He's become the rallying point. He's raised the flag, and the most motivated LL's are flocking to support him. He's become their poster boy, their public face. He provides a focal point; he's a magnet around which they can gather and organize.
He has chosen the ground they will defend – and it is dreadful ground indeed.
Moore's stuff sells very well in Europe. It is comforting for the many Europeans who fear and hate America. They've found an "honest" American who bravely and forthrightly tells "the truth" about America: that the vast majority of us are stupid, venal, unsophisticated, uneducated, provincial, oblivious, and self-absorbed.
Moore's stuff sells in Europe precisely because it seems to justify and reaffirm the prejudices many there have about Americans. It is unlikely that Moore is actually changing any minds, however. The Europeans who buy and read his books and pay to watch his films are the ones who already agree with him. They consume his material so they can laugh as he makes fun of us, and nod sagely as he explains how Big Oil and Corrupt Businesses are actually behind it all. (And the Jews. And the Saudis.)
His primary audience here in the US is exactly the same. He's preaching to the converted. Non-LL's who have gone to see his movie have concluded that it was a total crock.
If one accepts the cynical evaluation of Moore, then it would be clear that he doesn't care. If someone watches his film and finds it shoddy and totally unconvincing, he still gets a piece of their ticket price, and laughs all the way to the bank.
Nonetheless, as D'Ancona says, the LL's have rallied to his flag. They've moved to his holy city. They've adopted positions on the terrain he's chosen for the battle. And they're using the arguments and evidence he provides as ammunition.
In the short term, it may seem as if the LL's are mobilized and fighting hard. But it also leaves them concentrated and vulnerable. And they are fighting on just about the worst ground they could have chosen.
Moore may or may not believe that, but a lot of the LL's who have rallied to his flag do believe it. However, will it really be the case that he nurtures that delusion? Or merely bring together those who already suffered from it? Will his flag inspire LL's to loudly proclaim that which they already believed, thus ultimately making their paranoid delusion blatantly clear to the broader electorate?
Will the LL's rallying to Moore's flag be able to inspire the broader electorate to join them? Or will they end up isolated, discredited, and ultimately disillusioned, to slink away quietly when the uprising doesn't materialize?
As usual, den Beste provides intriguing analysis, if you have the patience to get all the way through his essays. I wouldn't have drawn the same parallel with al-Sadr, but I do agree that the more the Democrats embrace Moore and his ilk, the more it's liable to hurt them. The problem is that the mainstream media seems more than willing to run interference for Moore and Gore, burying their wilder statements, giving them positive coverage which plays up how respected they are. It might work for Al Gore, but it's harder to do with Michael Moore, since anyone can simply go to see the movie or read his books.