Michael Moore: And for the next eight months, it didn’t get any better for George W. Bush. He couldn’t get his judges appointed, he had trouble getting his legislation passed… and he lost Republican control of the Senate. His approval ratings in the polls began to sink. He was already beginning to look like a lame-duck president.
Moore then asserts that “things didn’t get any better” over the first eight months of the Bush presidency, and makes a series of false claims about those months. He claims President Bush “couldn’t get his judges appointed,” which is not true: Justice Department records show that judges nominated by Bush were getting Senate hearings and confirmations throughout the summer of 2001 (http://www.usdoj.gov/olp/confirmed107.htm).
Moore claims President Bush “had trouble getting his legislation passed,” which is true insofar as any president has some trouble with Congress, but is not true if it aims to give the impression that President Bush was not having success getting major legislation through. In the period Moore talks about, the president got his very significant across-the-board tax cut through Congress, and began to get his “No Child Left Behind” education legislation through the process (it was passed in the House before September 11, and in the Senate shortly after). In both cases, President Bush got them through almost as he had wanted them, a feat that would please any president at any time.
Moore claims Bush “lost Republican control of the Senate,” which is only true in the sense that Republicans lost control of the Senate after formerly Republican Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont (shown briefly on-screen) became an independent in early 2001.
Moore claims Bush’s “approval ratings in the polls began to sink” and shows a graph on the screen suggesting Bush’s job approval rating was 45%. This is certainly a distortion. Bush’s ratings in the first few months fluctuated up and down, as do those of most presidents in most times, but the 45% figure Moore shows was clearly an aberration. As this chart of approval ratings in various polls (http://www.hist.umn.edu/~ruggles/Approval.htm) shows, President Bush’s approval rating rose quite substantially in April (when he overcame his “trouble getting his legislation passed” and got the tax cut passed in Congress) and throughout the eight month period in question his approval rating was in the 50% to 60% range, as it had been when he took office.
Moore completes this parade of distortion by saying “he was already beginning to look like a lame-duck president” which of course is an absurd thing to suggest about a president in his first few months of office.
Moore assess Bush’s entrance into the presidency as follows:
“No President had ever witnessed such a thing on his inauguration day. And for the next eight months it didn’t get any better for George W. Bush.”
He proceeds to make the following charges:
“He couldn’t get his judges appointed;”
False. When Jim Jeffords left the Republican party, switching control of the senate, the Democrat controlled Senate stalled the confirmation (not “appointment”) of some of the judges whom Bush had nominated for the federal courts.
Despite the obstruction of some of Bush’s judicial nominees, Bush did indeed get a number of judges appointed and confirmed by Congress. This DOJ page shows the judicial confirmations that took place during the 107th Congress. Every one of these was a Bush appointee.
“He had trouble getting his legislation passed;”
Partially True. Under this narration, Moore shows a clip of an unfurling Greenpeace banner protesting drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve. However, what Moore fails to mention is that during this time period Bush got a massive tax cut passed, the Economic Growth and Tax Reform Reconciliation Act of 2001. Even if this was the only thing Bush accomplished during this time period (it wasn’t) it would show Moore’s assertion to be patently untrue.
“And he lost Republican control of the Senate;”
True, though misleading. The footage shows Senator Jim Jeffords, who defected from the GOP to become an independent who agreed to caucus with the Democrats.
Yes, Bush lost control of the senate, but Moore’s larger argument of alleged Bush failure is invalid here, considering that in the first election cycle after the defection, American voters returned control of the Senate to Republican hands, and saw Jim Jeffords making overtures to his former party to keep his committee chairmanship.
“His approval ratings in the polls began to sink;”
Misleading. Moore shows a screen displaying Bush with 53% job approval on May 3, and 45% on September 5. The screen shot includes no source for this alleged poll.
University of Minnesota History Professor Steven Ruggles has compiled a chart showing Bush’s approval ratings in 13 major polls throughout his Presidency. According the chart, never during 2001 did Bush’s approval rating fall as low as 45% in any of the polls.
As David Koppel notes: Nor did Bush’s approval ratings really “sink” after inauguration day. Bush’s popularity ratings rose significantly in April (when his tax cut was the main issue in Congress), and then returned to more normal levels in June. From Bush’s inaugural until September 10, almost all of his approval ratings were in the 50-60% range, with only a few results from an occasional poll either higher or lower.
Many of Moore’s synopses are open to factual question; we can only visit a few of them here. For example, in making the case that Bush’s first eight months in office were lackluster, Moore says: “…For the next eight months it didn’t get any better for George W. Bush. He couldn’t get his judges appointed; had trouble getting his legislation passed, and he lost Republican control of the Senate. His approval ratings in the polls began to sink.” Of these four assertions, only the third cleanly clears the hurtle:
* Six of Bush’s judges were confirmed before 9/11.
* During this time of ascribed legislative “trouble,” Bush got the top item on his agenda passed: a $1.35 trillion tax cut.
* Moore was correct about Senate control: the Democrats took control when Jim Jeffords left the Republican party. During the subsequent election cycle, however, the voters returned control to the Republicans.
