Even though Donald Trump’s fans will almost certainly be angry with Michael Moore’s new standup show on Broadway, “The Terms of My Surrender,” several of them show up every night to hear what the president's detractor has to say — and maybe learn something new. After all, the filmmaker is among the only people in the left-liberal camp who guessed that Trump would win the election.
Moore knows that these rivals come to listen to him, and asks them to identify themselves. The night I went to the show only a few were willing to do so, but Moore doesn’t harass them as long as they sit quietly. He has good reason: Maybe they’ll be convinced. And besides, they spend $100 on average to see him.
On the stage a huge American flag is lit up; Moore enters through a door to the cheering audience, wearing his trademark baseball cap and sneakers. He gets straight to business: The person least surprised by the result asks the audience what the hell happened. He reminds his audience that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won by about 3 million votes, but because of the election system, the electoral college, lost to Trump, who won with a minuscule advantage in a few states not necessarily that important.
When a huge picture of Trump is shown on the stage, the onslaught against the president begins. Moore asks: How did the stupidest man ever to run for the presidency beat the smartest candidate ever? And members of the audience shout derogatory descriptions of the president: crazy, insane, idiot, racist, liar, predator.
The atmosphere quickly turns ugly as more and more people in the audience shout demeaning remarks against Trump. When the audience calms down Moore wonders: How did a crazy person like Trump convince millions of Obama voters to vote for him? How come 56 percent of white women voted for him?
He says two out of three white men in certain states voted for Trump and asks: What does that mean? That when he walks down the street in Wisconsin and sees white men he has to cross the street?
He says America is a leftist liberal country, which is the opinion of most Americans. He claims that if you ask Americans whether they’re in favor of equal pay for men and women, environmental protection, restrictions on gun sales and free choice for women regarding abortions, most will express liberal opinions.
Then he asks how it is that the Republicans are in charge of the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court, and says this must end.
A pat on the back
He adds that Americans have undergone a process that has turned them into fools, and that Americans get snared by catchy phrases like “lock her up.” He notes that the first episode of “The Apprentice” was viewed by 44 million people and asks what that says about America.
And that’s how Americans elected a president who’s an idiot, he says. He explains that Trump knew how to manipulate white men who had reason to be angry because they felt they had no future; they wanted to hit back at the system and elect him to save them. But, says Moore, black and Hispanic men were also screwed by the system.
Moore pats himself on the back. He says he thought Trump had a chance to be elected but the majority didn’t think so. He notes how it was said that Trump was finished when he mocked Sen. John McCain for being taken prisoner during the Vietnam War — and after Trump made fun of the family of a U.S. army captain who was killed in Iraq.
Moore says he doesn’t believe that even now, with all his entanglements, Trump will be ousted or put on trial for his problems with Russia. He tells the audience they have to think about what will happen after eight years; he says Trump will be president for two terms.
I saw the show during the week of the mass shooting in Las Vegas; the easy access to guns in the United States was the main subject. Moore says most Americans — 77 percent — don’t own a gun, but 3 percent have between eight and 140 firearms, and Moore asks why they need so many.
Due to the terrible situation in the United States, Moore announces, with the help of a (planted?) woman in the audience, his decision to run for president. One section of his platform is to create a uniform cable for all devices. Loyal to the U.S. election tradition, he scatters promises in all directions: free Netflix and HBO for everyone, the U.S. Postal Service will provide every citizen with two free joints.
And now Moore switches from the ridiculous to the serious. When a president decides to go to war, his children should go first. He says he opposed the war in Iraq, but not only the Republicans supported the war that today everyone agrees was a mistake — so did the Democrats and the leftists, Hillary Clinton, The New York Times and The New Yorker.
And yes, Moore believes that Trump will also lead the United States to war. That will happen when the investigation against him delves deeper and he moves to divert attention from the probe. And then what? Moore believes that the Democrats and The New York Times will support the war too.
The view from Flint
Moore laughs and makes people laugh, but says that due to his opposition to the Iraq War and his unconventional opinions his life has been threatened.
Toward the end of the show he speaks about Flint, Michigan, which was disconnected from the good-quality water system and connected to a cheaper source, a nearby river — possibly exposing people to high levels of lead and causing brain damage in children. But as Moore puts it, the city had to save money because of $1 billion in tax exemptions for the rich.
The story of Flint is familiar, but the way Moore tells it gives it an entirely different perspective. He says that what happened there is no less than the harming of innocent citizens, including children, for reasons of greed and negligence, and that people go to jail in the United States for much less.
The show is two hours and 15 minutes long, without an intermission. At least half an hour could be cut, but Moore seems to be enjoying himself.
That’s definitely not true of the spectators. There’s no shortage of weak moments. During every performance Moore interviews a guest. At the one I saw it was actress Rosario Dawson — a boring interview that lasted more than 15 minutes.
Both Moore and Dawson are enthusiastic supporters of Bernie Sanders. Moore complimented Dawson continuously and expressed enthusiasm for what she had to say. The interview resembled a boring interview on a nighttime talk show, not the sharp satire that Moore is famous for.
And what are the terms of Moore’s surrender, on which the name of the show is based? He says that despite the threats he doesn’t intend to give up; no one should have any illusions about that. His struggle will continue.