got to repudiate, you know, the most strident and insulting anti-American
voices out there sometimes on our party's left... We can't have
our party identified by Michael Moore and Hollywood as our cultural
CEO, Democratic Leadership Council
know, let's let Hollywood and the Cannes Film Festival fawn all
over Michael Moore. We ought to make it pretty clear that he sure
doesn't speak for us when it comes to standing up for our country.
Marshall, President of the Progressive Policy Institute, the think-tank
of the DLC
FIRST THING I thought when reading these passages—both taken
from a "soul-searching" roundtable held by the Democratic Leadership
Council—was this: Who the hell is Will Marshall?
couldn't remember seeing his name at the top of anybody's ballot.
I didn't remember which, if any, elections he had ever won. I was
a little mystified, in fact, by the nature of his popular support—who
he meant, exactly, when he used the word "we" to talk about whom
Michael Moore does and does not speak for.
to the last data I could find, Moore recently made a movie that
was seen by tens of millions of people around the world and has
grossed nearly $120 million in the U.S. alone. Furthermore, it was,
according to exit polls, a much better demographic success than
the actual Democratic party. A Harris poll conducted in July found
that 89 percent of Democrats agreed with Fahrenheit 9/11,
along with 70 percent of independents. That means Moore outperformed
John Kerry among independents by about 19 points, if we are to go
just by the data presented by bum-licking power-worshipper Ron Brownstein
of the Los Angeles Times at the DLC roundtable.
revenues come from millions of ordinary people paying 10 bucks a
pop to see his film. In contrast, only about 200 people a year visit
the DLC at the box office—only they pay thousands of dollars per
ticket, and they all have names you'd recognize: Eli Lilly, Coca-Cola,
Union Carbide, Occidental Petroleum, BP and so on.
Moore, Marshall is a media figure. He is one of the chief contributors
to Blueprint magazine, the flagship publication of the DLC. Despite
the fact that subscriptions to this magazine are included free with
membership in the DLC, its annual circulation still lags slightly
behind the gate for Fahrenheit 9/11, with about 20,000 readers
unfair dig, you say: Blueprint is a trade magazine. Seen
in that light, it indeed appears a much better market performer,
with only about six times fewer readers than the industry bible
for horror makeup artists, Fangoria.
it is not exactly clear who else Marshall is talking about in this
quote, it is fairly clear that he means that Michael Moore does
not speak for him personally. Which makes sense, of course.
addition to his duties as the president of the PPI, Marshall kept
himself busy in the last few years. Among other things, he served
on the board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, an organization
co-chaired by Joe Lieberman and John McCain whose aim was to build
bipartisan support for the invasion of Iraq.
also signed, at the outset of the war, a letter issued by the Project
for the New American Century (PNAC) expressing support for the invasion.
Marshall signed a similar letter sent to President Bush put out
by the conservative Social Democrats/USA group on Feb. 25, 2003,
just before the invasion. The SD/USA letter urged Bush to commit
to "maintaining substantial U.S. military forces in Iraq for as
long as may be required to ensure a stable, representative regime
is in place and functioning."
of just a handful of Marshall's co-signatories on that letter was
Bruce Jackson, who also happens to be the head of the PNAC (whose
letter Marshall also signed) and the founder of the aforementioned
Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. Jackson is not only a neo-con
of high rank and one of the chief pom-pom wavers for the war effort.
He was also a vice president in the weapons division of Lockheed-Martin
between 1993 and 2002—meaning that he was one of the implied targets
of Bowling for Columbine, which came out in Jackson's last
year with the company.
Marshall was thinking about the good of the Democratic Party, and
not the integrity of his grimy little network of missile-humping
cronies, when he and Al From made the curious—and curiously conspicuous—decision
to denounce Moore, Hollywood and France at the DLC meeting in early
were a number of things that were strange about the release of this
obviously coordinated series of sound bites from the DLC heavies.
one thing, people like Al From, Donna Brazile and DLC president
Bruce Reed—event speakers who are all high-level political heavyweights
whose instinct for spontaneity died with their souls 100 years ago,
and would never say anything without first calculating its potential
impact—would seem to gain very little by mentioning Moore's name
at all in the conference.
say openly in front of a roomful of reporters that the party has
to disavow Michael Moore is to remind a roomful of reporters that
the Democratic party is still currently linked to Michael Moore.
This would be like George Bush Sr. using the word "wimp" in public,
or John Kerry using the word "effete" or "snob." No alert political
operative would recommend it, under normal circumstances.
as both Marshall and From surely know, there was no effort whatsoever
even this time around by the Democratic Party to associate itself
with Michael Moore. Excepting the brief and mostly unrequited love
affair between Moore and Wes Clark, most of the party candidates
recoiled from the fat director as from a diseased thing throughout
the entire campaign season. They've already kept him at arm's length—why
talk about the need to do it again? Why bring him up at all?
that's easy. It's one thing to avoid public appearances with a Michael
Moore, and to accept his support only tacitly. But it's another
thing entirely to openly denounce him as anti-American, which is
what Al From did last week.
From, Marshall and the other DLC speakers were doing last week was
not just ruminating out loud about the need to shy away from certain
demonized liberal icons. They were, instead, announcing their willingness
to embrace the other side's tactic—I hate to lean on this overused
word, but it is a McCarthyite tactic—of branding certain
individuals as traitors and anti-Americans. What they were doing
was sending up a trial balloon, to see if anyone noticed this chilling
affirmative shift in strategy and tactics.
I noticed. I also noticed that unless something is done about it,
this unelected bund of corporate pawns is once again going to end
up writing the party platform and arranging things to make sure
that no antiwar candidate is allowed to compete for votes in the
primaries. It will push one of its own—probably Harold Ickes, or
Brazile—in next year's election for the chairman of the Democratic
Party. And when that person wins, the tens of millions of Democrats
who opposed the war will have to get used to people like Will Marshall
referring to them as "we" in front of roomfuls of reporters—Marshall,
who this year wrote, in Blueprint, an article entitled "Stay
and Win in Iraq" that offered the following view of the progress
of the war:
forces still face daily attacks but the body count tilts massively
in their favor."
And Michael Moore and Hollywood are the problem with the Democratic