After eight years of generally icy feelings toward President George W. Bush, the entertainment industry is once again wrapping its arms around the nation’s capital in a warm embrace."Generally icy"? Understatement. Anyway, now that's all changed. Now the White House is the coolest place on earth.
Mr. Obama makes no secret that he has entertainment industry friends; Oprah Winfrey remains a close supporter, Barbra Streisand raised millions for his campaign, Bruce Springsteen rocked the town on inauguration weekend. As president, Mr. Obama has made aggressive use of the White House as a platform to promote cultural events, hosting concerts featuring artists as varied as Stevie Wonder and Tony Bennett and, just last week, the bluegrass-country star Alison Krauss.Gee, I wonder why the American public (outside DC) hasn't heard more about this. Oh, yeah:
But in the six months since taking office, Mr. Obama has also entertained a quiet behind-the-scenes parade of movie stars and other celebrities, who may traipse through the West Wing and Oval Office unannounced during the work week. They include Pierce Brosnan, Reese Witherspoon, Ben Stiller, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jon Bon Jovi, to name just a few.
Some slip in just for tours. Ms. Witherspoon, with her co-star Paul Rudd and her boyfriend, Jake Gyllenhaal, dropped in on Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. when she and Mr. Rudd were here filming a movie. (The White House photographer took a picture of the president and Ms. Witherspoon in the Oval Office; it hangs in the working quarters of the West Wing, out of view of most visitors.)
Others come with an agenda.
Mr. Brosnan met with Obama administration officials in May to talk about his favorite cause, saving the whales. Mr. DiCaprio spent 10 minutes with President Obama in the Oval Office a couple of months ago to talk about the environment. Mr. Clooney weighed in on the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Mr. Bon Jovi, who has been active with United We Serve, Mr. Obama’s initiative to promote volunteerism, had lunch in the White House mess not long ago with David Axelrod, the president’s senior adviser; later, the president dropped in to say hello.
The meetings have happened quietly with good reason: At a time when ordinary Americans are struggling through the darkest economy since the Great Depression, and the president is confronting epic problems like health care and the nuclear ambitions of Iran, Mr. Obama can ill afford to be seen cavorting with Hollywood types.And yet, cavort he does. A lot. (Recession, shmecession!)
Eat your heart out, NYC and LA.