- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Maybe Bruce Willis is the man to unite divided Republicans.

As a fractious GOP weaves erratically among its mixed messages and variant visions — see, for example, Tuesday night’s stereophonic, “official” and “unofficial” State of the Union responses — Mr. Willis continues to speak out in mono, on message, in a language common to all Republicans.

In France on Monday to be honored with that nation’s Commander of the Arts medal, the wisecracking star took a very public swing at Socialist President Francois Hollande’s controversial 75 percent “millionaire’s tax.”

The internationally popular superstar, born on a U.S. air base in Germany, told the Paris gathering that he “feels at home” in France, according to the Associated Press, but that he opposes the Socialist government’s 75 percent tax rate on incomes over $1.32 million and “hopes he would be able to complain about it if he lived in France.”

The “millionaire’s tax” has reportedly chilled the investment climate in France and driven some national icons — including actor Gerard Depardieu and luxury-goods tycoon Bernard Arnault (Louis Vuitton-Moet Hennessy) — into actual or contemplated tax exile. (The prospective levy suffered a serious legal setback late last year and may not survive intact.)

Just last week, the bullet-headed Mr. Willis stood his ground in defense of gun rights, after fellow gun-slinging action movie vets (and “The Expendables” cohorts) Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone had bowed to the anti-gun backlash that swept the news media and parts of the nation following December’s devastating school slaughter in Newtown, Conn.

“I think that you can’t start to pick apart anything out of the Bill of Rights without thinking that it’s all going to become undone,” Mr. Willis told The Associated Press in a recent interview while promoting “A Good Day To Die Hard” (opening Thursday), the actor’s fifth turn as John McClane, the bedraggled, reluctant hero of the lucrative film franchise. “If you take one out or change one law, then why wouldn’t they take all your rights away from you?”

Also discounting movie violence as a cause of real-world gun tragedies, Mr. Willis said: “It’s a difficult thing, and I really feel bad for those families. I’m a father, and it’s just a tragedy. But I don’t know how you legislate insanity. I don’t know what you do about it. I don’t even know how you begin to stop that.”

As for any hopes that Mr. Willis could emerge as a GOP savior — they’re probably best held in check.

True to the “fly-in-the-ointment” spirit of his anti-establishment cop John McClane, Mr. Willis himself sounds like a staunch libertarian, incidental Republican.

“I’m a Republican only as far as I want a smaller government, want less government intrusion,” he said in a 2006 interview, according to Foxnews.com, while lamenting both parties’ fiscal profligacy. “I hate government. I’m apolitical. Write that down. I’m not a Republican.”

• Daniel Wattenberg can be reached at dwattenberg@washingtontimes.com.

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