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Arnie silent on star wars debate

Los Angeles, March 7 (Reuters): Where is Arnold Schwarzenegger when President Bush needs him'

The movie action hero and committed Republican is so far absent in the “star wars” debate over an impending war against Iraq, reflecting what celebrity pundits say is a curious silence on the part of many Hollywood conservatives.

While tinsel town liberals have come out in force to denounce any war against Iraq, only a handful of household names have so far spoken up in support of President George W. Bush’s Iraq policy.

Hollywood publicist Michael Levine, who last month launched a French wine boycott on behalf of a number of big stars — but declined to name them — said he was disappointed but not surprised at the silence.

“Hollywood is a very liberal town. Declaring yourself a conservative in Hollywood would be like declaring yourself a meat-eater at a vegetarian convention,” Levine said.

Leading the conservative cavalry is Law and Order actor Fred Thompson, a former Republican US senator from Tennessee, fronting a 30-second TV commercial backing Bush aired for the first time in Washington and New York this week.

“Thank goodness we have a President with the courage to protect our country,” he says in the ad, paid for by the group Citizens United.

Bruce Willis, 47, promoting a new war movie this month in which he plays a navy special operations commander, told reporters he had thought about signing up for the real action, but friends told him he was too old.

Singer Kid Rock mouthed some characteristic expletives about “slitting the throat” of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, and action film hero Jean Claude van Damme damned the anti-war Hollywood crowd as “part of the axis of ignorance.”

But Terminator star Schwarzenegger, who has toyed with running for California governor as a Republican, has taken no part in the celebrity debate over Iraq that has infuriated middle Americans and prompted talk of boycotts and blacklists. “We have been asked by several people, but we don’t have any official comment. There is no official statement,” Schwarzenegger’s publicist said.

Clint Eastwood, a former mayor of the California seaside city of Carmel, has also been reluctant to publicly side with Bush. Harrison Ford this week dissociated himself from media reports that he was backing Bush, saying he was “appalled by the idea” that anyone might think he supports war.

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