“Calm down, Republicans,” said Michael Moore,
setting the tenor for sold-out Hill Auditorium.
“They’re a little ornery. They only have a few weeks
The activist and filmmaker announced that while he respects
Republicans, “Bush has got to go” and the only way for
the American people to accomplish this is to go out and vote.
The goal of the night was to reach out to college-aged students,
one of the largest underrepresented groups at the polls. Moore gave
out prizes to people who registered to vote while at the speech,
but the majority of the night was an anti-Bush rally.
Moore talked about the catchphrases of the Bush campaign:
“Top liberal, flip-flop, you’re going to die,”
chanted Moore. Moore compared the “mantra” to a bad
song that gets stuck in your head. He continued on to say that
those mantras do get stuck in your head, saying all challenger John
Kerry has is “I’m not Bush.” Moore then laughed,
“This is good enough for me.”
The Michigan Student Assembly, who paid for the event using
student funds, made a $200 profit and sold out all 3,500 seats in
Hill Auditorium, according to Jesse Levine, MSA student general
Another issue Moore discussed was the Swift Boat Veterans for
Truth ads that criticize Kerry’s Vietnam war record. He
commented on how the advertisements complained that Kerry did not
bleed, to which, after an impregnated pause, the auditorium erupted
into laughter. Moore then offered five ads as a “gift”
to the Bush campaign. The ads sported such catch lines as
“one limb left equals cowardice,” in reference to Max
Cleland — a disabled Vietnam veteran in the U.S. Senate
— and “if Kerry really loved his country, he would have
died in Vietnam … vote Bush.”
Going back to the issue of mantras, Michael Moore proposed some
possible phrases for Kerry to pull out during the debate tonight.
Some of the highlights were “Where’s Osama,”
“Two quagmires down, one to go” and “George W.
Bush, the ATM machine for the rich.”
Moore also made sure to address the issue of Kerry’s
“flip-flopping.” He did not, at first, comment on
whether Kerry has flip-flopped on the issues, but instead pointed
out the many changes in opinion of Bush’s administration on
Saddam Hussein. He laughed as he went through his version of United
States history with Saddam: first supplying him, then disliking
him, then deciding to let him be. Clinton was told to go after him,
but refused, and then Bush went to war.
Finally, addressing Kerry’s choices over the past years
directly, Moore proclaimed that Kerry should answer that he was
simply supporting the President. Moore suggests Kerry answer the
attacks with, “I believed in you. I supported you, and you
let us down.”
The atmosphere at Hill took on a more somber tone when Moore
started reading some of the e-mails he has received from soldiers
in Iraq. He explained how he has received more than 3,000 e-mails
from soldiers, and then asked, “When have we heard from
soldiers who are dissatisfied with the war?”
Following the soldiers’ letters, Moore showed clips from
“Fahrenheit 9-11,” that put a human face on the Iraqi
people. Some clips showed men and women shopping in markets. Other
clips showed children playing together at home and in the park,
flying kites and enjoying rides at a carnival. Between the letters
and the movie clips, Moore humanized the war in Iraq. Those scenes
have been criticized, notably by Sen. John McCain (R—Ariz.)
at the Republican National Convention, for portraying Iraq under
the harsh rule of Saddam as a peaceful place.
“We are hated, we are despised, we are less safe,”
Moore said, inciting cheers and applause from the audience.
“George W. Bush has made us less safe in this world.”
Moore made it clear that the war on terror, or in his words,
“the war on a noun,” is not making the world a safer
place, but serving as a training ground for more terrorists.
“You do not liberate a people with the barrel of a
gun,” Moore said.
Moore wrapped up the evening with a question and answer session.
One of the highlights came when someone asked him what he thought
of Ralph Nader. Moore calmly replied that he likes Ralph and thinks
he is a good guy, but that people did not want him to run in this
For the last question, Moore asked to hear from a Republican.
The man who responded asked what disenfranchised Republicans should
do when they do not and cannot support Kerry.
After a conversation, the man agreed that he had liberal views
on many issues, leading Moore to bring the problem down to the
issue of money; “When you have a country where everyone feels
included and is included, and has a fair and equal shot at things,
you have a better, more productive country that will make more
money for people like you.”