- The Washington Times - Friday, July 2, 2004

Theaters are filling up with fans of Michael Moore — a propagandist who makes Oliver Stone look like Alistair Cooke. Mr. Moore is, of course, free to say the war on terror is a clever cover story for George W. Bush’s attempt to line his own pockets. Or to suggest that as nasty as Osama bin Laden is, he is nowhere near as bad as our president.

But the reception this preposterous pastiche of lies, warmed-over conspiracy theories and free-floating venom has received from the Democratic elite as well as from the public reveals just how badly riven we are.

This is not a fact-checking column on “Fahrenheit 9/11.” For that, I recommend National Review Online or Mark Steyn (www.marksteyn.com) — though be warned that pregnant women and those with heart conditions might want to approach Mr. Steyn with caution. He is that funny (see for example his review of Bill Clinton’s book).

What should not go unnoticed however is that Michael Moore’s drivel is endorsed by leaders of the Democratic Party — indeed, by the ex officio leader of the Democratic Party, Terry McAuliffe. He attended the opening and emerged to declare the film “very powerful, much more powerful than I thought it would be.” He later told CNN, “Clearly the movie makes it clear that George Bush is not fit to be president of this country.” Other Democrats in attendance were Sens. Tom Daschle of South Dakota, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Max Baucus of Montana, Ernest Hollings of South Carolina, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Bill Nelson of Florida, and Reps. Charles Rangel of New York and Jim McDermott of Washington. As Byron York points out, all of them and John Kerry as well, should be asked by reporters if they endorse the conclusions of this movie.

Nor is Mr. Moore alone in spewing vitriol into the national debate. Many on the left seem incapable of carrying on a political discussion without descending into character assassination. One of their roadside bombs hit close to home this week. From his perch on the New York Times editorial page, Paul Krugman spins a bit of a conspiracy tale of his own. In a column titled “Who lost Iraq?” Mr. Krugman attributes the “failure” of Iraq’s reconstruction to “ideological obsession and cronyism.”

Now, let’s see, we know Saddam modeled Iraq on Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union, so what ideological obsession is Mr. Krugman referring to? It turns out that Krugman objects to capitalism. Yes, Mr. Krugman is appalled to learn Paul Bremer was intent upon “privatizing government-run factories.” Good heavens, these Bush administration people really are zealots.

Later, Mr. Krugman calls them “right-wing economic theorists.” Hello? Was Mr. Krugman asleep when we won the Cold War? Note: Free markets work; state-run economies flounder. But this news may not yet have filtered down to the New York Times.

As for cronyism, Mr. Krugman smirks, “If the occupiers often seemed oblivious to reality, one reason was that many jobs at the CPA [Coalition Provisional Authority] went to people whose qualifications seemed to lie mainly in their personal and political connections — people like Simone Ledeen, whose father, Michael Ledeen, is a prominent neoconservative.”

This is rich. I happen to know Simone Ledeen. She is an MBA who speaks three languages. Iraq was not her first idealistic mission. She had earlier lived and worked in Poland following the liberation from communism. She helped to transform what had been an underground Solidarity book publishing enterprise into a thriving, free market enterprise.

In Iraq, she signed on with the Finance Ministry to help pay Iraqi workers who were quite desperate and might turn to violence if not paid. Everything was in confusion.

They had to start from scratch and create a new currency. Each day (accompanied by the prayers of her worried mother), she donned a flak jacket and a helmet to make the trip across Baghdad. On some occasions, she ventured into remote areas to ensure Iraqi civil servants were paid.

Together with other Americans willing to sacrifice for Iraq’s future, she slept on a cot in a corridor of one of Saddam’s palaces. Later she was moved to a luxurious … trailer. For seven months, Simone worked constantly and slept little. She did these things for her country and for the cause of freedom. It runs in the family. Her brother is a Marine.

Simone is home now. Mr. Krugman might want to investigate her replacement, whose motivations were quite similar to hers. He is an analyst from Kidder-Peabody who was in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Just another right-wing nut.

Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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