CBSNews.com Chief Political Writer
Michael Moore has a war plan to defeat President Bush. With MoveOn.org, he now has his army.
Speaking to an estimated 55,000 liberal activists by conference call Monday night, packed into 4,600 homes nationwide, Moore asked three things of his devoted listeners.
First, get up at 5 a.m. on Nov. 2; take the day off from work and volunteer in your local community to help increase turnout for Sen. John Kerry. Second, take one weekend in October, drive to a swing state and rally people to Kerry's side. Third, find five potential voters who were not planning to vote, and "adopt them." Get them to vote, he urged.
Michael Moore is serious. He's invigorated. And why shouldn't he be? His controversial new film, "Fahrenheit 9/11," had a record box-office debut for a documentary. It earned $23.9 million over the weekend. It was number one not just in Democratic states, but also in every state George W. Bush won in 2000.
In New York's Chinatown, at the duplex loft apartment of artist Damien Loeb and his wife Zoya, a Ralph Lauren model, techno icon Moby leaned on a counter and quieted, comedian David Cross stopped chatting with friends, and the wine sipping ceased across the room, as Moore spoke.
Sounding a little stunned, Moore said "how thrilled" he was at the reaction. He said the "truth will come out." He said Americans will "feel so deceived and betrayed" after they see his film, they "will respond with a vengeance." At least, he hopes so, as does the liberal grassroots organization MoveOn.org, which has joined Moore's fight.
For the host, Damien Loeb, a new member of MoveOn, it has become his fight, too.
He said he couldn't keep on complaining "about the politics of America and not do something about it besides vote. And Moby has been a friend of mine for 16 years and he asked to use the space and I am only willing to help this cause."
As Moby fiddled with the baggy pockets of his green-army pants and adjusted his thick black-rimmed glasses, he explained that he asked Loeb to hold a house party because "I kind of feel like one of the only healthy ways to use fame is to draw attention to causes that I believe in."
This is not the first time Moby has gone political. The most famous of the semi-famous guests at this downtown hipster house party, Moby has stumped with Kerry on occasion as well as played on stage with him, rating the Massachusetts senator "a very competent guitar player."
Hostess Zoya Loeb said she knew nothing of Kerry's musical talent but would do what she could to assist MoveOn. The Oxford-educated model from London said she wished she could vote in the U.S. election. Instead, she says she will oppose George W. Bush's ally Tony Blair in the coming British elections because of his support for the war in Iraq.
While checking that her guests' fare was full, Zoya, a tall fine-featured sullen-faced brunette, explained that she believes this will be "the year that people are roused from their apathy."
As her three cats – Fatty, Stinky and Tiny – scampered around, Zoya added, "I think this year we have all come to see the affects of our apathy."
And as Moore stopped speaking and MoveOn members read testimonials from former conservatives now supporting Kerry – as if the former Republicans were reformed alcoholics – Moby, Cross and the Loebs engaged the party again. Even they found the testimonials drab.
Cross said he is "constantly on the road" and that he believes there are "more people than you would think" upset with President Bush and ready to vote against him. Those attending, excluding Moby and possibly a few others, seemed more enthused to beat Mr. Bush than to vote for Kerry, but all intended to line up behind the presumed Democratic nominee.
Clearly the 60 people attending, if indicative of the other house parties nationwide, represent a new kind of liberal. They are pragmatic where once they were idealistic; they disdain independent candidate Ralph Nader in favor of Kerry, a mainstream Washington Democrat.
And if they are like Moby, whose real name is Richard Melville Hall, they are ready to set aside personal cash and time to keep George W. Bush from serving four more years.
"It would be nice to live in a country where political apathy wasn't an option," said Moby, scratching his shaved head. "I kind of feel like between now and the election, anything anyone can do to try and make politics in the United States more sane and more moderate, we must."