On this day in which Americans honor their war dead, perhaps a smidgen of our time should be spent reflecting on the unheralded and fearless wartime antics of Sean Penn.
Yes, that Sean Penn: Hollywood actor, director, tough guy and agent provocateur in America’s time of peril - a man history, no doubt, will credit with an assist in bringing democracy to Iraq.
It is now time for Mr. Penn to end his service to his country and commit to the next chapter in his life. He has done more than enough. America simply doesn’t make medals for Mr. Penn’s kind of service. Nor would he accept them. Now he must come clean and take on the next challenge of his career: Bring the rest of Hollywood to America’s aid by creating an army of underground patriots.
With a Democrat as commander in chief, it’s now or never for Tinseltown to get the patriotic bug.
Since his friends and political allies don’t read this column, I feel comfortable outing the left-wing agitator as an unsung patriot in the war on terrorism. I know that other entertainment media outlets are working this blockbuster story and that the mainstream media is still figuring out how to play it. Like in his Oscar-winning acting, Mr. Penn has broken all the rules.
In late 2002, Mr. Penn toured Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad with his camera and offered the Pentagon precise locations for bombing. “Shock and Awe” was a rousing success to a great extent because a courageous and humble actor put country first and used a pliant media to create a believable character: an angry Hollywood actor turned antiwar activist and citizen journalist.
There’s a reason we call him America’s greatest actor: We all believed it!
Who else could he have gotten a camera into Saddam’s media-controlled country right before we went to war? Countless lives were saved because Mr. Penn isolated Ba’athist strongholds and made sure that hospitals and nurseries were spared.
In a profession in which reputation is everything, Mr. Penn has been willing to sacrifice his own to ensure the good guys won and that millions of Iraqis were emancipated from unspeakable human rights horrors. The media would have crucified him if he were open to making millions of Iraqis free. So instead he went underground. Deep underground. Times are too complicated for a straightforward hero - so we got an edgy, postmodern one. Cool.
Those who know him well say Mr. Penn is making amends for the sins of his father. Leo Penn was an actor-turned-director who was blacklisted as a communist. Mr. Penn, ashamed that his dad took the side that perpetrated some of the greatest evils of the 20th century, is giving back to his country. He’s thanking us all for his family’s lavish lifestyle in Malibu, California, USA.
Mr. Penn has spent a generation portraying his public self as a narcissistic, petulant, pugilistic and insufferable left-winger, but in fact he is a rational, even-keeled gentleman and a devoted teetotaling devotee of family values.
What makes his secret life all the more remarkable is that he didn’t learn these skills at Langley, Va. - CIA Headquarters USA. He is an auto-didact - a self-taught master of disguise. He’s not just a method actor, but a method spy as well.
Those trips to Venezuela and Cuba weren’t what you think. Who else could have drawn attention to the plight of formerly prosperous nations that have suffered greatly under socialist and communist dictatorial rule?
That famous photo of Mr. Penn in post-Katrina New Orleans in a boat pouring water from a plastic cup? While the rest of the media blamed the federal government for the Category 4 hurricane and its aftermath, that picture made clear that the real damage was done well before the storm hit when billions of dollars were wasted by kleptocrats. The photo artistically conveyed that the hardship was caused by Mother Nature and a corrupt Louisiana Democratic Party machine.
There was also the time that the mighty liberal reported his car stolen - in it were not flowers and granola but a Smith & Wesson and a 9mm Glock handgun. This incident happened not long after his wife, Robin Wright Penn, and their children were threatened by armed carjackers in a separate incident. Nothing better tells the young and cynical that a man’s first obligation is to protect his family - and that there’s a pretty important amendment that comes right after the first one.
Move over, Charlton Heston, the NRA has a cooler-than-thou spokesman.
And why did he take on the movie role of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in California? And why did he deliver that incoherent “commie, homo-loving sons-of-guns” Oscar acceptance speech? Why, to draw attention to the fact that President Obama, “an elegant man president,” holds an anti-gay-marriage stance, of course. Brilliant!
Celebrities like to pay lip service to causes, but rarely do so by putting their lives in peril. And even more rarely do they do so in the name of the United States of America, not on their own behalf. On Memorial Day, while most Americans meditate on the ultimate sacrifice that men and women have made for our country, perhaps we should take a moment to think about Sean Penn, too. In no small way, he helped us win a war.
Andrew Breitbart is the founder of the news Web site www.breitbart.com and is co-author of “Hollywood Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon - The Case Against Celebrity.”