Clinton's Stars Getting Dimmer
by L. Brent Bozell III
In 1992, candidate Bill Clinton barnstormed the country
surrounded (and bankrolled) by the Beautiful People of Hollywood. Barbra
Streisand, Warren Beatty, Michael Douglas, Michael Eisner, Steven Spielberg --
this was the A-list to end all A-lists of celebrity star power. By early 1995,
one would have thought by the way they were avoiding him that Clinton had the
Ebola virus, he looked to be such a loser politically. With Clinton's fortunes
once again reversed, and with the perfect setting for public relations
megaexposure, it's rather surprising that such a relatively meager contingent
of celebrities showed up for the Democratic convention in Chicago.
Yes, Christopher Reeve was there. So, too, was
"registered Republican" Kevin Costner, who proclaimed that "I'm
voting for the President. I think he's going in the right direction and I
think he's doing a good job." Costner was a double whammy for the
Democrats, one of the top movie stars in the business, and a "registered
Republican" to boot. One has to assume the Democrats were happier still
that no one in the press questioned that label, especially since Costner's
been running from it for years. "I registered as a Republican when I was
twenty-one. My parents were Republicans," he told Vanity Fair back in
1992. "But as I've gotten older I've questioned my whole conservative
background ... I think you should be fair about how you treat people."
Billy Baldwin, brother of Alec and equally liberal, was
there, too. The Creative Coalition, on whose board he sits, is a leftist
amalgamation of showbiz heavyweights. They were active at both conventions
with panel discussions on topics like abortion and campaign finance reform.
Baldwin attempted to be everywhere, lending his intellectual firepower to the
day's public policy debates, but when given the national spotlight in an
interview on CNN, he inexplicably focused on one of the burning issues of ...
1989. "People like Jesse Helms and Phil Gramm and Dick Armey and Newt
Gingrich are offended by ... a Mapplethorpe photograph and don't feel the
taxpayers' money should be spent on being offended," he droned, "but
I don't think it's the government's job to define what's art and what's not
art and what's offensive and what's not offensive." (Question: Does this
mean that Baldwin believes taxpayers' money should be spent offending
Aretha Franklin sang the "Star-Spangled Banner,"
Ted Danson rambled on about the environment on CNN, and Edward James Olmos
took to the convention podium only to yell at the delegates for not listening
to his speech about something or other. Candice Bergen, Ron Silver, Richard
Lewis and a handful of other lesser-known celebrities were on the floor from
time to time. But that was about it.
Clinton did have the one entertainment outlet he could rely
on for unabashed fawning. MTV had shown some real improvement in correcting
its unabashedly pro-liberal slant in its news reports during the GOP
convention in San Diego, but in Chicago returned to its old form as fearless
cheerleader for Clinton-Gore.
Anchor Tabitha Soren spent her time lauding the Democrats'
economic plans while demonstrating how little she knows about economics. There
was this gem, straight from the Clinton Who Cares About The Facts Anyway?
handbook: "The president pushed through a deficit-reduction plan which
has since cut the deficit by one-half. The plan raised taxes on the wealthy
and received not one Republican vote."
And then there was this doozy of a question to DNC Chairman
Chris Dodd: "The Democrats are running their campaign on fiscal
responsibility and deficit reduction, while the Republicans have offered tax
cuts. Don't you worry a little bit that voters will say, 'Hey, forget
responsibility, let me take the cash?'"
All in all, though, there seemed to be something missing in
Various news reports had predicted that Robin Williams would
make a major address; he didn't. A Barbra Streisand appearance would have been
a natural here; she was a no-show, too. Perhaps it's that this
administration's earlier failures on issues like gays in the military and
socialized health care have left liberals in Hollywood listless. Maybe
Clinton's post-1994 moderate makeover, with support for the V-chip and welfare
reform -- issues that are pure dynamite within the Hollywood community -- has
soured this powerful entity's support for the administration.
Whatever the reason, Clinton is not presently relying on
this very powerful industry to promote his re-election campaign. And my guess
is that as long as he continues to enjoy a double-digit lead, he'll be happy
to keep the leftists at arm's length. But should the race tighten, and should
Clinton need last-minute reinforcements, this cavalry will be waiting in the
wings. All he needs to do to summon them is move back to the left, back in
sync with them.
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