Fahrenheit 9/11 Deceits
Fahrenheit 9/11 states, "In his first eight months in office before September 11th, George W. Bush was on vacation, according to the Washington Post, forty-two percent of the time."
Shortly before 9/11, the Post calculated that Bush had spent 42 percent of his presidency at vacation spots or en route, including all or part of 54 days at his ranch. That calculation, however, includes weekends, which Moore failed to mention.
Tom McNamee, "Just the facts on ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ Chicago Sun-Times, June 28, 2004. See also: Mike Allen, "White House On the Range. Bush Retreats to Ranch for ‘Working Vacation’," Washington Post, August 7, 2001 Many of those days are weekends, and the Camp David stays have included working visits with foreign leaders. Since the Eisenhower administration, Presidents have usually spent many weekends at Camp David, which is fully equipped for Presidential work. Once the Camp David time is excluded, Bush's "vacation" time drops to 13 percent.
Much of that 13 percent was spent on Bush's ranch in Texas. Reader Scott Marquardt looked into a random week of Bush's August 2001 "vacation." Using public documents from www.whitehouse.gov, here is what he found:
Monday, August 20
Spoke concerning the budget while visiting a high school in Independence, Missouri.
Spoke at the annual Veteran's of Foreign Wars convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Signed six bills into law.
Spoke with workers at the Harley Davidson factory.
Dined with Kansas Governor Bill Graves, discussing politics.
Tuesday, August 21
Took press questions at a Target store in Kansas City, Missouri.
Spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien on the matter of free trade and tariffs on Canadian lumber.
Wednesday, August 22
Met with Karen Hughes, Condi Rice, and Josh Bolten, and other staff (more than one meeting).
Conferenced with Mexico's president for about 20 minutes on the phone. They discussed Argentina's economy and the International Monetary fund's role in bringing sustainability to the region. They also talked about immigration and Fox's planned trip to Washington.
Communicated with Margaret LaMontagne, who was heading up a series of immigration policy meetings.
Released the Mid-Session Review, a summary of the economic outlook for the next decade, as well as of the contemporary economy and budget.
Issued a Presidential Determination ordering a military drawdown for Tunisia.
Issued a statement regarding the retirement of Jesse Helms.
Thursday, August 23
Briefly spoke with the press.
Visited Crawford Elementary School, fielded questions from students.
Friday, August 24
Met with Andy Card and Karen Hughes, talking about communications issues.
Issued a proclamation honoring Women's Equality Day.
Saturday, August 25
Awoke at 5:45 AM, read daily briefs.
Had an hour-long CIA and national security briefing at 7:45
Gave his weekly radio address on the topic of The Budget.
Having shown a clip from August 25 with Bush explaining how he likes to work on the ranch, Moore announces "George Bush spent the rest of the August at the ranch." Not so, as Scott Marquardt found by looking at Bush's activity for the very next day.
Sunday, August 26
Speaks at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Speaks at the U.S. Steel Group Steelworkers Picnic at Mon Valley Works, southeast of Pittsburgh. He also visits some employees still working, not at the picnic.
Marquandt looked up Bush's activities for the next three days:
Declared a major disaster area in Ohio and orders federal aid. This affects Brown, Butler, Clermont and Hamilton counties.
Sent a report on progress toward a "solution of the Cyprus question" to the Speaker of the House and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Announced his intention to nominate Kathleen Burton Clarke to be Director of the Bureau of Land Management (Department of the Interior).
Spoke at the American Legion's 83rd annual convention in San Antonio, discussing defense priorities. Decommissioned the Air Force One jet that flew 444 missions, from the Nixon administration to Bush's retirement ceremony for the plane in Waco, Texas.
Attended the dedication ceremony of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in San Antonio.
Announced appointment of 13 members of the Presidential Task Force to Improve Health Care Delivery for Our Nations Veterans.
It is true in a sense that the Presidency is a "24/7" job. But this does not mean that the President should be working every minute. A literal "24/7" job would mean that the President should be criticized for "sleeping on the job 33 percent of the time" if he slept for eight hours a day.
Christopher Hitchens notes:
[T]he shot of him "relaxing at Camp David" shows him side by side with Tony Blair. I say "shows," even though this photograph is on-screen so briefly that if you sneeze or blink, you won’t recognize the other figure. A meeting with the prime minister of the United Kingdom, or at least with this prime minister, is not a goof-off.
The president is also captured in a well-worn TV news clip, on a golf course, making a boilerplate response to a question on terrorism and then asking the reporters to watch his drive. Well, that’s what you get if you catch the president on a golf course.
Christopher Hitchens, "Unfairenheit 9/11: The lies of Michael Moore," Slate.com, June 21, 2004. (Some of Moore's defenders have denounced Hitchens as a member of the vast-right wing conspiracy. Hitchens, however, wrote an obituary of Ronald Reagan recalling his lone meeting with Reagan, when he asked a question which made Reagan angry: "The famously genial grin turned into a rictus of senile fury: I was looking at a cruel and stupid lizard." Hitchens also wrote a book and produced a movie, The Trials of Henry Kissinger, urging that Kissinger be tried for war crimes.)
By the way, the clip of Bush making a comment about terrorism, and then hitting a golf ball, is also taken out of context, at least partially:
Tuesday night on FNC’s Special Report with Brit Hume, Brian Wilson noted how "the viewer is left with the misleading impression Mr. Bush is talking about al-Qaeda terrorists." But Wilson disclosed that "a check of the raw tape reveals the President is talking about an attack against Israel, carried out by a Palestinian suicide bomber."
"Cyberalert," Media Research Center, July 1, 2004, item. 3.
Moore wraps up the vacation segment: "It was a summer to remember. And when it was over, he left Texas for his second favorite place." The movie then shows Bush in Florida. Actually, he went back to Washington, where he gave a speech on August 31.
[Moore response: Accurately quotes the Washington Post: "if you add up all his weekends at Camp David, layovers at Kennebunkport and assorted to-ing and fro-ing, W. will have spent 42 percent of his presidency 'at vacation spots or en route.'" Does not attempt to defend Fahrenheit's mischaracterization of the Post's meaning. Does not explain why the Israeli context was removed from the Bush quote. Does not defend the claim that Bush went from Texas to Florida.][/b]