4. Michael Moore
At the 2003 Independent Spirit Awards, the comedic documentarian/activist won the Best Documentary Feature gong for Bowling For Columbine. During his acceptance speech, he took the opportunity to forcefully criticize President Bush:
“We have a fictitious President, who was put in office with fictitious results and he’s now conducting a war for fictitious reasons.
This is absolutely insane. The lesson for the children of Columbine this week is that violence is an accepted means to resolve a conflict and it’s a sad, sick and immoral lesson.”
The very next night, in front of a much larger TV audience, while accepting the Oscar in the same category for the same movie, he essentially said the same thing while adding, “…we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you.”
It drew a decidedly mixed reaction as a large number of boos competed with a few cheers to drown out his words.
Weeks later, celebrities who supported the Iraq invasion, voiced their disapproval of Moore’s comments publicly. As Moore himself noted later on, when he walked off-stage, someone screamed “Asshole!” right in his ear. Years later, that same guy apologized to him personally and admitted Moore’s opposition to the war was right.
I wonder if any of those pro-war celebrities did the same thing.
5. Rep. Barbara Lee
Politicians are generally a gutless bunch, so it’s always a surprise when an elected official breaks from the pack on principle, especially during a national crisis. Such was the case with this California Congresswoman, the only American politician to vote against The Patriot Act, in 2002.
In a statement publicly released on August 21, 2002, which you can still read on her website, Democratic Rep. Lee noted the following:
“I have been deeply worried about the expansion and escalation of military action since Congress’s vote last September to grant the President such sweeping war making authority…Now, with rising calls from members of the Bush Administration and some members of Congress demanding war with Iraq and increasingly dangerous rhetoric from the President himself, those fears are becoming a reality.”
“We have seen no evidence tying Iraq to the atrocities of September 11th…”
“Today, we are at a critical crossroads and there has been far too little honest and open debate about where our policies should go from here.”
“A U.S. invasion of Iraq escalating and expanding conflict in the Middle East without constitutional authority, international support, or legal justification would represent a tragedy of immense proportions. Members of Congress must stand up and oppose this dangerous course of action and work to promote a policy that advances real U.S. security interests through renewed U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq and engagement rather than invasion.”
As a result many months later, Rep. Lee, whose view has remained unchanged in the 12 years that have followed, voted against the Iraq War authorization. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, supported it. Remember that if she runs for President in 2016.
6. Senator Russ Feingold
In October 2002, the then-Senator of Wisconsin took to the floor of the Senate to make a long speech, later posted on Antiwar.com, to explain why he was opposing the Iraq invasion:
“They have not yet met the important burden to persuade Congress and the American people that we should invade Iraq at this time.”
“Both in terms of the justifications for an invasion and in terms of the mission and the plan for the invasion, Mr. President, the Administration’s arguments just don’t add up. They don’t add up to a coherent basis for a new major war in the middle of our current challenging fight against the terrorism of al Qaeda and related organizations. Therefore, I cannot support the resolution for the use of force before us.”
“…this could well represent a disturbing change in our overall foreign and military policy. This includes grave concerns about what such a preemption-plus policy will do to our relationship with our allies, to our national security, and to the cause of world peace in so many regions of the world, where such a doctrine could trigger very dangerous actions with really very minimal justification.”
“…Mr. President, I am increasingly troubled by the seemingly shifting justifications for an invasion at this time…when the Administration moves back and forth from one argument to another, I think it undercuts the credibility of the case and the belief in its urgency.”
“I’m talking about the spectacle of the President and senior Administration officials citing a purported connection to al Qaeda one day, weapons of mass destruction the next day, Saddam Hussein’s treatment of his own people on another day, and then on some days the issue of Kuwaiti prisoners of war.”
“…the Administration appears to use 9-11 and the language of terrorism and the connection to Iraq too loosely, almost like a bootstrap.”
“An invasion of Iraq in the next few weeks or months could in fact be very counterproductive. In fact, it could risk our national security.”
“In any event, I oppose this resolution because of the continuing unanswered questions, including the very important questions about what the mission is here, what the nature of the operation will be, what will happen concerning weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as the attack proceeds and afterward, and what the plan is after the attack is over.”
“What if there is chaos in the wake of the regime’s fall that provides new opportunities for nonstate actors, including terrorist organizations, to bid on the sinister items tucked away in Iraq?”
“…as far as I can tell, the Administration apparently intends to wing it when it comes to the day after or, as others have suggested, the decade after. And I think, Mr. President, that makes no sense at all.”
“I am concerned that the President is pushing us into a mistaken and counterproductive course of action. Instead of this war being crucial on the war on terrorism, I fear it could have the opposite effect.”
Eight years later, after almost two decades in the Senate, Feingold was voted out of office.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, June 23, 2014