Monday, January 17, 2005

Barbara Walters AmBushes the First Lady

Warning: The following post is a rant in which I lost my temper. If you are easily offended by coarse language, or would be hurt specifically by my use of it, please skip this post. Consider yourself warned.

On Friday, The Feared Redhead and I caught an early movie (Elektra. Let me advise you, gentlemen. If your wife insists that you take her to a movie in which Jennifer Garner runs around in a red leather bustier kicking arse, DO NO QUESTION HER), then came home well before bedtime, so we decided to turn on the idiot box for a while. What a prophetic nickname for the TV. I caught part of Barbara Walters' interview with President and Mrs. Bush. I managed to tolerate her attitude until she directed a question to Mrs. Bush regarding the War in Iraq. She had just discussed the war with the President, then turned to Laura. I'll paraphrase the question, because I don't recall it word for word, but this is essentially what she said:

Mrs. Bush, you visit the wounded at military hospitals, many of whom have lost limbs, and you also meet with the families of the dead and wounded. I have to ask this. A lot of Americans don't care about Iraq. When you talk to those men and their families, is it enough consolation to tell them, "There will be Democracy in Iraq?"

WHAT THE FUCK? No, I mean really, WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK??????!!!!!!! How the hell DARE you ask that? Barbara, you idiot!!!!!

I was completely blown away by the self-centered, isolationist, asinine GALL needed to ask such a question! I mean, really! Do you really mean that, Barbara? Do you really mean to say "Many Americans don't give a rat's ass about a bunch of brownskinned people over on the other side of the world, and couldn't care less as to whether or not they are now free from the predations of a tinhorn megalomaniac"? Because that's EXACTLY how ethnocentric and isolationist you sounded.

Let's be perfectly clear here. In asking that question, Walters wasn't questioning the likelihood of success in bringing Democracy to Iraq. That, while I might disagree with her, is open to debate. No, she skipped right past that issue to asking if it was a worthy end at ALL?

Well hell, Babs, that's an interesting question. What do you think? Was it enough consolation to the dead and maimed of the Civil War that all those slaves were free? I mean, in 1860, many Americans didn't care about "the negroes". Was it worth it, President Lincoln? Or what about all those Jews in Europe? Antisemitism was quite common in America and in Europe in the first half of the Twentieth Century. Would you have asked Eleanor Roosevelt if it was "enough consolation" to the families of World War II dead that the death camps were no longer running?

First of all, it's not the job of the First Lady to TELL ANYONE what constitutes "Enough consolation". The woman was performing a gracious act by meeting with and consoling these people. She was expression compassion and gratitude on behalf of all of us. She WASN'T there to justify her husband's policies. She was showing class, something you seem to have forgotten how to do, since you obviously had to politicize something very personal.

But furthermore, it galls me that you would belittle the importance of Democracy, regardless of where it occurs. Because it's only IRAQI freedom, it's not as important as AMERICAN freedom, is that it? Let's set aside for a moment the argument that Iraqi freedom is strategically beneficial to the United States. Let's just address this assumption that the only freedom worth fighting for is your own. Gee, Babs, aren't you glad that our history is full of men and women who DIDN'T feel that way? Every soldier who died in the Revolution, in the Civil War, in World War Two, in every conflict of liberation that the United States has ever fought, understood that freedom was so precious, so good, so RIGHT, that it was worth it to fight not only for your own freedom, but for that of your children, and your neighbors. That is why the signers of the declaration pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. And it's a good thing we've had such folk in our history. Not everyone is capable of fighting for their own freedom, but we can enjoy freedom because someone else could and would and did. We are made and kept free, as John Stuart Mill said, by the exertion of better men than ourselves.

It was a dirty trick, Barbara, mean-spiritedness couched so ardently and faux-compassionately. And it was a stupid question to ask. You should be ashamed of yourself. Sheri O'Teri nailed it when she portrayed you on SNL, and ended the skit with the words, "I'm Barbara Walters, and I was once a respected journalist."

No more.