Hollywood’s biggest stars turned out en masse at Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner to see their hero. When a Republican is in the White House, the annual dinner might feature one or two A-list actors, but the rest are D-list celebrities. With President Obama in the last year of his term, this year’s media dinner looked more like the Oscars, as actors flew private jets to walk the Washington Hilton’s red carpet to support their favorite chief executive.
George Clooney, who sat right next to the head table, will soon become Mr. Obama’s biggest bankroller. The box-office titan will host a dinner at his house on May 10 with a $40,000 per person entrance fee. “All I know is it’s the biggest fundraiser so far to date - ever,” Mr. Clooney told the Wall Street Journal at the dinner. “Right now, we’ve raised about $10 million for the fundraiser, which is about double anything that’s ever been done before.”
The millionaire star of “The Descendants” and “Oceans 11” already gave $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee in both 2011 and 2012. To capitalize on access to the silver-screen heartthrob, the Obama campaign has overloaded supporters’ email inboxes offering the possibility of winning tickets to Mr. Clooney’s event in exchange for a donation. Perhaps realizing the small donors’ limited means, the campaign later sent emails offering free hotel and airfare to Los Angeles for the winners.
Director Steven Spielberg joined Mr. Clooney at the front table Saturday. The Dreamworks principal gave $100,000 in 2011 to the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action. Both he and his wife, actress Kate Capshaw, also maxed out to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) last year. The animation company’s CEO, Stacy Snider, who was a guest of Atlantic Media, gave the DNC $12,900 in 2011. Actress Eva Longoria, who came to Washington for the event, bundles money as an Obama campaign co-chairman and gave the legal limit to the Democratic Party last year.
The entertainment industry always gives overwhelmingly to Democrats - 78 percent in the last presidential election. In the first quarter of this year, Hollywood donations jumped 42 percent to $7 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Given the state of economy, Mr. Obama’s living it up with left-coast luminaries might not play well in Middle America. The Republican-affiliated super PAC American Crossroads put out a video this week entitled “Cool,” showing the commander in chief singing Al Green a cappella, wearing wraparound shades, downing a glass of dark beer, calling rapper Kanye West a “jackass,” and dancing with talk-show host Ellen Degeneres.
Then the screen reveals statistics of this presidency, including one in two recent college graduates is unemployed or underemployed and 85 percent of them have moved back in with their parents. The video ends with this question: “After four years of a celebrity president, is your life any better?” This is surely a powerful message to young people directly affected by Mr. Obama’s policies.
Mr. Obama is using his Tinseltown allies to help build his $1 billion re-election war chest, but he has limited his public appearances with the rich and famous. If he’s seen hanging out too often at Mr. Clooney’s house, voters might realize he’s out of touch with real Americans’ problems.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.