one of Bush's little canine friends. The weather is cold -- both are bundled up, but not too much. I'd guess it's early spring, given the weather at Camp David and the foliage visible. I got all that from the first time I saw the movie. Gee, I must be the reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes, given the brief millisecond Hitch says it appears on-screen.

(Just Googled the meeting... I was off a bit, it happened in late February. Oh well, no deearstalker hat for me.)

As for the golf course bit, maybe it is unfair, showing Bush being so smug and arrogant immediately after speaking seriously about terrorism, looking like he cares more about his stroke. Maybe if he showed up for work once in a while reporters wouldn't have to track him down on a golf course in the first place. Shucks. Incidentally, did you notice how Bush re-jiggers his backswing after the fact to make for a better pose for the photographers?

By the way, the clip of Bush making a comment about terrorism, and then hitting a golf ball, is also taken out of context, at least partially:

Tuesday night on FNC’s Special Report with Brit Hume, Brian Wilson noted how "the viewer is left with the misleading impression Mr. Bush is talking about al-Qaeda terrorists." But Wilson disclosed that "a check of the raw tape reveals the President is talking about an attack against Israel, carried out by a Palestinian suicide bomber." -- "Cyberalert," Media Research Center, July 1, 2004, item. 3.

Really? It's clear the footage was taken before 9/11, and Moore more than once in the film makes the explicit point that Bush, Ashcroft etc. weren't paying enough attention to al Qaeda. Why would 'the viewer' think the quote is about al Qaeda? And why did Hitch miss this among F9/11's 'contradictions', if it's such an obvious deceit?

Maybe Kopel and Hitch should compare notes before going any further with this nonsense.

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