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Milquetoast Mussolini

"If I were the president of Iran, if I were Osama bin Laden or any of the terrorist organizers and I could have my wish list totally," stated milquetoast music icon and political commentator wannabe Pat Boone in a recent interview, "I couldn’t ask for anything better than for America’s entertainers to bash their president, denigrate him, make him seem like an idiot and a self-serving fool, and then have the media go along with it and promote it like crazy and try to undermine the whole war effort."

So by Boone’s calculations, "America’s entertainers" are the key strategic resource in the "War on Terror," and nothing – nothing! – is more important to the "Islamo-Fascists" than having our singers of songs and professional pretenders (also known as "actors") criticize the president.

The occasional intemperate comment from an actor or musician has greater throw-weight than a suitcase nuke, and a deadlier capacity for contagion than a bio-weapon, according to Boone’s expert assessment. That reckoning, I suspect, has a lot to do with professional narcissism: as an entertainer, Boone is inclined to see his profession as the center of the universe.

Mr. Boone’s strategic insights were offered as a rebuke to Natalie Maines, lead singer for the Dixie Chicks, who famously denounced President Bush on the eve of the unnecessary war in Iraq in 2003. The Chicks’ new album features a track entitled "Not Ready to Make Nice," which hurls defiance at those who attempted to boycott the group in the wake of Maines’ comment. And Maines herself has retracted an apology she had made for the remark, quite sensibly saying "I don’t feel he is owed any respect whatsoever."

"We are at war," insists Boone, "and you don’t tell even a quarterback in a football game that he’s nuts and you don’t respect him. You try to pull for a win, and that’s what we should be trying to do…. You can disagree. You can express your disagreement, but don’t attack the man who is your elected leader and say he’s not owed any respect at all."

Where do we begin in dealing with this large, reeking pile of used food?

First of all:

War isn’t a football game. It is the calculated destruction of irreplaceable lives and, often, entire societies. Modern war often inflicts nearly as much damage on the "victor" as on the vanquished.

Second:

When a quarterback is stinking up the field, he can expect rough treatment from his coach, the team owner, and the fans – all of whom generally won’t restrict themselves to decorously phrased critical comments like those Maines made about Bush, who shamelessly lied our nation into a needless and disastrous war. A quarterback who consistently throws interceptions or gets sacked for losses isn’t entitled to respect, and won’t last long in the starting lineup.

Third:

When our nation launches an unnecessary aggressive war – one not prosecuted in the fashion the Constitution prescribes – that proves to be a strategic and moral disaster, Americans should not "pull for a win." Yes, to revert to Boone’s favored idiom, we should "root, root, root for the home team." But when our government launches an aggressive war against a distant nation that hasn’t attacked or threatened us, we are not the home team.

The only way for the American people, as opposed to the corrupt criminals who rule us, to "win" the Iraq war is to end it immediately.

Fourth:

The President of the United States is not our "leader." He is our agent, our employee. He is not some numinous being who embodies our national will, as peddlers of Fuhrerprinzip would have us believe. Unless they are active-duty members of the military, Americans have no Commander-in-Chief, and unless war is declared by Congress that occasional function of the presidency isn’t operative.

In trying to isolate the most foolish thing Boone said in that brief interview, one is confronted with an embarrassment of riches. But from my point of view, the booby prize goes to Boone’s apparent belief that the thing Osama bin Laden and his ilk would covet more than anything else would be public criticism of George W. Bush.

Any rational assessment of Bush’s foreign policy would lead one to conclude that Osama (citing him as the figurative head of the radical Islamic movement) has no better or more reliable ally than Bush. Osama’s announced intention is to bleed our economy dry – something the Bush administration is eagerly doing, with the dutiful help of the Republican Congress.

Bush is a similarly valuable ally to Iran’s President Ahmadinejad. Iran is the chief strategic beneficiary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which removed Teheran’s chief Persian Gulf region rival and installed an Iran-friendly Shi’ite regime.

As Pat Boone’s comments nicely illustrate, most celebrities are no wiser or better informed than the rest of us. He should take the advice famously tendered by Bushbot talk show host Laura Ingraham to left-leaning celebrities: Just shut up and sing.

May 25, 2006

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