Whatever you may think of Michael Moore’s politics and / or tactics, I don’t think anyone can deny his passion.
Since he reads it himself, that passion comes through loud and clear in the audio version of his latest book,
Mike’s Election Guide 2008.
The title sounds deadly serious, and a lot of the subject matter is, but that’s offset by much of the style being
rooted in Moore’s typical biting humor, often with tongue so firmly planted in cheek it’s practically coming out the
other side. That starts with the irony of the title, since this isn’t a literal guide to the election, but it is
certainly Moore’s attempt to guide voters and candidates.
The book begins with Moore answering "on the street" questions about voting, the 2008 candidates, and issues in
the election. Even the most ridiculous question - and there are plenty of silly sounding ones (do Democrats really
use Sippy cups? Should I show support for the troops by buying a big magnetic yellow ribbon or an American flag for
my SUV?) - has a sharp point behind it.
As anyone who’s heard of Moore would assume, this is not exactly a neutral, unbiased look at things. He’s clearly
operating from a liberal position. But don’t make the common mistake of assuming liberal means a swallower of
Democratic Party Kool-Aid. He takes plenty of shots at both parties, which is why Chapter 2 is entitled, with the
utmost sincerity, "How to Elect John McCain, or How many Democrats does it take to lose the most winnable election
in American history." Nor does having a bias necessarily mean all he says is wrong or untrue. I’ve always had
issues with some of his tactics, but while I may not swallow everything he says here at face value, he gave me a
lot of valuable food for thought—including thought about why I sometimes disagreed with him—making this
a worthwhile read for people at all points on the political spectrum. At worst, you can take advantage of his
generosity in offering to his critics in an appendix "a selection of quotes from the book to be taken out of
context" to make him look bad.
Food for thought was especially thick on the ground in my two favorite chapters, covering "7 decrees for the
[victor’s] first 7 days in office" and "6 modest proposals to fix a broken election system." One of my favorite
decrees was the idea of building wells. A better way to defeat anti-Americanism and Al Qaeda’s Pied Piper than
banning shampoo bottles on planes ("the next attack won't be with a plane... terrorists may be dumb, but they don’t
have Tourette’s... they don't like to repeat themselves") is to turn around perceptions about America now and for
future generations by building wells. No, not oil wells, but water wells, accompanied by a guarantee that by, say
the year 2020, everyone in the world will have safe sanitation and drinking water (thus very cheaply eliminating
one of the greatest causes of suffering and death in the third world.)
You may not want to be guided by Mike when facing the ballot booth November 4, 2008, but do yourself a favor and
listen to his passionate attempt to do so. The three CDs go by amazingly quickly, despite pauses for snickers and
thoughts, but you'll be thinking about what was on them for a long time after.