The United States is on the brink of war with Iraq. As Saddam Hussein begins to brace for the whirlwind, he's got few weapons left. One of them is very predictable: Hollywood.
A group called "Artists United to Win Without War" planned a "virtual march" on Washington for February 26, an electric blitz of phone calls, faxes, and e-mails calling for delay, delay, delay - the complete set of Tariq Aziz talking points.
But wait a minute. Just how can one take these "artists" seriously when they give themselves a name like that? Just how does one "win without war"? We accomplished zilch-o with U.N. "enforcement." Now we're going to "win" by giving in to more of the same. Kumbaya.
To get the Hollywood campaign going, the "artists" put out 30-second TV ads featuring...themselves. Martin Sheen, NBC's fake president, declares "Don't invade Iraq...Inspections work. War won't." The ad does not include a laugh track. In a different ad campaign, sour-pussed "comedian" Janeane Garofalo informs viewers of a U.N. estimate of half a million casualties "if we invade Iraq." She asks, "Do we have the right to do that to a country that's done nothing to us?"
Celebrity Garofalo has been on news channels everywhere decrying how news channels only want to talk to celebrities instead of real experts. If only she had the decency to abide by her own argument and shut up! Hollywood plasters itself all over the public policy debate and after being picked up by news media, then they slam the press for being shallow.
As the Iraq threat grows more serious, these cultural ambassadors just get sillier. On last week's Sunday "news" shows, while NBC poked at an actual acid-flashback sixties retread, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, CBS and Fox sank into silliness by inviting on celebrity Iraq "experts." Can you imagine being one of the roughly 500 members of Congress who never get invited? If you want to match furrowed brows with Bob Schieffer, it would have been smarter to work first on the sets of "M*A*S*H," or "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
CBS matched savvy National Review editor Rich Lowry with radical-left actors Mike Farrell and Susan Sarandon. This is one week where liberals might have complained about the imbalance to the right, one conservative heavyweight and two leftist lightweights. It was painful to watch, and we were all in trouble when Schieffer began his interview with Farrell by chatting like a smitten fan about how much he loved him as "the other doctor" on "M*A*S*H." I loved that show, too, but it doesn't stop me from wanting to stomp on Farrell's wacky political agenda.
On "Fox News Sunday," Tony Snow was wading warily through the gaseous fog that is Janeane Garofalo's mind. This woman makes Joe Biden look sophisticated. It's apparently riveting TV to match geopolitical wits with the star of "The Truth About Cats and Dogs" as she talks about "Operation Desert Fox." Maybe she's seen James Mason play Nazi Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in the 1951 movie "Desert Fox." Or maybe she was just thinking about appearing on Fox. Maybe she is a fox. I don't know.
In yet another appearance on MSNBC, host Mike Barnicle asked Garofalo who was more dangerous, Saddam or President Bush. She claimed "they are both very threatening to world peace and to deny that is to be incredibly naive." Really? Well, sure. "There has been a war on the people of Iraq since 1990. The plan to go into Iraq for hegemony over the region has been in play for a very long time and the ideologues in this administration want to go in."
Spare us. Garofalo here is merely chanting the mantras of America-loathing crackpots like Noam Chomsky and Ramsey Clark, who spent the 1990s blaming the United States for starving Iraqi children with an embargo, even as Saddam Hussein made food unavailable to his people while he loaded up on weapons manufacturing.
Giving these "artists" a little room to rant quickly reveals the lie behind their campaign's claim to be a "mainstream voice" for "patriotic Americans." Anyone taking the "artists" seriously must be prepared to deny the truth that the Sheen-Garofalo-Farrell-Sarandon crowd represent a hard-left fringe, decidedly outside the American mainstream on war and peace, and nearly everything else.
I believe the challenges we face are too serious to play jokes on the American people. But then I consider that on the brink of war, we deserve a few laughs to ease the pressure. So I look forward to the next Garofalo interview.