Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Hanoi Jane Backs Barack

Should He Denounce Her or Let This Fizzle Out?

Here's how the LA Times described the incident in their blog section:

Jane Fonda endorses Barack Obama; there goes his crossover vote

Jane Fonda, the actress and ardent anti-Vietnam War advocate who visited North Vietnam during those hostilities, has endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president.

Actress and anti-war advocate Jane Fonda at a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft battery in June 1972 singing an anti-war song with soldiers during her visit to North Vietnam in the Vietnam war has just endorsed Democrat Barack Obama of Illinois for president

There were no formal ceremonies for the endorsement. In fact, the Obama campaign may just be learning about the actress's approval now as word spreads like lit gunpowder via the Internet.

Fonda was eating out last night and exited the restaurant, ignoring as celebrities often do the assembled press contingent.

But a video camera was rolling as she approached the street and someone, perhaps just trying to get her to turn around for a picture, shouted out at her back, "Who are you going to vote for?"

There was a moment of silence. Then, the actress did turn around toward the cameras, paused and with a smile said simply, "Obama!" Then she got into a car and drove away.

Does it seem like the story doesn't quite add up to the headline? Here's the actual clip of the exchange.

That's right, the reporters baited her into who she was supporting, and she simply answered with his name, without explanation. Not much of an endorsement.

So what's the big deal? Why should Obama bring any more attention to this when so few even know it happened?

Simple answer: He shouldn't, yet.

Why should he in the future? The Internet.

If this thing explodes over the web (first place I heard about it was on the blog lines), and as is the trend, onto the cable news cycles, he'll be faced with the prospect of being depicted as accepting, even through silence, the endorsement of a woman who helped make POWs, including his probable general election opponent, John McCain, lives a living hell and who promptly defamed them time and time again.

From Snopes:

To add insult to injury, when American POWs finally began to return home (some of them having been held captive for up to nine years) and describe the tortures they had endured at the hands of the North Vietnamese, Jane Fonda quickly told the country that they should "not hail the POWs as heroes, because they are hypocrites and liars." Fonda said the idea that the POWs she had met in Vietnam had been tortured was "laughable," claiming: "These were not men who had been tortured. These were not men who had been starved. These were not men who had been brainwashed." The POWs who said they had been tortured were "exaggerating, probably for their own self-interest," she asserted. She told audiences that "Never in the history of the United States have POWs come home looking like football players. These football players are no more heroes than Custer was. They're military careerists and professional killers" who are "trying to make themselves look self-righteous, but they are war criminals according to the law."

That's on top of her propaganda tours of North Vietnam in which she was famously photographed manning an Anti-Aircraft gun and probably came the closest of anyone since WWII to the fine line between treason and dissenting free speech.

If you want controversial figure, Reverend Wright, eat your heart out. It's one thing to hate America, it's quite another to aid its enemies during a time of war and then rip on some of the most respected men to ever wear the uniform.

How is this Obama's fault? It isn't. But the appearance it creates will hurt him if it gets heavy coverage and he doesn't quickly and clearly distance himself from her, since that will create the appearance that her actions didn't bother him. At that point, it will be his fault, not her actions, but reaffirming what many thought about the Reverend Wright incident: that he's too inexperienced to handle a presidential campaign, let alone the office.

If it all blows over, no worries. If it doesn't, he shouldn't repeat his quasi-denunciation of Wright. Hanoi Jane is one of the most despised figures among military members as well as many of their families. In this race especially though, with Obama facing one of the POWs she trashed, he might be best off telling the press that she literally disgusts him and that her failure to apologize for more than posing in a picture is sickening.

I doubt that would ever happen, but that's what he, heck, everybody should do. It should have been said by everyone a long time ago. Why she still has a career is baffling. She should have been deported to communist Vietnam to rot, but that's just my opinion.

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