29 June 2004


saw fahrenheit 9/11 last night, and was incredibly impressed. i mean, really incredibly. i was crying five minutes in. then laughing, then crying again. often watching with hands over my eyes or jaw dropped.

two points, one of which is poached from ben schak:

1. moore's attempt to ground the iraq invasion in conspiracies related to the "saudi connection" is interesting but ultimately unsuccessful. the saudi connection is troubling for other reasons, and for that reason i'm glad we saw so much of it. the real problem, as ben said, is that moore, like practically everyone else, is struggling mightily with something insoluble: why did bush really go into iraq? obviously, none of the reasons offered by the administration are (were ever) genuine. so we're left with three options, none of them appealing: (1) must deflect attention from our cronies the saudis! (2) that guy tried to kill my dad! (3) me think war SUPER COOL!

as i noted last night, i am no fan of psychoanalysis. but this situation is so confusing, so obtuse, that for once psychoanalysis (a.k.a. option 2) seems like the best tool for explanation. and then what? what do you do with a President who reasons that way?

2. one of the most poignant scenes from the movie illustrates for me exactly what the bush administration's goals regarding the iraq war really are: two women are conversing outside the white house. one of them is an activist. one of them is the mother of a soldier recently killed in iraq. the mother has traveled from flint, michigan to stand outside the white house. then another woman approaches her. she is expensively dressed. thin. polished. together.

expensive says to flint, "this is all a set-up."

flint says to expensive, "my son is dead."

expensive tosses back something like, "oh yeah? where did he die?" she does not believe that this woman's son is dead.

flint tells her it was in karbala. expensive is speechless for a moment. then she says, "blame it on al qaeda."

i was so filled with anger for the disbelieving woman that i could hardly contain myself. AL QAEDA??? WHAT THE FUCK??? and then i realized that this woman was exactly what the administration wanted her to be. if they had their way, we would never believe that anyone's child was dead. there were no civilian casualties. no napalm and no crushed children. furthermore, we don't show pictures of flag-draped coffins, because there aren't any. it's nobody's son -- just some poor kid from flint.