- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 5, 2002

Never let it be said Democrats cannot be portrayed as playthings of the wealthy when there's "soft money" on the line.

Barbra Streisand headlined a $6 million benefit on Sept. 29 for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Dick Gephardt was all smiles, even though Barbra sent him a memo spelling his name "Gebhardt."

"Eat your heart out," glamour-stricken Mr. Gephardt said to Republicans at the Hollywood gala. "I get faxes from Barbra Streisand. They get faxes from Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson." The fax from the diva's radical political guru, Marge Tabankin, complained that Democrats take too much Republican criticism lying down. They composed the memo after getting "very emotional" watching Tom Daschle's Senate floor brouhaha about President Bush's supposedly "outrageous" remarks allegedly about Democrats being soft on national security.

Democratic resistance to war on Iraq is bringing back the party to its natural Hollywood belief system: amorphously pacifist and uniformly American-loathing. Back in the 1980s, Miss Streisand and Miss Tabankin were running the Hollywood Women's Political Committee, whose statement of principles called for "the immediate dismantling of the global nuclear war machine." For them there was no moral difference between the United States and the Soviet Union, except the Soviet Union wasn't accused of "dismantling the social agenda."

In the eyes of radical leftists like Miss Streisand, the focus on Saddam Hussein is a transparent attempt to manipulate the elections: "I find bringing the country to the brink of war unilaterally five weeks before an election frightening." It's all a scam to enrich Republican donors, I suppose. Worse, it's a prelude to Bush dictatorship.

Barbra told her audience: "Shortly after George W. Bush was elected, sort of, I saw him on television say, 'If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator.' And he laughed. You know, people never really joke. That was very revealing. A taste of things to come."

Isn't it amazing that Democrats spent two years maligning George W. Bush for having too little experience and too little intellect, and now that he's president, congressional leaders are lauding their faxes from "advisers" whose qualifications for office include starring in "Hello Dolly" and "The Prince of Tides"? Al Gore can't give a speech on Iraq without his camp actually boasting to reporters that among their advisers was Rob Reiner, which launched Charles Krauthammer's priceless gibe that while Mr. Bush was advised by Richard Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld, Mr. Gore was "huddling with Meathead."

They ridiculed Ronald Reagan as nothing but an actor, but now actors are at the top of their policy elite.

First, but as opposed to Ronald Reagan, these Hollywood stars are often political dilettantes, embarrassing faux-intellectuals who aren't fit to polish Dan Quayle's bookcases. Not only did Miss Streisand misspell Mr. Gephardt's name, she also fell victim to an Internet hoax, quoting a hotheaded denunciation of dangerous wartime leaders as the work of William Shakespeare, when a few minutes of checking might have prevented the gaffe.

Compared to these stars, the Democratic Party is conservative. Ed Asner recently appeared on "The O'Reilly Factor" to say Mr. Bush was "desecrating" America and creating an "imperialist government." Just weeks ago, Mr. Asner and other celebrities signed an ad in the New York Times calling on people to "resist the war and repression that has been loosed on the world by the Bush administration." The ad compared September 11 to "similar scenes in Baghdad, Panama City and, a generation ago, Vietnam."

Back in the 1980s, Mr. Asner was calling on Congress to impeach Mr. Reagan for resisting the charms of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Mr. Asner was there for the "victory" party in 1990 and ended up "flabbergasted" when the communist dictators were thrown out like trash. Somehow this again was all America's fault: "The people of Nicaragua had a 600-pound gorilla on their backs for 10 years, and they decided they didn't want a hernia."

They used to call them "Blame America First" liberals. But these leftist celebrities are beyond that. They are America-haters. It was one thing to resist America when America threatened their pals like Daniel Ortega or Fidel Castro. But why would anyone calling themselves "progressive" stand against the disarmament of Saddam Hussein? The only reason is the compelling belief that America is not a force for good in the world, not a noble actor, not a just enterprise. America is a ruthless cowboy ruining the planet.

Republicans should be salivating, praying for evermore coverage and more examples of the Hollywood left dragging the Democratic Party back to its Reagan-era home, when every weapons system was a monstrosity, and national defense was an industrial plot to prevent inner-city children from getting fed. Barbra Streisand raised a cool million in 1984 for Walter Mondale, too. Remember how much good that did?

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