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Hollywood and Obama

by HOWARD LISNOFF

Although “Let’s go on with the show” is a lyric from the Broadway show “Annie Get Your Gun” (1946), in “Obama’s New Courting of Hollywood Pays Off,” (The New York Times, May 9, 2012) readers don’t have to be anywhere near The Great White Way in New York City to know that President Obama’s Hollywood supporters don’t need any encouragement to take up the faux banner of “hope and change” in 2012 and go on with the show.

It seems that for the better part of 4 years President Obama has been missing in action from Hollywood, but with Super Pacs weighing in for Mitt Romney, Obama is back in town.

Indeed, what a show the US political and economic systems are! Just as the “hope and change” marketing scheme of 2008 paid off for Obama, so can Hollywood deftly inject fear into the hearts of movie buffs with voracious man-eating sharks; place the comfortably seated in the heat of battle in war; or immerse viewers in the ecstasy and loss of love and life. The dream-making machine in Hollywood is as effective as the political machine in the U.S. In the case of the political system, however, there’s no need to materially reward faithful constituencies as Obama quickly learned following his 2008 election to the Presidency.

Recently, Hollywood made a striking turnaround after being shunned by Obama. Obama was able to raise over $6 million at a fund-raiser at the home of George Clooney where there was no room at the dinner table after $40,000 tickets to the event sold out.

Another Hollywood legend, Rob Reiner states: “I felt that he tried to accommodate the other side too much,” but Reiner concluded, “that it’s virtually impossible,” speaking of the President’s failed attempts to accommodate Republicans in Congress.

After criticisms by talk show host Bill Maher about Obama’s record on defense spending and lack of tax policy that would tax the wealthy, Maher muted his criticisms and wrote a one million dollar check to a Super pac for the President when he realized that “You just run back into his arms,” when a possible Romney presidency is considered. In “Democracy in the Streets” (CounterPunch, April 23, 2012), I make the point that the Democratic Party has foisted the banner of being the only show in town (and many voters are driven to conclude that Democrats are the lesser of two evils every four years), with the result of bringing progressives, liberals, and union members into the fold where those groups have been most often rewarded with absolutely nothing in return for their allegiance to Democrats over the past 35 years.

Now with Hollywood’s dream factory cheering Obama on, many voters may forget the $8.2 trillion that has been lost in home equity since the housing bubble burst in 2007. That’s more than a 60 percent loss in home equity noted in a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (“Home Equity Declines More than 60% During Great Recession,” Reverse Mortgage Daily, February 13, 2011). Much of the money from the President’s stimulus package of $787 billion could have gone to homeowners who were most damaged by the housing bust. Instead, that money went to Wall Street where banks like JP Morgan Chase are still playing fast and loose with derivatives while hindering any attempts to regulate investment banks.

And war, which seems to be on no one’s mind (along with the decaying environment), has cost taxpayers $3.7 trillion according to the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University (“Cost of war at least $3.7 trillion and counting,” Reuters, June 29, 2011). The cost of war may reach a whopping  $4.4 trillion soon according to the same study.

Both Hollywood and the political system are good at entertaining both movie buffs and voters alike. The political system, war, and big business, are often the stuff of an ugly reality that can shock, just as the moviegoer is shocked back into reality when the theater or room lights come back on.

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He can be reached at howielisnoff@gmail.com

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Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).

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