There was no doubt about
it. The message from Iowa tonight was simple, but deafening:
If you're a candidate for
President, and you voted for the war, you lose. And if you voted and voted and voted for the war -- and never once showed
any remorse -- you really lose.
In short, if you had something
to do with keeping us in this war for four-plus years, you are not allowed to be the next president of the United States.
Over 70% of Iowan Democrats voted for candidates who either never voted for the invasion of Iraq (Obama, Richardson,
Kucinich) or who have since admitted their mistake (Edwards, Biden, Dodd). I can't tell you how bad I feel for Senator Clinton tonight. I
don't believe she was ever really for this war. But she did -- and continued to do -- what she thought was the politically
expedient thing to eventually get elected. And she was wrong. And tonight she must go to sleep wondering what would have happened
if she had voted her conscience instead of her calculator.
John Edwards was supposed to have come in third. He had been written off. He was outspent by
the other front-runners six to one. But somewhere
along the road he threw off the old politico hack jacket and turned into a real person, a fighter for the poor, for the uninsured,
for peace. And for that, he came in a surprise second, ending up with just one
less delegate than the man who was against the war from the beginning. But, as Joshua Holland of AlterNet pointed out earlier
today, Edwards is still the only front-runner who
will pull out all the troops and do it as quickly as possible. His speech tonight was brilliant and moving.
What an amazing night, not
just for Barack Obama, but for America. I know that Senator Obama is so much more than simply the color
of his skin, but all of us must acknowledge -- and celebrate -- the fact that one of the whitest states in the U.S. just voted for a black man to be our next president. Thank you, Iowa, for this historic moment. Thank you for at least letting us
believe that we are better than what we often seem to be. And to have so many young people come out and vote -- and vote for
Obama -- this is a proud moment. It all began with the record youth turnout in 2004 -- the ONLY age group that Kerry won --
and they came back out tonight en force. Good on every single one of you!
As the only top candidate
who was anti-war before the war began, Barack Obama became the vessel through which the
people of this Midwestern state were able to say loud and clear: "Bring 'Em Home!" Most pundits won't read the election this
way because, well, most pundits merrily led us down the path to war. For them to call this vote tonight a repudiation of the
war -- and of Senator Clinton's four years' worth of votes for it -- might require the pundit
class to remind their viewers and readers that they share some culpability in starting this war. And, like Hillary, damn few
of them have offered us an apology.
With all due respect to Senator Obama's victory, the most important news out of the caucus this evening was the whopping,
room-busting turnout of Democrats. 239,000 people showed up to vote Democratic
tonight (93% more than in '04, which was a record year), while only 115,000 showed
up to vote Republican. And this is a red state! The Republican caucuses looked anemic. The looks on their faces were glum,
tired. As the camera followed some of them into their caucus sites, they held their heads down or turned away, sorta like
criminals on a perp walk. They know their days of power are over. They know their guy blew it. Their only hope was to vote
for a man who has a direct line to heaven. Huckabee is their Hail Mary pass. But don't rule him out. He's got a sense of humor,
he's down home, and he said that if elected, he'd put me on a boat to Cuba. Hey, a free Caribbean vacation!
Bottom line: People have
had it. Iowa will go blue (Happy Blue Year, Hawkeyes!). Whomever your candidate
is on the Dem side, this was a good night. Get some sleep. The Republicans won't go down without a fight. Look what happened
when Kerry tried to play nice. So Barack, you can talk all you want about "let's put the partisanship aside, let's all get
along," but the other side has no intention of being anything but the bullies they are. Get your game face on now. And, if
you can, tell me why you are now the second largest recipient of health industry payola after Hillary. You now take more money
from the people committed to stopping universal health care than any of the Republican candidates.
Despite what your answer
may be, I was proud to sit in my living room tonight and see you and your family up on that stage. We became a bit better
tonight, and on that I will close by saying, sweet dreams -- and on to that other totally white state of New Hampshire!
Michael Moore on the Candidates
A new year has begun. And
before we've had a chance to break our New Year's resolutions, we find ourselves with a little more than 24 hours before the
good people of Iowa tell us whom they would like to replace the man who now occupies three countries
and a white house.
