Jim O'Leary

Waverly Star

By Jim O'Leary

An e-mail newsletter for and about Waverly people, used with permission in the HLW Herald and on this web site.

July 26, 2004

I read the book and saw the movie

I am almost positive Bush will be reelected. In fact, I have bet money on it. I have asked people to pay me off in pesos because I plan to live in Mexico when it happens. Meanwhile, I will do anything in my power to see it doesn't happen.

I am even more motivated now that I have read Bill Clinton's "My Life" and seen the movie "Fahrenheit 911." Yes, Bush will win the election, but I won't be able to blame it on either Michael Moore or Bill Clinton.

I especially enjoyed the Clinton autobiography because I had lived and worked in Arkansas and even knew some of the people Clinton talked about. I learned to love the people of Arkansas just as Clinton did; the blacks and the whites, the rednecks and progressives. It's a unique and beautiful state with really genuine people.

I also enjoyed all the Minnesota references: e.g. "On December 19, I landed in a huge snowfall in Minneapolis for a reunion with Ann Markusen. . . she was as uncertain about her future, and ours, as I was. I loved her, but I was too uncertain of myself at that point in my life. . ."

What might have been! And where is she now?

Of course, he knew Minnesota's Sen. Eugene McCarthy:

"McCarthy was a fascinating man, tall, gray-haired and handsome, a Catholic intellectual with a fine mind and a biting wit." Later he would spend a pleasant morning with him when McCarthy was "in an open and expansive mood, offering a precise analysis of current events and expressing some nostalgia at leaving the Senate. I liked McCarthy more than I expected to, especially after he loaned me a pair of shoes to wear to the black-tie Women's Press Dinner."

Clinton saw the state of Minnesota as a model for how to manage public education.

When Clinton was governor of Arkansas, he praised President Bush, (the first one) for supporting the idea that parents and students should have the right to choose a public school other than the one to which they were assigned. Minnesota was the first state to adopt the proposal, and Clinton wanted the same thing for Arkansas.

Clinton thinks the Republican Party has been hijacked by the Far Right, beginning with Newt Gingrich, calling him "the enemy of normal Americans" and a "McGovernite." Clinton says, "The epithet Gingrich hurled at me was correct in some respects. . . I had worked for McGovern and I wasn't."

Clinton's book is a great read because he had read so many good books, himself. Here is a sample: "Malraux says the intellectual wants to make distinctions, to know precisely what he is fighting for. The Manichean sees things starkly in black and white, evil and good. I recognized the same thing in politics when the Far Right took over the Republican Party and Congress. They saw all issues in black and white. Politics to them was simply war by other means."

The book isn't all about Bill. For example, he includes Ted Kennedy's eulogy at Bobby Kennedy's funeral:

"My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life. He should be remembered simply as a good and decent man who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it. Those of us who loved him, and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will someday come to pass for all the world."

I don't expect many people who aren't retired, as I am, to read a book 957 pages long, but I am very glad I read it. I learned a great deal about our country as it is today, and as it could be if the struggle to form a more perfect union endures, despite the Far Right's attempt to dominate and destroy.

This is a truly great book. I read books all the time, but I haven't read a book as good as this one in a very long time. It's much better than even I had expected. Clinton's memory is awesome and the index goes on for pages.

I haven't met any Bush supporters yet, who have seen "Fahrenheit 911" but I wish they would. It might help them to understand the strong feelings of those of us have who fear the Far Right.

FOX news and Rush Limbaugh will attack Michael Moore and accuse him of not loving America. They won't be able to refute the facts he documents. It's the classic defense of attacking the messenger instead of the message and trying to shout him down.

We can't undo the past four years, and the more than $165 billion we spent killing people in a nation that posed no threat to us, but we can prod people to see this movie and educate themselves about crimes committed against us, the public.

Our president lied to us, and continues to do so. This is what will get him reelected because good people have been trained to trust their leaders. In other societies it's called "brain washing."

But the big question is: Will just liberals see this film? To dismiss the merits of the film without having seen it, is silly. Don't believe the hype. If you stick your head in the sand, the issues will still be there when you come up for air. If nothing else, go see it so you can be part of a more thoughtful debate.

I forgot, those debates are impossible these days when all you hear is shouting.

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