Friday, March 21, 2008

Political Superstar: Obama Energizes the Hollywood Base

While the Democratic Party is obviously fractured over the Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama nomination battle, and while Obama's Wright controversy has clearly damaged the Illinois Senator in public opinion, there's some evidence that Obama's Philadelphia speech on race and religion has energized the left-wing base, at least in Hollywood, a bastion of limosine liberals.

Tina Daunt,
at the Los Angeles Times, has the story:

CAREER disasters (which usually involve some embarrassing bootlegged video or gossip magazine exposé) are commonplace in Tinseltown. If you're lucky, you can redeem yourself by being honest - and then dazzling audiences with an unexpected Oscar-worthy performance.

Perhaps the same holds true here for politicians.

After the YouTube videos surfaced showing Barack Obama's pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, making racist statements, the senator's entertainment industry supporters were beyond worried: Some thought Obama was, quite simply, finished....
And then, on Tuesday, their candidate made the speech of a lifetime: He talked about race relations in America in terms never before used by a U.S. presidential candidate. (By Thursday, the speech was viewed more than 1.6 million times on YouTube.)....

So in less than a week, the mood among pro-Obama forces in Hollywood went from despair to delight, and that means a reenergized campaign out here.

Expect lots of pro-Obama efforts from the glitterati in the coming weeks. already has a major initiative underway. The group announced last week that it is teaming with Academy Award winners Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Oliver Stone, multiple Grammy winner John Legend, author Naomi Wolf and others to hold a new ad contest called "Obama in 30 Seconds."

The effort provides a platform for Obama supporters to show in 30-second spots what inspires them about the senator's candidacy. MoveOn will buy time to run the winning ad on national television before Pennsylvania's crucial April 22 primary. Affleck explained the effort this way: "MoveOn's 'Obama in 30 Seconds' ad contest is a chance for everyone, from aspiring filmmakers to armchair pundits, to raise their voices to put Obama over the top and help make history."

Legend called the contest a "powerful way for ordinary citizens to be involved in an extraordinary moment in our history."

The list of other people involved in the MoveOn campaign is dazzling. It includes musician-activist Michael Franti; actor-musician-director Adrian Grenier; Academy Award-nominated producer Ted Hope; author and civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson; award-winning documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy; Stanford Law professor and founder of the Center for Internet and Society, Lawrence Lessig; recording artist Moby; Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas; Lionsgate Entertainment President Tom Ortenberg; Native American activist and documentary filmmaker Heather Rae; Focus Features President James Schamus; producer and entrepreneur Russell Simmons; hip-hop musician DJ Spooky; Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg; and Grammy Award-winning songwriter and musician Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam.

Of course, if the going gets really tough, Obama still has George Clooney as his ace in the hole, though Clooney has kept a low-key profile in this campaign.

Hollywood friends understand, perhaps better than anyone, what it means to make a comeback. And what it takes.
I wonder if Daunt's onto something here.

With one
extremely flawed speech, Obama's been able to shake off the ignominy of his ties to Trinity United Church and restore his credibility among the Hollywood media elite (and notice Markos Moulitsas' inclusion on the all-star roster).

I just finished watching Obama's latest speech following
his endorsment by Governor Bill Richardson. It's looking like the deepest crisis of Obama's campaign has essentially martyred him among the latte-sipping media mavens and nihilist netroots agitators.

Perhaps contemporary televised presidential politics makes deeper reflection on the big issues of day virtually impossible. People speakk about how Obama's speech was
mature and adult-like, but the rallying taking place around Barack Obama this week is demonstrably adolescent.

We're seeing not just the rehabilitation of Obama, but the endorsement by the chattering classes of his radical theo-ideological agenda of overthrowing the historically-purported forces of American oppression.

Barack Obama as political superstar: Is there nothing that will slow this guy down?

See further analysis at