Controversial documentary filmmaker Michael Moore stopped in Ames last night, the mid-point on his 60-city, pre-election speaking tour. Moore was nearly two hours late, but about 5,000 people were still in the arena when he took the stage and told the crowd Iowa could well be the state that decides the persidential election. Moore said he wanted to see President Bush led out of the White House in handcuffs for waging war in Iraq.
“This is an illegal and an immoral war and we need to say it over and over and over again,” Moore said. “We have no business in Iraq. There are no weapons of mass destruction. There is no connection to 9/11. Our men and women are dying and this must be said, loudly, from the state of Iowa.”
But Moore got one of the longest standing ovations of the evening when he attacked the media for not asking tough questions of Bush and his advisors.
“Our mainstream media that was more interested in going for a ride on a tank in this desert, being embedded,” Moore said, then his voice rose in volume with each sentence until he was screaming. “(The media) disgraced our flag and our country by doing that. They should have asked the hard questions. They should have demanded the evidence. They didn’t do their job and now 1100 American soldiers are dead.”
Moore said it was time for “slackers” who’d skipped voting to turn out on November 2nd, and get their pals to vote, too. Moore invited audience members to break a few copyright laws and make copies of “Fahrenheit 9/11” for their friends, in hopes of pursuading people to vote for John Kerry. Moore himself voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, and he told the handfull of Nader supporters in the crowd not to waste a “feel good” vote on Nader this year.
“Didn’t your parents tell you when you were 14 years old that five minutes of feeling good has life-long implications?” Moore asked.
Iowa State University took some heat for having Moore speak on campus, and university officials announced late Friday that conservative author Ann Coulter would appear on campus before the election, too, on October 29th. Lewis Kishkunas, a 20-year-old junior from Glenwood who is president of the I-S-U Young Republicans, says he welcomes a good political debate, and he greeted Moore’s fans outside the arena with fliers.
“Any time you get a good political discussion going, I think it’s a good thing,” Kishkunas said. “There’s no reason to be afraid of Michael Moore coming here.
Michael Moore with his own tactics kind of defeats himself.” Neal Yearig, another young republican from Washington state, held a life-sized, cardboard cut-out of George Bush in one hand as he mixed it up, verbally, with folks waiting in line to see Moore. Later on last night, Moore singled Yearig out of the crowd as the “heckler” who travels to all his speeches, and after the band of young republicans tried to shout Moore down, Moore used a ploy from his “9/11” movie by holding up Army enlistment forms and challenging the young republicans in the crowd to enlist.