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Sister Souljah Moment For Michael Moore, and Ted Kennedy?

Very few Americans have ever heard the rap music of Sister Souljah; in fact, Ms. Souljah's music is almost entirely inconsequential.

However, her name, now a verb (one can "Sister Souljah" someone else) is ubiquitous in the annals of modern political trivia, defined as an out-of-the-mainstream radical whose politically-damaging views are rebuked by a mainstream political figure.


In 1992, then-Presidential candidate Bill Clinton delivered an unexpected rebuke of Ms. Souljah, following Souljah's comments regarding the acceptability of black-on-white violence.

Mark Leon Goldberg, of The American Prospect, writes,

"The genius of Clinton’s rebuke of Souljah was that it was geared not to the assembled black leaders seated in front of him but to moderate whites, who needed to see that Clinton was not some patsy of narrow left-wing interest groups. It was cold, calculated, and effective."

Clinton's comments in 1992 were politically and strategically brilliant; Democrats in power today do not seem capable of such tactical smarts.

Flash forward to 2004. Michael Moore made a movie that insinuated, among other things, that President Bush stole the 2000 election, that the President and his family profited financially from 9/11, that the primary motivation for the war in Afghanistan was a desire to build a natural gas pipeline through the region, and that the President was on vacation, disengaged from leading, most of his first term.

When Moore released his movie, did leading Democrats pull the brakes? Did they say, "woah, now, this thing is over the line and does not speak for us," or did they wholeheartedly embrace the paranoid propaganda?

Democrats opted to become the party of Michael Moore, the party of conspiracy theories, the party of anger, the party of divisiveness, the party of nonsense. Tom Daschle, in 2004, was the most powerful Democrat in the country. As Senate Minority Leader, he controlled the agenda for Democrats, and stymied the Republican agenda, with the power of the Senate filibuster. He also attended the premiere of Fahrenheit 9/11, praising (and even hugging) Michael Moore afterward.


Mr. Goldberg refreshes the story of former General Clark, and his missed "Sister Souljah" opportunity:

"Shortly after Wesley Clark enthusiastically accepted Moore’s endorsement in January 2004, the two took the stage together at a New Hampshire campaign stop. During the rally, Moore leveled the charge that President Bush is a deserter based on the curious gaps in his National Guard service record. The press seized on this statement -- after all, desertion is a crime that used to be punishable by death. Clark, perhaps due to his character or his political inexperience (or both), could not bring himself to repudiate Moore."

Following Clark's failure to "Sister Souljah" Michael Moore, his campaign imploded. Whatever national security credentials General Clark possessed were eroded instantaneously. In a post-9/11 America, Americans want leaders who are credible, not soft, on national security issues. Clark apparently wagered that his experience as a General would balance any kind of association with the radical anti-war wing of his newfound party.

He was wrong. The negative effects of Michael Moore's readily-accepted endorsement were too powerful.

One would assume that Democrats learned something from 2004, that it would be time to moderate a bit, to eschew the radicals, to try to regain some credibility on defense issues. Peter Beinart's December 2004 piece, "A Fighting Faith," in The New Republic, which argued that Democrats need to rehabilitate their soft image on terrorism, set off a debate, particularly among liberal bloggers, but has thus-far failed to produce any changes.

Democrats seem to be more angry than ever, more appeasement-minded than ever, and the rhetoric of Michael Moore has continued to be championed by formerly mainstream figures within the party.

In some ways, it makes sense, the Democrats embracing Moore. He has quite a bit in common with the current de facto leader of the party, Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy.


Republicans will benefit from the failure of Democrats to "Sister Souljah" individuals like Michael Moore, but WILLisms.com believes putting crass partisanship before country is unacceptable, thus we urge Democrats to get a grip, and soon. Democrats, in the meantime, may need to purge more than Moore from their ranks in order to regain national security street-cred.

While electorally, the Democrats' poor choices advance the philosophy of WILLisms.com, their last-ditch effort to resurrect the the shrinking donkey is ultimately bad for America. The Democrats' inflammatory rhetoric helps Republicans at the ballot box, but does so at the expense of American clarity of purpose on the war against terror. In short, it sends the wrong message to the wrong people.

Democrats seem poised in 2005 to be even more obstructionist than ever, more combative than ever, and, unfortunately, more "Vietnam-era" than ever. Ted Kennedy sounds more shrill, more radical, and more irrational, with each passing day. The Wall Street Journal writes,

"His message is that the recent election essentially meant nothing. 'We as Democrats may be in the minority in Congress, but we speak for the majority of Americans,' declared the man who has four fewer Democratic Senate colleagues than he did before November 2.

'Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam,' he added, elaborating in another speech yesterday that 'the war in Iraq has become a war on the American occupation.' This, on the eve of an election in which millions of Iraqis will risk their lives to create a new self-governing country (see above). He also called for a precipitous American pullout that coincides with the wishes of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, among others who are assassinating Iraqi democrats.


The Kennedy Democrats are betting that Iraq will become such a quagmire that they can safely run against the war and prosper in 2006 on a voter backlash. But even if they're right about Iraq, it's just as possible that voters won't want to reward Democrats who sound like they're cheerleading for America to fail."

One wonders if, in 2008 (or even 2006), a Democrat running for office will have to "Sister Souljah" both Michael Moore and Ted Kennedy to gain credibility. From that point on, "Ted Kennedy" would become a verb, synonymous with "Sister Souljah."

Posted by Will Franklin · 29 January 2005 04:12 PM


That's a far out picture of Whiskey Ted.

Nice blog.

Posted by: Boethius at January 29, 2005 08:05 PM

Ted needs a bro!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at July 25, 2005 08:09 PM