Michael Moore spoke to a crowd of 4000 or so on the Wayne State University campus this afternoon. His theme: we need to defeat Bush on November 2nd. He spoke for an hour. I’m too cynical to take any political speech (even when, as with this one, it is for a cause I totally agree with) at face value; but I can say that Moore is a brilliant showman and rhetorician, superb at moving a crowd with a mix of indignation, jokes, and banter. He probably mentioned Kerry less than ten times in the entire course of the speech; which was just as well, given Kerry’s extreme lameness; but also appropriate, given that his theme was, not that Kerry is great, but that we have to vote for him anyway, because it’s the only way to get rid of Bush. The talk was not without self-aggrandizement (he made a big point of encouraging screenings of Fahrenheit 9/11, whether via DVD (it comes out next week) or — to his credit — via bootlegs. But all in all, Moore’s performance was a superb piece of propaganda (a word I am using neutrally and descriptively, not critically: we need this sort of propaganda if we are ever to put an end to Bush’s reign of terror), albeit one that was devoted to rallying the troops rather than to convincing the undecided.
Moore exhorted everyone not to believe the polls, and not to give in to pessimism. Because pessimism leads to demoralization, and thence to not bothering to vote. Though I definitely will go to my local polling place and cast an unenthusiastic vote for Kerry, I remain extremely pessimistic. Kerry still hasn’t put together any sort of effective campaign; he still doesn’t seem quite to understand what sort of vicious game the Bushies are playing. (Or maybe he does know, but is just too lame to make any sort of effective rejoinder. I guess we will see what happens in the debates, starting tomorrow). Even taking the polls with a grain of salt, it does look like Kerry is slipping badly in many of the crucial swing states, failing to mobilize support in places like Ohio, and needing to divert precious resources just to hold on to states like Michigan (where I now live), Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, which he ought to be able to take easily. The only scenario I can see in which Kerry wins is if large numbers of people who have never voted before are angry and upset enough to come out and vote for him this time. I’m not betting on it.