- The Washington Times - Monday, August 11, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

“Shut up and sing, Natalie Maines!”

“Who cares what Ben Affleck thinks?”

“I’ll pay for Alec Baldwin’s ticket out of the country.”

“Charge Danny Glover with sedition already!”

Welcome to the Hollywood Election Wayback Machine, 2004 Edition.

In the last presidential election cycle, right-wing talk-radio hordes rallied to victory around similar refrains, delivering a stinging defeat to America’s pop culture ambassadors and their relentless message of vitriol.

The star-studded liberal camp didn’t have a candidate they could get behind, so they waged war against the president. They were the Swift Yacht Vets. And President Bush blew them out of the water.

This election is different.

Gone is Cindy Sheehan and her tone-deaf Hollywood enablers. Gone is Michael Moore and his pre-ordained Oscar acceptance speech. Gone is Janeane Garofalo. (Is she OK? Can someone check her apartment?)

Gone, perhaps, is the losing Democratic Party strategy from hell.

Sen. Barack Obama is a casting agent’s dream and his narrative is inspiring. He’s the perfect age for a new Camelot. He’s tall and fit - his jogging entrance at the debate at the celeb-laden Kodak Theater last January even wowed tense supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. He talks better than most of his peers in the Senate. And his nuclear family takes the perfect picture.

Then there’s his race. Hollywood proved it works: Will Smith, an Obama supporter, is America’s most predictable box office draw. The group picture of Mr. Obama’s African-American supporters, such as Kanye West, Halle Berry, Wyclef Jean, John Legend, Taye Diggs, Alfre Woodard, Russell Simmons, to name a few, reinforces a vision of American achievement.

For those who were paying attention, David Geffen greenlighted the Obama candidacy in February 2007, when he signed his divorce papers from the Clintons: “Everybody in politics lies,” the mogul told Hollywood’s paper of record, the New York Times, “but they do it with such ease, it’s troubling.”

Hollywood’s powerful and politically active gay community immediately followed Mr. Geffen’s lead.

Then Oprah Winfrey virtually made Mr. Obama’s nomination a fait accompli when she broke her “rule” and endorsed for president the junior senator from Illinois, her own state.

“My support of him is probably worth more than any check that I could write,” Miss Winfrey told Larry King.

And then some. The September fundraiser at her Montecito estate offered cover to a stunning array of A-listers previously loyal to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton never recovered from the Geffen and Winfrey defections - as the floodgates of talent came rushing to Mr. Obama’s side. Twenty-three-year-old actress Scarlett Johannson even bragged about being e-mail buddies with Mr. Obama.

“My heart belongs to Barack,” Miss Johannson declared. (JFK and Mr. Clinton would have e-mailed her back, too.)

Other starlets, like Kirsten Dunst and George Clooney, also professed their crushes. “He walks into your world, and he takes your breath away,” Mr. Clooney cooed.

Even the children of stars are in the mood. Sarah Jessica Parker of “Sex and the City” says her 5-year-old son is “very into Barack Obama … on his own.”

Inspired viral videos made on the cheap by the likes of the hip-hop artist will.i.am of the Black-Eyed Peas convey a utopian future with Mr. Obama at the helm. (Could Republicans create something that inspiring - even with an unlimited budget?)

Yet with almost all cultural indicators pointing towards an Obama presidency, most polls show Sen. John McCain within reach.

The success of the Iraq surge (which Mr. Obama continues to speak out against) and the growing need for domestic oil drilling continue to take the rising political star off script. His spectacular European trip seems to have backfired, too, making Mr. Obama look like a narcissistic elitist. A publicized $1,000-a-plate dinner hosted by Mr. Clooney in Geneva, Switzerland, won’t help matters.

So far, Hollywood has played this election remarkably cool, but that is based wholly on the presumption that Mr. Obama will win big.

If the race stays close or Mr. McCain pulls ahead, expect a trip to the Hollywood Election Wayback Machine, 2004 Edition, and the Democratic Party strategy from hell.

Andrew Breitbart is the founder of the news Web site breitbart.com and is co-author of “Hollywood Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon - the Case Against Celebrity.”

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