Errol Morris lifts the fog around Bush's war

By David Talbot
October 28, 2004 3:06AM (UTC)
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Any Republicans in your family who are still wavering on Bush and could use a nudge in the opposite direction? Errol Morris might be your man. The Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker ("The Fog of War") directed and edited over 70 TV spots featuring long-time Republicans from every walk of life, who explain in heartfelt, compelling words why they're switching to Kerry this year. A half-dozen of the ads have run on TV, courtesy of MoveOn -- one ran nationally during the Republican National Convention and the others in various swing states. Frustrated that his spots did not get a wider airing on TV, Morris has now put his entire army of anti-Bush Republicans on his Web site, where they can be seen ripping into the president on Iraq, the economy, the environment, civil liberties, and his character.

"We were given these ideas that there were weapons of mass destruction. But where are they?" says Lee Buttrill, a young Marine veteran of Iraq, in one Morris spot. "I was on an intelligence gathering team and looked. We never found anything. It was just a lie. It wasn't a proper use of my life, of my friends' lives, or the Marines who I've seen die around me. It's not a proper use."


Why did Morris, who has never done something like this before, take the plunge into political advertising this year? "A mixture of fear, hope and despair," he told War Room. "I'm not sure I can construct the relevant pie graph, but my guess is 60 percent fear, 30 percent despair, and 10 percent hope.

"I had just won an Oscar for 'The Fog of War,' which chronicles a half-century of error, self-deception and wishful-thinking in American foreign policy. It's hard to edit scenes about the Gulf of Tonkin incidents (where we went to war over an imagined Communist attack that never happened) or about the Cuban missile crisis (where we narrowly averted nuclear war not through diplomatic skill but blind luck) and not think about our current political situation. That's why I call this the I-WANT-MY-MOMMY-ELECTION. Everything I read, everything I hear just makes me went to crawl under the bed and suck-my-thumb."

But instead of ducking under the bed, Morris picked up his camera and began cranking out his 30-second portraits of deeply disenchanted Republican Americans. "I hope even at this late date they can make a difference."

David Talbot

David Talbot, the founder of Salon, is the author of New York Times bestsellers like "Brothers," "The Devil's Chessboard," and "Season of the Witch." His most recent book is "Between Heaven and Hell: The Story of My Stroke."

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