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Hollywood Aftermath
November 5, 2004

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

During the campaign, John Kerry referred to the Hollywood Left as "the heart and soul of America." But when the Democratic nominee said these words, little did he know that this would be the issue ultimately dooming his candidacy.

The Hollywood celebrities who came out en masse for Kerry aren't the ones we'd normally associate with the surprise issue of this presidential campaign.

As the pundits and strategists carried on about the war, the economy and health care, it's clear now that the heartland zeroed in on one overriding issue: moral values.

Today as always, it's still a cultural maxim ­ celebrities have immense power. They're able to obtain press access, draw huge crowds, raise large amounts of cash and provide excitement to otherwise dull events.

This being said, the star endorsement area is a tricky matter. Yes, companies pay big bucks to have athletes and actors sell everything from allergy medicine to underwear.

But a celebrity endorsement also can create a backlash. This is especially true in the case of the scores of celebs who spewed vitriol against our nation's leader and did so in a time of war.

Americans are certainly a forgiving people. But they have long memories when remorse is not forthcoming or when insult is repeated.

They remember

  • when Julia Roberts called the president "embarrassing," adding that "he's not my president and he never will be either."
  • when Cher remarked: "I don't like Bush. I don't trust him. I don't like his record. He's stupid. He's lazy."
  • when Michael Moore publicly stated his theory that the Bush administration was hiding Osama bin Laden.
  • when Janeane Garofalo mused aloud on the national airwaves that the president and Saddam Hussein were morally indistinguishable.
  • when Sean Penn said that the president was "a traitor of human and American principles."
  • when Gwyneth Paltrow called Bush "such an embarrassment to America in the way that he doesn't take the rest of the world into consideration."
  • when Whoopi Goldberg made tasteless remarks comparing the president's surname to female anatomy.
  • and when Leonardo DiCaprio said that the president was "a cheap thug." Other Tinseltown types announced that they would move out of the country if Bush were elected.

Alec Baldwin threatened to leave the country if Bush won in 2000, as did Robert Altman.

When after the election Baldwin was asked why he hadn't yet left, he claimed that he had meant he was only going on vacation.

When Altman was in France promoting a film, he said that a Republican victory "would be a catastrophe for the whole world" and stated that if George Bush were elected president he was "leaving for France." Altman later denied making the statement, saying that what he meant was that he would move to Paris, Texas, "because the state would be better off if [Bush] is out of it."

In December 2000 at President Clinton's final formal White House dinner, Barbra Streisand reportedly said, "I don't think you'll see me around here for at least four years."

More recently, actor Robert Redford and porn purveyor Larry Flynt expressed a desire to find new domiciles.

Redford reportedly vowed to move to Ireland if Bush were re-elected.

And while speaking in Paris, Flynt told the German News Agency he'd have to consider a departure from the U.S. Flynt said, "If Bush is re-elected ­ but I don't want to even consider the thought for one second ­ I really have to think about living somewhere else."

Asked what he would do if Bush won another term, George Soros told the press, "I shall go into some kind of monastery."

TV producer and activist Norman Lear remarked that if Bush were to win re-election, folks should "watch what happens to real estate in New Zealand."

Basically, the celebrity Left-led "get out the youth vote" movement was a failure, with the same percentage of young voters participating in this election as in 2000, despite being told of the horrors that would befall them if they didn't vote.

Christina Aguilera said they'd lose the ability to have sex. Drew Barrymore implied that they would lose their civil rights. And "P Diddy" Combs warned young hip-hoppers to "Vote or Die."

Although reality star Paris Hilton and rapper 50 Cent posed for posters wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the "Vote Or Die!" slogan, neither of them reportedly registered to vote.

In the end, in this election cycle there were two classes of celebrities: those who with well-thought-out assistance actually aided a candidate and those who with mindless rhetoric became lightning rods and ended up motivating the other side.

Reproduced with the permission of . All rights reserved

Copyright © 2004
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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