Twice before, we have begun
the process to stop this man, and twice we have failed. Eight years of our lives as Americans will have been lost, the world
left in upheaval against us... and yet now, today, we hope against hope that our moment has finally arrived, that the amazingly
powerful force of the Republican Party will somehow be halted. But we know that the Democrats are experts at snatching defeat
from the jaws of victory, and if there's a way to blow this election, they will find it and do it with gusto.
Do you feel the same as me?
That the Democratic front-runners are a less-than-stellar group of candidates, and that none of them are the "slam dunk" we
wish they were? Of course, there are wonderful things about each of them. Any one of them would be infinitely better than
what we have now. Personally, Congressman Kucinich, more than any other candidate, shares the
same positions that I have on the issues (although the UFO that picked ME up would only take me as far as Kalamazoo). But let's not waste time talking about Dennis. Even he is resigned
to losing, with statements like the one he made yesterday to his supporters in Iowa to throw their support to Senator Obama as their
So, it's Hillary, Obama,
Edwards -- now what do we do?
Two months ago, Rolling Stone
magazine asked me to do a cover story where I would ask the hard questions that no one was asking in one-on-one interviews
with Senators Clinton, Obama and Edwards. "The Top Democrats Face Off with Michael Moore." The
deal was that all three candidates had to agree to let me interview them or there was no story. Obama and Edwards agreed.
Mrs. Clinton said no, and the cover story was thus killed.
Why would the love of my
life, Hillary Clinton, not sit down to talk with me? What was she afraid of?
Those of you who are longtime
readers of mine may remember that 11 years ago I wrote a chapter (in my first book) entitled, "My Forbidden Love for Hillary."
I was fed up with the treatment she was getting, most of it boringly sexist, and I thought somebody should stand up for her.
I later met her and she thanked me for referring to her as "one hot s***kicking feminist babe." I supported and contributed
to her run for the U.S. Senate. I think she is a decent and smart person who loves this country,
cares deeply about kids, and has put up with more crap than anyone I know of (other than me) from the Crazy Right. Her inauguration
would be a thrilling sight, ending 218 years of white male rule in a country where 51% of its citizens are female and 64%
are either female or people of color.
And yet, I am sad to say,
nothing has disappointed me more than the disastrous, premeditated vote by Senator Hillary Clinton
to send us to war in Iraq. I'm not only talking about her first vote that gave Mr. Bush
his "authorization" to invade -- I'm talking about every single OTHER vote she then cast for the next four years, backing
and funding Bush's illegal war, and doing so with verve. She never met a request from the White House for war authorization
that she didn't like. Unlike the Kerrys and the Bidens who initially voted for authorization but later came to realize the
folly of their decision, Mrs. Clinton continued to cast numerous votes for the war until last March -- four long years of
pro-war votes, even after 70% of the American public had turned against the war. She has steadfastly refused to say that she
was wrong about any of this, and she will not apologize for her culpability in America's worst-ever foreign policy disaster. All she can bring herself to say is that
she was "misled" by "faulty intelligence."
Let's assume that's true.
Do you want a President who is so easily misled? I wasn't "misled," and millions of others who took to the streets in February
of 2003 weren't "misled" either. It was simply amazing that we knew the war was wrong when none of us had been briefed by
the CIA, none of us were national security experts, and none of us had gone on a weapons inspection tour of Iraq. And yet... we knew we were being lied to! Let me ask those of
you reading this letter: Were YOU "misled" -- or did you figure it out sometime between October of 2002 and March of 2007
that George W. Bush was up to something rotten? Twenty-three other senators were smart enough
to figure it out and vote against the war from the get-go. Why wasn't Senator Clinton?
I have a theory: Hillary
knows the sexist country we still live in and that one of the reasons the public, in the past, would never consider a woman
as president is because she would also be commander in chief. The majority of Americans were concerned that a woman would
not be as likely to go to war as a man (horror of horrors!). So, in order to placate that mindset, perhaps she believed she
had to be as "tough" as a man, she had to be willing to push The Button if necessary, and give the generals whatever they
wanted. If this is, in fact, what has motivated her pro-war votes, then this would truly make her a scary first-term president.
If the U.S. is faced with some unforeseen threat in her first years, she
knows that in order to get re-elected she'd better be ready to go all Maggie Thatcher on whoever sneezes in our direction.
Do we want to risk this, hoping the world makes it in one piece to her second term?
