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A Moveable Feast
by Aaron Hanscom
29 April 2003

Bill O'Reilly asked Janeane Garofalo, “Do you think that George W. Bush is more of a danger to this world than Saddam?”  “Equal,” she reasonably assured him. 

Aaron Hanscom


If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” -- Ernest Hemingway
 
Although Hemingway- a venerable gourmand- was describing one of the culinary capitals of the world in A Moveable Feast, Papa’s conjured banquet undoubtedly refers to his nostalgia for the most innocent and idyllic time in his life, which had vanished forever.  Many criticizers of President Bush are currently caught up in similar yearnings.  Convinced that their view of the world is infinitely superior to his, they are incapable of facing the facts and letting go of beliefs that have been proven wrong.

Hollywood offers us the prime example of this type of delusion.  A deep loathing for the President and a longing for the good old days of his predecessor -- when military action was “hip” and not tainted by the goal of national security -- catapulted Janeane Garofalo from comedienne to sanctimonious activist.  Unfortunately for Ms. Garofalo, the apex of her criticism took place in The No-Spin Zone where Bill O'Reilly was quickly able to expose her moral relativism.  “Do you think that George W. Bush is more of a danger to this world than Saddam?” he asked her.  She answered (I’ll assume, for her sake, without thinking), “I would say he is a danger in a different way and I’ll tell you why.”  O'Reilly wouldn’t let her spin, however, and repeated the question once again.  “Equal,” she reasonably assured him.  The rest of the interview was filled with the customary dire predictions for an Iraq invasion that logically follow the premise that George W. Bush is in fact a monster.  O'Reilly respectfully allowed her time to revel in this fabricated world (the one Michael Moore also inhabits) before issuing his now famous challenge:

O'Reilly:  If you are wrong, all right, and if the United States -- and they will, this is going to happen -- goes in, liberates Iraq [with] people in the streets, American flags, hugging our soldiers, all right, we find all kinds of bad, bad stuff, all right, in Iraq, you gonna apologize to George W. Bush?

Garofalo:  I would be so willing to say, “I’m sorry.”  I hope to God that I can be made a buffoon of, that people will say, “You were wrong, you were a fatalist.” And I will go to the White House on my knees on cut glass and say, “Hey, you and Thomas Friedman were right…I shouldn’t have doubted you.  But I think that is preposterous.”


Preposterous, indeed. So preposterous, in fact, that Ms. Garofalo has been MIA (an attempt to add to the casualty list of this war, perhaps?) since the liberation of Iraq.

Over at the New York Times, editorial writers aren’t able to disappear from the spotlight as easily.  This doesn’t mean they have reconsidered their fanciful notions.  On October 4, 2002 Nicholas D. Kristof wrote, “Iraqis hate the United States government even more than they hate Saddam, and they are even more distrustful of American’s intentions than Saddam’s…[I]f President Bush thinks our invasion and occupation will go smoothly because Iraqis will welcome us, then [he] is deluding himself.”  Mr. Kristof may indeed hate President Bush more than Saddam, but the Iraqi people showed contrary feelings when they toppled Saddam’s statues and kissed photos of President Bush.

How much space did Mr. Kristof give in his column to describing these joyous celebrations of freedom?  About a sentence.  He wrote from Basra, “When people saw me pull out my camera, they began cheering and whacking Saddam's face. "Thank you, Mr. Bush," one called out in English, and it was delicious to watch this celebration of newfound freedom.”  The point of this post-liberation article, however, was the same as that of his pre-liberation articles: to show how evil the Bush administration is.  Thus, Mr. Kristof left no time for the reader to get a feel for the Iraqis’ celebration and continued, “Yet the Iraqis near the bank had finished celebrating, and enveloped my car to complain furiously about the lack of electricity and drinking water. For a few minutes, I was afraid they were going to demonstrate their anger by rocking my car and turning it over.”  See what happens, Mr. Kristof seems to say, when the Americans can't provide electricity and drinking water to the Iraqi people in the time it takes me to write this article?   George W. Bush can do no right in Mr. Kristof’s mind, so any positive effect arising from the President’s actions is simply viewed as an unimportant aberration.  

There were always reasonable and intelligent arguments against waging war in Iraq, and many questions still remain about the best way to set the country on a path to democracy.  Constructive criticism, however, can only come when it is separated from a visceral hatred of President Bush.  If they are unable to do this, many of his detractors might feel more comfortable seeking their moveable feast where Hemingway found his. In Paris.



Aaron is a teacher in South Central Los Angeles. He has a degree in economics from UC San Diego. His articles have appeared on CommonConservative.com, BushCountry.org, CaptoVeritas.com and HourEleven.com.
 

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