* Regarding Bush’s ratings, he started office with approximately 53% approval. Bush’s ratings bounce around the 50-60 range until September of 2001, and a small decline of approximately two to three points could be seen over the course of the eight months–depending on how the running averages are calculated. Moore shows a graphic of Bush’s ratings at a low of 45% on September 5, 2001, which is an outlier–none of the 13 polls tracked by University of Minnesota history professor Steven Ruggles registered a number that low in 2001. Regarding the implication that Bush’s popularity only waned since the election, there was a palpable uptick (hitting 60) at th etime of the tax cut in April. Moore nevertheless defends his characterization of the pre-September Bush presidency and its overall loss of 2 to 3 approval points as floundering and “definitely on the ropes.” Again, Moore counts on his audience’s lack of motivation to investigate further. He’s probably right in doing so.
Another time, he says that Bush can’t get his judges appointed, as if it is his problem rather than the Democrats who have used filibusters and committees to prevent a full Senate vote in which almost all of his judges have a solid majority of support. Again, he tells just enough of a story to lead the audience to his version of reality.
Reviewers Who Fell For the Deceptions:
Moore charts Bush in office, pointing out his dwindling approval rating…
Bush’s first few months of work didn’t go too well. He lost republican control, approval ratings went down.
Fahrenheit 9/11 brings up many fascinating and inflammatory ideas about George W. Bush, his family, and the way he handled events leading up to and after 9/11. Throughout the film, Moore provides his insights based on interviews, official documents, and news reports. In his first nine months in office, Bush spent 42 percent of his time on vacation and suffered from declining approval ratings.
Moore begins the film during the news coverage of the confusion that resulted from the hotly contested 2000 U.S. Presidential Election. He Portrays Bush as nothing more than an inept hayseed much more comfortable in a ranch house than the White House, who “stole” the election thanks solely to his father’s judicial appointees. Moore then ties Bush’s flagging public opinion rating during his first months in office with the amount of time he spends vacationing on the golf course.
The movie starts hard and fast on the Presidential election and how Bush managed to “win” the election (some call it steal instead of win). All fair and square it seems but then the darker side starts to emerge. Apparently a large number of minority voters were blocked out from voting in Florida and when it was raised to the Senate, no senator wanted to support it. Bush was the president and there was no argument about it.
Then problem started to brew for Bush who took an easy way out. In Michael Moore’s words “He couldn’t get his judges appointed. He had trouble getting his legislation passed, and he lost Republican control of the Senate. His approval ratings in the polls began to sink. He was already beginning to look like a lame duck president. With everything going wrong, he did what any of us would do. He went… on vacation”
At this juncture, I thought of our own PM, Pak Lah and I could see the similarities. Didn’t he go to a goat farm and were planting vegetables at a farm when the whole nation was waiting for his answers to the questions raised by the ex-PM, Dr M?
:: E X I T L I N K S ::
My Full Collection of F9/11 Deceptions Will Be Stored Here
The Best F9/11 Debunkings can be found at:
An Old Moore-related Article That’s Worth Remembering:
Michael Moore talked about his new movie, Capitalism: A Love Story , at a Washington news conference a few days before the movie’s nationwide release.
A reporter asked him why his movies didn’t have more of an impact, citing Roger and Me as not doing much to change the auto industry and Sicko as not changing public opinion about health care.
Moore disputed the premise of the question, saying Roger and Me postponed layoffs in his hometown of Flint, Mich., and that Sicko spurred advocacy for health care reform.
He then said that his film Fahrenheit 9/11 kicked off criticism of President George W. Bush during his second term.
“It’s funny how that movie gets judged as, ‘Well, Bush got re-elected.’ That movie comes out four or five months before the election, and somehow a movie was going to change the election. I’ll tell you what it did do.
“At that point, people were afraid to speak out about the war, and about Bush. He had a high approval rating. Someone had to fire the first salvo. And that’s what I did, and I took a lot of abuse for it.”
Moore said that many liberals had supported the Iraq war and were afraid to criticize it, but that changed after his movie came out.
“From Fahrenheit on, Bush’s approval rating never was better, it only got worse,” Moore said. “Within a couple of years, after more and more millions of Americans saw the truth in that film, he could never recover.”
We wanted to check Moore’s statement about Bush poll numbers to see if they declined like Moore said they did.
To do this, we turned to the Gallup Poll, which has tracked presidential approval ratings since 1940s.
Fahrenheit 9/11 came out at the end of June 2004, when Bush’s approval rating was at 48 percent. But his approval rating climbed through the rest of the summer and hit 53 percent around Election Day in early November.
After the election, Bush’s approval peaked at 57 percent during the first week of February 2005. A year after Fahrenheit , Bush’s approval rating was about the same as when the movie came out, hovering around 47 percent.
Bush’s approval ratings started to noticeably decline about a year after his election, sliding into the low 40s and high 30s in the fall of 2005 and staying in that range for most of 2006 and 2007.
Bush’s ratings hit their all-time low in October 2008, during the financial crisis, when he had an approval rating of 25 percent.
So Moore was incorrect when he said that “Bush’s approval rating never was better, it only got worse” after the movie came out. The ratings actually increased and were pretty much the same a year after Fahrenheit . On the other hand, Moore qualifies his statement by suggesting that it took years for the film to have an impact, and indeed, Bush’s ratings did decline overall for much of his second term. So we rate Moore’s statement Barely True.