President Obama is a celebrity president. He was produced by Hollywood, down to his Tom Hanks-read 2012 campaign video and his high production value Greek column backgrounds in 2008. He’s a man of little substance who somehow finagled his way to the nation’s highest office – a true rags to riches Hollywood story.
And he’s obsessed with celebrity. He finds the famous endlessly fascinating. At a meet and greet with NBA players in August, the President was almost self effacing when he stated, it’s “very rare I come to an event where I’m like the 5th or 6th most interesting person.” Obama’s been in the room with world leaders, with Nobel Prize winners, with great thinkers. And he says this to NBA players? Some of the least interesting people on the planet?
But for Obama, they’re interesting because they’re famous. Obama has met George Clooney in the White House some seven times. He’s met Beyonce Knowles twice. Jay-Z has been to the White House four times. The list of celebrities who hang with the president is endless. This week, Obama campaigned with Katy Perry, who took enough time out from kissing girls and liking it to stump for The One. And he’s trotted out bubbleheaded celebrity endorsers like Scarlett Johansson, Eva Longoria (who has also visited the White House five times), and Kerry Washington to talk about women’s rights.
But last week, down in the polls, President Obama pulled out all the stops. First, he brought Barbra Streisand out of the woodwork to write a hysterical letter for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:
The Democratic Party urgently needs your help. We’re just weeks from the most important election in a generation and every single thing Democrats like you and I spent a lifetime fighting for is on the line. Republican Super PACs are pounding President Obama and Democratic candidates with millions of dollars of vicious attack ads. And, they could tip the balance of the election for Tea Party extremists.
She concluded the letter with a heartrending rendition of “Memories,” followed by selections from Yentl.
Then Obama called upon author and poet Maya Angelou, who was most recently seen telling the world that under George W. Bush, she had to “apologize for my country when I’m abroad.” Now, she’s sent a letter from the Obama campaign:
It is your job to vote. It is your responsibility, your right, and your privilege. You may be pretty or plain, heavy or thin, gay or straight, poor or rich …. I once debated with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. about whether an African American would ever be elected president. He believed it would happen within the next 40 years at the time – I believed it would never happen within my lifetime. I have never been happier to have been proven wrong.
And since President Barack Obama’s historic election, we’ve moved forward in courageous and beautiful ways. More students can afford college, and more families have access to affordable health insurance. Women have greater opportunities to get equal pay for equal work.
Yet as Rev. King wrote, “All progress is precarious.”
In other words, vote for President Obama because he’s black. And if he’s not re-elected, it will be because America is still racist, unready for the colorblind dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
But Obama wasn’t done yet with Hollywood campaigning. This week, he jetted into Los Angeles to sit down with Jay Leno – even as his State Department continued to stonewall all inquiries about Libya, and his White House admitted that they knew “instantaneously” about allegations that the attacks in Benghazi were premeditated terrorist assaults. On Leno, Obama didn’t discuss Libya. He did discuss his views on rape. “Rape,” he said, “is rape.”
And the crowd cheered.
In Hollywood, the crowd always cheers. That’s why Harvey Weinstein produces films for National Geographic about the killing of Osama bin Laden – and tries to put in scenes with Governor Mitt Romney turning down a potential bin Laden hit. That’s why Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty on the same subject is already previewing in theaters, just before the election.
And that’s one reason Obama will lose.
President Obama’s celebrity persona is one of the least likeable elements about him. And he doesn’t even recognize how off-putting it is. The more he calls in his Hollywood allies, the more he alienates the rest of America.
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