Hollywood, same-sex marriages, Clooney, Liberal money...
Published on June 06, 2012
While conservatives love to attack Obama for his Hollywood ties, and accuse him of being out of touch with average Americans (like guys who go by Joe and run plumbing businesses), let's not forget that Hollywoodland isn't totally Democratland. Indeed, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mr. Planet Hollywood, was California's recent governor, and let us never forget that Ronald Reagan, the most beloved Republican of them all was a complete movie star before landing the exciting roles of being a Republican governor, and ultimately President. Most recently, Mitt Romney has gotten quite cozy with Donald Trump, and while Mr. Trump may not technically be a Hollywood star, he kind of technically is... He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is more known for firing celebrities, and his wild antics on TV than his real estate investments.
I do think, however, Democrats suffer more when associating too closely with celebrities than conservatives do, whether or not it's fair. Interestingly, despite his recent $15 million Obama fundraiser held at his posh LA estate, George Clooney was actually quite careful during Obama's first campaign not to appear too close to the candidate. However, since then, Clooney has built a growing, impressive political resume in his own right, taking on issues like the crises in Darfur and Sudan. I think many now see him as a legitimate political figure, and more than a typical actor' Perhaps even as potential candidate for office of some sort. Same goes for Angelina Jolie, widely respected for her extensive work with the UN.
So then, what's wrong with associating with Hollywood if the stars know their stuff? It comes down to the gaudiness, the red carpets, and the fanciness that isn't hidden, but is rather shown off and plastered on the covers of tabloids across the country. It would seem relatively evident that a pretty large number of actors are liberal, in the same way that a pretty large number of Wall Street investors are conservative, but the difference is that when Romney visits New York, you don't see the heavy-hitters. You don't get photos of the lavish parties, the private planes, helicopters, limos, and ice sculptures of exotic animals. We don't see it, and so when Romney comes out wearing his awkwardly cut jeans and tries to look somewhat "folksy" it seems somewhat believable' Somewhat.
However when Obama pals around with the stars it makes headlines, it gets press, and those stars get photographed, seen on the big screen, and so it becomes increasingly apparent to working class voters that they're not a part of that world. No one running for President really associates much with "average folks" at that stage, but the name of the game is pretending that you do. That's why you kiss a million babies, shake every hand that flies your way, and eat every hot dog at every state fair, every time.
One of the biggest mistakes Obama can make is associating too closely with Hollywood right now, especially after becoming the first US President to support same-sex marriage. This is a big step forward for the LGBT movement, and is a bold move for the President to have made, but if it looks like it was nothing more than a political calculation it could backfire rather than inspire. He must make it clear he made this decision for average Americans, not to impress Hollywood elites, and raise some quick cash.
Obama's original appeal was that he was an unknown. He was the guy that wasn't connected. New to the game, out of the loop. That's what America wanted, and got excited about. McCain's attempts to paint him as an out of touch celebrity failed, because people didn't see him as a celebrity in the same way people see jaded politicians, rock stars, or actors. They saw him as a Susan Boyle of sorts - someone who had beaten the odds and made his way to the top. Not that he looks anything like Susan Boyle, or sounds, or acts like her, but he was the underdog. We were rooting for him, and in his celebrity it felt like we became a celebrity. Of course, that's really not true, Obama was quite well-educated, connected, and shrewdly running to the top for years, but who cares about the facts, we're talking appearances here, and when Obama ran in 2008 it looked like we were electing a real average American for once, not just a politician. Now, jump to 2012. He's been in office, his hair has gone gray illogically fast. He oversaw the killing of Bin Laden, the bank bailouts, the healthcare reform bill, had a big standoff with Republicans, but gave them their tax cuts after all, and signed a mysterious and questionable defense bill. He grew up so fast. To Americans he is no longer the young, energetic, enthusiastic beacon of hope, but a politician, who plays the game just like the rest of them, and it's a game we feel like we're not allowed to play.