WASHINGTON – Amidst rehearsal for her nine-song set at this weekend's Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fund-raiser, Barbra Streisand has written House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt urging him to "go on the offensive" on the Iraq issue.
In a one-page confidential memo, the on-again, off-again singer, actor, director, and activist said through her confidante and political guru Margery Tabankin that she "is not surprised to see the Bush administration evoke strong rhetoric about Democrats caring more about their own 'special interests' than protecting the security of the country.
"Of course, the Republicans will say anything they need to in order to accomplish their own political agenda," Tabankin wrote.
Tabankin also wrote that "Barbra feels that the Democratic leadership must not continue to take this lying down."
The memo, dated Wednesday, came on the same day that Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle lambasted President Bush for allegedly politicizing the debate over national security by saying, "Democrats are not interested in the security of the American people."
In fact, Daschle, D-S.D., was quoting The Washington Post's version of the president's comments at a New Jersey GOP fund-raiser. In fact, the president was speaking at the time about the homeland security bill that is stuck in the Senate over workers' rights for employees at the new Cabinet-level department being created.
Bush said at that Monday event that the House has passed the homeland security bill, "but the Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people."
While he never mentioned Democrats specifically, and later said that members of both parties are trying to get the bill finished, on Thursday the president toned down his comments even further, saying that an Iraq resolution was near passage because of the work of concerned members.
"The security of the country is a commitment of both political parties and the responsibility of both elected branches of government," the president said Thursday. "We are moving toward a strong resolution. And all of us, and many others in Congress, are united in our determination to confront an urgent threat to America."
However, that wasn't good enough for Daschle -- he said Thursday that he could not guarantee that a vote on an Iraq resolution giving the president "all means that he determines to be appropriate," including use of force, to deal with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein would come up next week as previously planned.
It also wasn't good enough for Streisand.
"While there are serious problems with Iraq and Saddam Hussein, Barbra feels that we can't let this issue become a distraction from the country's domestic problems and the president's inability to fully dismantle the Al Qaeda network," the memo reads. "After all, Saddam Hussein did not bomb the World Trade Center."
Funny Girl Streisand has long been an outspoken critic of Republicans, dating back at least to former President Clinton's impeachment trial. In April 2001, Streisand fired off a memo to the Democratic leadership telling them to stop being so passive toward Bush, whom she charged with stealing the presidency.
In it, she described Democrats as "paralyzed, demoralized and depressed," said Americans "are not sufficiently informed to protect their own self-interests" and the public "is being fooled by Bush."
At the time of that memo, she also had a strategy session at her California estate with other Hollywood liberals, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and Gephardt.
As to Wednesday's memo, Gephardt communications director Erik Smith responded by quoting one of Streisand's hallmark songs.
"We take advice from many people," Smith said. "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world."