I have not even touched on
her other numerous -- and horrendous -- votes in the Senate, especially those that have made the middle class suffer even
more (she voted for Bush's first bankruptcy bill, and she is now the leading recipient of payoff money -- I mean campaign
contributions -- from the health care industry). I know a lot of you want to see her elected, and there is a very good chance
that will happen. There will be plenty of time to vote for her in the general election if all the pollsters are correct. But
in the primaries and caucuses, isn't this the time to vote for the person who most reflects the values and politics you hold
dear? Can you, in good conscience, vote for someone who so energetically voted over and over and over again for the war in
Iraq? Please give this serious consideration.
Now, on to the two candidates
who did agree to do the interview with me...
Obama is a good and inspiring man. What a
breath of fresh air! There's no doubting his sincerity or his commitment to trying to straighten things out in this country.
But who is he? I mean, other than a guy who gives a great speech? How much do any of us really know about him? I know he was
against the war. How do I know that? He gave a speech before the war started. But since he joined the senate, he has voted
for the funds for the war, while at the same time saying we should get out. He says he's for the little guy, but then he votes
for a corporate-backed bill to make it harder for the little guy to file a class action suit when his kid swallows lead paint
from a Chinese-made toy. In fact, Obama doesn't think Wall Street is a bad place. He wants the
insurance companies to help us develop a new health care plan -- the same companies who have created the mess in the first
place. He's such a feel-good kinda guy, I get the sense that, if elected, the Republicans will eat him for breakfast. He won't
even have time to make a good speech about it.
But this may be a bit harsh.
Senator Obama has a big heart, and that heart is in the right place. Is he electable? Will more
than 50% of America vote for him? We'd like to believe they would. We'd like to believe
America has changed, wouldn't we? Obama lets us feel better about ourselves
-- and as we look out the window at the guy snowplowing his driveway across the street, we want to believe he's changed, too.
But are we dreaming?
And then there's John
It's hard to get past the
hair, isn't it? But once you do -- and recently I have chosen to try -- you find a man who is out to take on the wealthy and
powerful who have made life so miserable for so many. A candidate who says things like this: "I absolutely believe to my soul
that this corporate greed and corporate power has an ironclad hold on our democracy." Whoa. We haven't heard anyone talk like
that in a while, at least not anyone who is near the top of the polls. I suspect this is why Edwards is doing so well in Iowa, even though he has nowhere near the stash of cash the other
two have. He won't take the big checks from the corporate PACs, and he is alone among the top three candidates in agreeing
to limit his spending and be publicly funded. He has said, point-blank, that he's going after the drug companies and the oil
companies and anyone else who is messing with the American worker. The media clearly find him to be a threat, probably because
he will go after their monopolistic power, too. This is Roosevelt/Truman kind of talk. That's why it's resonating with people
in Iowa, even though he doesn't get the attention Obama and Hillary get
-- and that lack of coverage may cost him the first place spot tomorrow night. After all, he is one of those white guys who's
been running things for far too long.
And he voted for the war.
But unlike Senator Clinton, he has stated quite forcefully that he was wrong. And he has remorse.
Should he be forgiven? Did he learn his lesson? Like Hillary and Obama, he refused to promise in a September debate that there
will be no U.S. troops in Iraq by the end of his first term in 2013. But this week in Iowa, he changed his mind. He went further than Clinton and Obama and said he'd have
all the troops home in less than a year.
Edwards is the only one of
the three front-runners who has a universal health care plan that will lead to the single-payer kind all other civilized countries
have. His plan doesn't go as fast as I would like, but he is the only one who has correctly pointed out that the health insurance
companies are the enemy and should not have a seat at the table.
I am not endorsing anyone
at this point. This is simply how I feel in the first week of the process to replace George W. Bush.
For months I've been wanting to ask the question, "Where are you, Al Gore?" You can only polish
that Oscar for so long. And the Nobel was decided by Scandinavians! I don't blame you for not wanting to enter the viper pit
again after you already won. But getting us to change out our incandescent light bulbs for some irritating fluorescent ones
isn't going to save the world. All it's going to do is make us more agitated and jumpy and feeling like once we get home we
haven't really left the office.
On second thought, would
you even be willing to utter the words, "I absolutely believe to my soul that this corporate greed and corporate power has
an ironclad hold on our democracy?" 'Cause the candidate who understands that, and who sees it as the root of all evil --
including the root of global warming -- is the President who may lead us to a place of sanity, justice and peace.
Moore (not an Iowa voter, but appreciative of any state that has a town named after