Kathleen Parker

Like millions of Americans, I heaved a sigh of relief upon reading that Jane Fonda finally is going to speak out against the war in Iraq. Where has she been?

On book tour promoting her autobiography-in-progress, "My Life So Far." We might have guessed a real-time sequel was in the offing.

Fonda says that, having met some veterans and their families while on tour, she's decided to break her silence. "I've decided I'm coming out," she told an audience in Santa Fe, N.M. "I have not taken a stand on any war since Vietnam. I carry a lot of baggage from that."

That baggage includes the now infamous photo of Fonda in 1972 sitting atop a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun while on a tour of that country. Many Vietnam vets do not forgive Fonda for what they view as treason and for making their lives harder, especially prisoners of war who were tortured in her name. To her limited credit, Fonda has apologized.

Still, her newest foray into antiwar territory feels like a cartoonish parody of her former self. Jane Fonda playing Jane Fonda. In her newest version of Me, Myself and I, Fonda will segue from book tour to antiwar tour via a cross-country trip on a bus that runs on vegetable oil. Slick. But is it canola?

Fonda is mum on details but promises "it's going to be pretty exciting." One can hardly wait. Suddenly, I find myself dreaming of a time when the Rolling Stones do not do one more tour, and Jane Fonda does not find her groove again.

Ending the war is surely the goal of any sane person, but what precisely would Jane Fonda and others against the war have us do? Withdrawing now isn't an option. Losing the war isn't an option. Handing Iraq to terrorists isn't an option. Even those opposed to invading Iraq concede that much.

So what is the point of an antiwar, vegetable oil bus tour? After this trip, Fonda may need a small island to accommodate the baggage she'll accrue.

Meanwhile, there is serious work to do in Iraq, especially as a new constitution is being crafted, the success of which will hasten our ability to withdraw successfully. If Fonda and other celebrities want to attach their names to something constructive, they might join the Independent Women's Forum (iwf.org) in trying to advance the status of women in Iraq and, ultimately, throughout the Middle East.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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