The Hollywood glitterati are lining up to support the two current stars of the Democratic Party, Senatots Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama who have both began campaigning for their Party's 2008 presidential nomination.
The Washington Post says that the entertainment industry has long been a cornerstone of support for Democrats seeking public office, and Hillary Cliinton, like her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has been one of the chief beneficiaries.
But a newcomer to Hollywood's money trail, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, is headed next month to a fund-raiser hosted by three of the most influential moguls in show business -- Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks.
Invitations went out this week to 700 donors and activists asking them to give the allowed annual maximum of $2,300 per person to meet Obama at a Beverly Hills reception on February 20th.
HEDGING THEIR BETS
The Post says that many of the well-heeled in Los Angeles will write checks to more than one campaign, especially early in the race, as donors hedge their bets, experts said.
"There will be a lot of donations to multiple candidates," Democratic strategist Bill Carrick said.
During the 2004 election cycle, the movie, television and music industries gave a combined $33.1 million to candidates for federal office, most of that to Democrats, according to the non-profit Center for Responsive Politics.
Spielberg plans to help several candidates and has also volunteered to host a fund-raising event for Clinton, according to his political adviser, Andy Spahn.
Spahn added that Spielberg will settle eventually on a single candidate, as will many donors. While Katzenberg has endorsed Obama, Geffen has not made public his support for any single candidate.
Thomas Frank, the author of What's the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America wrote an article for the Financial Times on the Democratic Convention in 2004, titled: At the Democratic Dream Factory.
In his book, Frank refers to what he calls the 'thirty-year backlash' -- the populist revolt against a supposedly liberal establishment. The high point of that backlash is the Republican Party's success in building the most unnatural of alliances: between blue-collar Midwesterners and Wall Street business interests, workers and bosses, populists and right-wingers. In asking 'what's the matter with Kansas?' -- how a place famous for its radicalism became one of the most conservative states in the union -- Frank, a native Kansan and onetime Republican, seeks to answer some broader American riddles: Why do so many of Americans vote against their own economic interests? Where's the outrage at corporate manipulators? And whatever happened to middle-American progressivism?
Frank answers them by examining pop conservatism -- the bestsellers, the radio talk shows, the vicious political combat -- and showing how America's long culture wars have left it with an electorate far more concerned with their leaders' 'values' and down-home qualities than with their stands on hard questions of policy.
In his Financial Times article, Frank recounted how as a journalist, he attended a party at Boston's Ritz-Carlton Hotel that was sponsored by a film industry lobby group. The journalists were not allowed to mingle with the guests because of the presence of celebrities. The party was a transplanted bit of California with its accompanying social hierarchy and the minor Hollywood figures were the ones illuminated by portable spotlights and talking into cameras.
Frank wrote in the FT that there is 'a vision of liberals as a ruling elite, a collection of snobs...that believes it is more sophisticated than average people...When celebrities stump for their candidate of choice, the ones they support are usually Democrats...Somehow, this glitzy world of risqué dresses and velvet ropes has the opposite effect on much of the public. They hate it and hate everything Hollywood has come to stand for.
After all, Hollywood stars are the closest thing America has to aristocracy and being instructed by psuedo-rebellious aristocrats (as they mingle with millionaire lobbyists) cannot help but rub people up the wrong way. What the stars' Democratic allegiance shows to this part of the public is not the glamour of Democratic candidates but their shallowness and insufferable moral superiority; the distance of those candidates from their historical base of average Americans. For them, Hollywood's superficial leftism only validates the Republicans to be the party of the common man.'
Frank recounted how he got rid of his journalist dog tag and joined the great and good. The special guest Senator John Breaux mounted the podium and spoke of cracking down on illegal copying, thereby ensuring that 'creative' people are 'justifiably compensated.' Cameras clicked for a shot of Breaux sporting a boyish grin together with a member of an acting family, known as 'the Baldwin,' who displayed a 'practiced sullenness.' A woman in a headset barked: 'C'mon celebrities' and the exalted ones were ushered towards the elevators.
It could be President Clinton or President Obama at 12 noon on Jan 20, 2009 but either way, the Hollywood glitterati are not supporting anything that will change its status as the overpaid, conspicuous consumers of America.
It must be fun to be on a winning side and easier work for the fading stars as they vie to become Unicef Humanitarian Ambassadors!