I don’t rejoice in anyone’s death, but it may be a good thing that Marlon Brando met the Great Godfather in the Sky a few months ago. It means that if John F. Kerry wins this November election, he won’t be seeking Brando’s advice on the war in Iraq. Turns out that during the 1980s Brando operated as a kind of South Seas Condoleezza Rice to Sen. Kerry on what to do (votewise, presumably) about the Nicaraguan contras fighting the Marxist Sandinista regime that ran Nicaragua back then. In an upcoming article in the September issue of GQ magazine, Kerry tells GQ’s deputy editor Michael Hainey that not only were he and Brando Massachusetts-to-Tahiti phone pals back then but that Kerry actually followed some of the booze-pickled old actor’s advice! Here’s what PR Newswire reports about the GQ piece:
“Kerry tells Hainey that he had a telephone relationship with Marlon Brando in 1985 and 1986, during the contras: ‘He took a huge interest in it. And he would call me. He was always asking questions. And he’d give me advice. I took his advice on a couple of angles. A couple of points.'”
This is amazing! Kerry not only spent Christmas in Cambodia but he got his foreign-policy counsel from another up-the-jungle-river figure, Col. Walter E. Kurtz of Apocalypse Now! Fortunately, Mistah Kurtz, he dead–or he might be on the horn come January advising our new prez to install Michael Moore as secretary of defense. James Lileks (scroll down past the hilarious fashion photos) flagged me to the PR Newswire item, and he’s got this to say:
“Perhaps the article has the details, and we will learn that Kerry based his pro-Sandinista policies on Mr. Brando’s keen grasp of Central American political dynamics. After all, Mr. Brando appeared, dimly, in a movie about a war set in a hot place with many broad-leafed plants, which gave him keen insights on the geopolitical struggle that temporarily manifested itself in Nicaragua.”
Back in the 1980s, you might recall, nearly all our intellectual and arty types couldn’t get enough of the poet/dictator/one-man Soviet satellite Daniel Ortega and his Sandinistas, and they deemed quite outre the contras, the brave freedom fighters who had the politically incorrect gall to oppose the great people’s revolution that Ortega was supposed to be putting into place. These same intellectuals were visibly shocked when the people of Nicaragua, offered free elections for the first time in 1990, voted to send the Sandinistas packing. Meanwhile, thanks to Kerry and his ilk, Congress squelched President Reagan’s efforts to approve any significant aid to the contras. Here (thanks to Lileks) is the Boston Globe’s report on Kerry’s thick-as-thieves relationship with the Ortega gang:
“On April 18, 1985, Kerry and Harkin, reporters in tow, flew to Managua to meet with top Sandinista officials. A congressional vote on Reagan’s request for aid to the contras was five days away. And the pair of senators hoped their efforts could revive stalled peace negotiations between the United States and the Sandinistas.
“‘My generation, a lot of us, grew up with the phrase “give peace a chance,” as part of a song that captured a lot of people’s imagination,’ Kerry would soon tell his Senate colleagues. ‘I hope that the president of the United States will give peace a chance.'”
And here is how Accuracy in Media reports the incident:
“Like Neville Chamberlain waving a printed statement hailing ‘peace for our time’ with Hitler, Kerry brought back a peace proposal to derail Reagan’s request for Contra aid.
“But there was a problem, the Globe reporters conceded: ‘In the document Kerry delivered, Ortega reaffirmed the “non-aligned nature” of the Nicaraguan revolution, despite the country’s ties to the Soviet Union and Cuba. And, in response to promises that civil liberties would be restored, the State Department said Ortega had extended for six months the government’s repressive state of emergency — the day after meeting with Harkin and Kerry.
“Then, one day after Tip O’Neill’s House of Representatives rejected the Reagan aid request for the contras, Ortega ‘boarded an Aeroflot jet to Moscow to collect a $200 million loan.’ Kerry said that he was ‘as mad as anyone’ that Ortega went to Moscow. But Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd said, ‘Where did my colleagues think he was going to go? Disney World? The man is a Marxist.'”
As Lileks comments:
“[I]f Reagan had consulted with Sylvester Stallone for advice in defeating the Soviets, this would be bedrock political lore. Gonzo called Rambo! Livin’ in a frickin’ dream world, man! It’s all Hollywood to him! Kerry takes advice from an addled sun-basted jabba who may be the only man capable of mumbling in a falsetto, and we’re not supposed to laugh? Maybe the interview has more details; perhaps I’m being unfair. But if the candidate advanced this anecdote to pump himself up (Brando called me; naturally I paid heed, where appropriate) it’s instructive. When I read that a candidate for the highest office in the land took Brando’s call to discuss the contras, I want to see the line ‘Kerry grinned, and rolled his eyes.’ Because, you know, Brando’s an actor. It’s like Bush saying he took a call from Tom Selleck, who had recently played Ike and had some keen insights on the nature of warfare.”