- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Jon Voight is a silver-screen conservative who considers the final speech of George Washington bedside reading. He is much moved by American mettle, military veterans, historical moments, Old Glory and youthful spirit.

And he’s fierce about the state of his country. Very fierce.

“Democracy is an extraordinary adventure. It’s difficult, full of daring and risk and danger. But it’s the greatest gift we have,” the Academy Award-winning actor said Tuesday during a visit to The Washington Times newsroom.

“The people who voted for President Obama are just beginning to wake up to exactly what they brought in. The ‘change’ they envisioned is not the ‘change’ they have gotten.” Mr. Voight said.

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He likens the Obama administration to a Hollywood script, rife with technique and craft, very compelling but not necessarily real.

“It is a very, very slick, relentless campaign to build Obama as the answer to all our needs. They know what people want and they give it in a package that can be read off a teleprompter. That’s not what our country is based upon,” Mr. Voight said.

He offered a terse review of the principal player.

“Obama is a very good actor. He knows how to play it. And he is very adept at creating this ‘Obama’ - this character who is there whenever the world needs something,” he said.

Mr. Voight knows about acting - he’s been a Hollywood icon for decades, first breaking through to audiences and grabbing an Oscar nomination for his role in 1969’s “Midnight Cowboy.”

He won the Academy Award as best actor for his role in the 1978 film “Coming Home” (ironically, liberal icon Jane Fonda won for best actress in the same film). His other famous 1970s roles include “Deliverance” and “The Champ.” More recently, his turns in “Runaway Train” and as broadcaster Howard Cosell in “Ali” brought him his third and fourth Oscar nominations.

But Mr. Voight is no curmudgeon railing against change and pining for the old days.

To current audiences, he may be best known as the father of Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie. But he has raised his profile, not just politically, with a major small-screen role as Jonas Hodges in the current season of Fox’s “24.”

And The Times interview was the second occasion in two days that the actor has gone after Mr. Obama. On Monday, he stood before the National Republican Congressional Committee and delivered a speech to rally the party: 2012 beckons.

He delivered a fiery speech, in which he called Mr. Obama a “false prophet” and dubbed his administration the “Obama oppression” that would lead to the “downfall” of the country. “We are becoming a weak nation,” he said in a speech that had his audience cheering and won praise afterward from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

At 70, the actor still strides through life with pronounced opinion, boundless emotion and strong faith. There is not much artifice about him. The slim star dresses in black, his gaze is direct and inquisitive. His speech before appreciative Republicans was written on plain white paper, and in his own hand.

Mr. Voight admires Mr. Gingrich and praises his intellect, political convictions and down-to-earth demeanor. He frets about the safety of Israel. Leading conservative talk radio hosts and cultural observers who espouse traditional values with a modicum of optimism earn his gratitude.

“Let’s give thanks to them for not giving up,” he said.

His advice to his fellow Americans? Read up on the lives of the nation’s founders, and understand that the founding of the nation was “an amazing moment in time,” he said.

“I have at my bedside George Washington’s final address to the American people, which was never delivered. But it was later published in newspapers throughout the country. His thoughts, his words - they are as relevant right now as they were when they were written. His warnings give us insight into what is going on right now,” Mr. Voight said.

He has a personal stake in the first president. In sleek colonial uniform and white wig, Mr. Voight played George Washington in “An American Carol,” a 2008 film that parodied such film industry liberals as Michael Moore and Rosie O’Donnell, among others.

And he’s still playing the senior officer.

Mr. Voight is also a general in the burgeoning army of Hollywood conservatives who intend to support America, and buff up the American image for its own people, and an audience abroad. The battalion includes actors Gary Sinise, Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton, Dennis Hopper and Pat Boone.

“The last time we all met, there were over a thousand people. Think about that. Hollywood conservatives, all of them different people, but all on the same path. It was very heartening,” Mr. Voight recalled.

And like a good general, Mr. Voight knows his foes, and he has a simple strategy. He can rattle off a list of those who annoy him, from financier George Soros to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. And let’s not forget the press.

“The news media has lied itself out of the business. Now, real accountability journalism. That says it all. That’s what’s been missing so long,” he said.

He is vexed by bureaucracy, big government and soft-peddling by political correctness.

“This lie of political correctness is bringing this country down. You just want to break through it all.”

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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