by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Obama has spent this summer trying to prop up his unpopular health-care plan via his most loyal constituency: Hollywood.
When other constituencies desert him — and even loyal allies like labor unions have been grumbling about the added costs — the president knows he can count on Hollywood to support him, whatever the issue.
Recently, Obama brought celebrities like Jennifer Hudson, Amy Poehler, Michael Cera, and Kal Penn to the White House to encourage them to help sell ObamaCare. Oprah Winfrey and Jon Bon Jovi were apparently too busy to come but, fear not, they sent their “representatives” to attend the meeting in their stead. He also went on Jay Leno to ask viewers to sign up for exchanges.
The move towards approaching the health-care implementation effort like a political campaign is typical of Obama. After all, he was quite successful campaigning with Hollywood stars in both of his presidential campaigns. George Clooney has earned the title “Obama’s biggest bankroller,” and “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria was co-chairman of his 2012 campaign. Obama himself recognized how dependent he has been on the entertainment community. At a Hollywood fundraiser in February 2012, he told the crowd: “I’m going to need you. You’re going to carry this thing like you did in 2008.” …
… Obama is breaking new ground in bringing out a presidential campaign-style deployment of celebrities in order to back a specific policy program. This isn’t a star trying to get him elected — it’s Hollywood trying to influence policy.
It’s not clear that campaigning alone will be enough to win the day on ObamaCare, especially with provisions like price caps and business mandates delayed due to ineffective implementation.
Are multimillionaire entertainers, who clearly will not face the difficulties that regular Americans will face in paying for health care, the best strategy in this case?