A couple of weeks ago the Washington Times published a story about beleaguered conservatives in the entertainment industry. Just the fact that the story appeared in the Washington Times would normally be enough reason to laugh it off, but the article gets even funnier than one might imagine. It begins:
“A group of politically conservative and centrist Hollywood figures organized by actor Gary Sinise and others has been meeting quietly in restaurants and private homes, forming a loose-knit network of entertainers who share common beliefs like supporting U.S. troops and traditional American values [...] The group, whose members call themselves “Friends of Abe” after Abraham Lincoln [are they sure it's not Vigoda?], was organized as an underground movement because of fears that prominent industry titans with outspoken liberal views would retaliate, said participants. They often were reluctant to name members of the group in interviews for fear it would hurt their careers.”
To the extent that this shadowy conclave of rebels was willing to shed their reluctance to name names (behavior with which conservatives should be familiar), they thoroughly undermined their stated mission. Those courageous enough to step forward include some of Hollywood’s biggest stars:
- Gary Sinise
- Pat Boone
- Jon Voight
- Kelsey Grammer
- Lionel Chetwynd
And this list doesn’t include big conservative names that have not been associated with Friends of Abe:
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Bruce Willis
- Tom Selleck
- Patricia Heaton
- Adam Sandler
- Mel Gibson
- Clint Eastwood
- Chuck Norris
Conservatives are desperately trying to carve a place for themselves in a Hollywood they believe does not want them. There have been at least three articles in the Washington Times on the subject. It has also been taken up by the Los Angeles Times, the National Review, and Rupert Murdoch’s Weekly Standard did a cover story on it.
But can they really be serious about alleging discrimination, and fear of retaliation when, by their own accounts, they are enjoying stupendous success and popularity? