aneane Garofalo the former cast member for Saturday Night Live and The Larry Sanders Show says there are "32 million members" in her group, Win Without War. She said so on Fox News Sunday and on CNN and, considering the glibness with which she says it, I assume she's said it elsewhere.
I also assume it must be a lie.
The American Association of Retired Persons, by way of illustration, has spent decades and tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars to get 35 million members, and even they had to cut some serious corners and give out some serious perks to get that number. And yet, Win Without War was created less than three months ago. So, I suspect that there are fewer than 32 million people who would say, "I'm a member of Win Without War." Actually, I suspect that far, far fewer than 32 million people have even heard of Win Without War.
From what I can tell from their website, Win Without War is a coalition of organizations which claims 32 million supporters, members, fellow travelers, and the like. Though this is only a hunch. Garofalo could mean that WWW speaks for the 32 million people opposed to an invasion of Iraq, as reflected in some unspecified public-opinion polls. If this is the case, then virtually any group can claim tens of millions of "members" based on public-opinion polls and for all I know, many of them do exactly that. But there's a big difference between membership in an organization and loosey-goosey agreement with some of that organization's goals. Unless, of course, you think the Sierra Club has, mmmm, 100 million or so members. I would love it if National Review could claim more than 100 million subscribers just because there are 100 million or so conservatives out there.
I don't mean to belabor this point. All I'm trying to do is take Janeane Garofolo seriously and that leads me to conclude she's either lying, propagandizing, or just plain stupid.
I don't think she's stupid.
In fact, I think she's quite bright. She certainly does better than most antiwar opponents, in and out of the Democratic party, when it comes to explaining why she's against an invasion of Iraq (which should count as a scandal for the Democratic party). And while I am a huge critic literally and figuratively of celebrity activists, I don't necessarily think they're all idiots. Though even the smart ones are often "useful idiots," to borrow Lenin's phrase for the Western liberals who defended the Soviet Union.
In a sense, Garofolo shares some similarities with President Bush. Her critics assume she must be dumb because she's an entertainer joining a fashionable Hollywood cause. Bush's critics think he must be dumb because he's a Republican and because he's not particularly eloquent off-the-cuff. Both of them get misunderestimated as the president might say.
Ms. Garofolo even has a theory about this. She told the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz that the war-mongering media establishment actually counts on the widespread perception that actors are idjits in order to foment war fever, and hence boost their ratings and readership. "They have actors on so they can marginalize the movement," she told Kurtz. "It's much easier to toss it off as some bizarre, unintelligent special-interest group. If you're an actor who is pro-war, you're a hero. If you're an actor who's against the war, you're suspect. You must have a weird angle or you just hate George Bush."
But, as this cocktail-party Marxism illustrates, you can be sharp and still have bone-bendingly stupid ideas about the world (yes, I just made up the word "bone-bendingly"). And this cuts both ways. For example, I'm sure that even if the antiwar Left could be convinced that the president is in fact a very smart man, they would still believe invading Iraq is a stupid idea.
So let us put aside the question of the messenger and take a look at Garofalo's message. On a recent edition of Fox News Sunday, Tony Snow asked her about Saddam Hussein: "Has he been a mass murderer? She responded, "Yes, there's been a lot of people who have been mass murderers. And I think Turkey also, who we've been negotiating with, has one of the worst human-rights records in the world. Also, the sanctions, you could say, have been responsible for mass murder."
He asked, "Do you think he is eager to obtain weapons of mass destruction?" She responded, "Yes, I think lots of people are eager to obtain weapons of mass destruction."
Sigh. This is the "Everybody does it" argument. According to this logic, we shouldn't stop any one serial killer if we aren't willing to stop all of them. The fact that Saddam has orchestrated the deaths of hundreds of thousands and tortured countless of his own subjects cannot be used to justify removing him from power, because we don't use it to justify removing, say, the democratically elected government of Turkey. In short, Garofalo would rather America be consistently wrong than inconsistently right.
Garofalo recently wondered, "How is it that this debate has been twisted on its head, that somehow those that advocate peace and diplomacy are anti-American?" Um, maybe it has something to do with the fact that the protesters i.e., "members" of Win Without War" Ms. Garofalo praises are almost always carrying signs like this or this or this. The media-industrial complex didn't ask these protesters to make signs comparing Bush to Hitler. That's what they believe. Sure, it may be unfair to paint the whole antiwar movement as anti-American I certainly think it's unfair. But that impression was fostered by the antiwar folks, not cut from whole cloth by the White House.
But don't tell that to Garofalo. "This is a manufactured conflict for the sake of geopolitical dominance in the area," she told Howard Kurtz recently. And: "There is no evidence of weapons of mass destruction. You never even get that idea floated in the mainstream media. If you bring it up, they hate the messenger. You've ruined everyone's good time."
No, actually, you just give people a headache. It seems Ms. Garofalo believes there is no evidence of weapons of mass destruction not so much because Saddam isn't hiding them, as because they never existed in the first place. To my knowledge, not even the French hold this position. Only one name-brand expert I can think of says this: Scott Ritter. And that's the Scott Ritter of 2003, the one who took Iraqi money and who takes teenaged girls out for Happy Meals. In 1998 he wrote in The New Republic:
<blockquote>Even today, Iraq is not nearly disarmed. Based on highly credible intelligence, UNSCOM [the U.N. weapons inspectors] suspects that Iraq still has biological agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin, and clostridium perfringens in sufficient quantity to fill several dozen bombs and ballistic missile warheads, as well as the means to continue manufacturing these deadly agents. Iraq probably retains several tons of the highly toxic VX substance, as well as sarin nerve gas and mustard gas. This agent is stored in artillery shells, bombs, and ballistic missile warheads. And Iraq retains significant dual-use industrial infrastructure that can be used to rapidly reconstitute large-scale chemical weapons production.</blockquote>
The only thing that's changed is Ritter's story. There's no evidence that Saddam has disarmed since 1998, and virtually every credible opponent of war has at least conceded that there is good reason to think Saddam still has WMD. It's just that they think that stuff can be gotten at through inspectors, without war. But Ms. Garofalo thinks there's no use for war whatsoever. On Fox News, anchor Brian Kilmeade asked her if she thought there would be inspectors in there if there were not 150,000 troops "breathing down his neck." She responded, "Yes, I do think there would be inspectors in there."
Well, that's funny. Saddam kicked the inspectors out in 1998, and I don't think even Scott Ritter and Tariq Aziz would concede that the inspectors are in Iraq because we are threatening war.
But Ms. Garofalo's 32-million-member-strong movement is called "Win Without War," and it would hardly be convenient if war were helping us win, even slightly. In other words, she comes from the "give peace a chance" school, which is congenitally incapable of seeing that peace is always given a chance right up to the moment war starts.
We've given Saddam more than a decade of chances for peace, with 17 U.N. resolutions. We've tried to win without war. But Ms. Garofalo doesn't see that, because she thinks she's the first person to even suggest such a thing. If people could just see how simple it is to win without war, everything would be fine. One can almost see FDR with his Cabinet. Pearl Harbor in smoking ruins. He's drafting his declaration of war when, all of a sudden, Eleanor bursts in with a brilliant suggestion: "Franklin, darling. Let's win without war!"
"'Win without war?' My God, Stimson, what am I paying you for? Ellie, darling, that's gold! Sheer gold. We can win without war!"
It almost sounds like a perfect Saturday Night Live skit. Maybe Garofalo should go back to her old job and try it out.