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Rand Paul vs. Michael Moore

Crossposted on Tikkun Daily

By Eli Zaretsky

Anyone who has failed to note the complete capitulation of American progressives to the Obama line should consider the dramatic contrast posed today on the question of the president’s “right” to assassinate American citizens. On the one hand, Rand Paul, a Republican icon, has mounted a one-man filibuster to protest the appointment of John Brennan, one of the architects of Obama’s assassination policy, as Director of the CIA. As Paul argues, the current “guidelines,” drawn up by the Obama “team,” would have allowed President Nixon to assassinate Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, Staughton Lynd, and others during the Vietnam War. Why has it taken a rightist to point out what progressives should have been screaming about for years? Where have such figures as Maddow, Dionne, Herzberg, Chait, Tomasky, Edsall, and others have been?

An answer to this question can be found by reading Michael Moore’s encomium to the film Zero Thirty Hours, which appeared recently in Huffington Post. The film is a highly sophisticated ratification of the whole set of assumptions that Americans hold regarding 9/11. As is frequently repeated in the film: we were innocents, attacked from outside, 3000 fellow citizens were killed. True, the film portrays America as using torture, but in a context that makes that usage understandable, though not necessarily wise.

Moore, however, interprets the film as a progressive fairy tale. According to him, the story the film tells is about a bad stupid man, George W. Bush, who instituted torture because he didn’t believe in intelligence, and didn’t understand why it was so important to kill Osama Bin Laden. A good, smart man, however, Barack Obama, ended torture, embraced intelligence and killed Bin Laden. Here we have a nice summation of the self-congratulatory but utterly misinformed American Left.

In fact, by any reasonable definition, torture (“extended interrogation”) was never ended, and continues to this day. Furthermore, it was Bush who ended water boarding, in 2003. Insofar as Obama changed our policy it was through the use of targeted assassinations, rather than the former policy of capturing and imprisoning suspected terrorists without trial. It is true that Bush began the process of abrogating habeas corpus, but in killing American citizens without any trial Obama has gone way beyond the previous administration, and without the shock and urgency that pervaded the Bush years. So far Obama has killed four Americans abroad. When will progressives like Moore drop their misguided view that the job of the Left is to protect every misguided step taken by Obama, and return to a critical point of view.

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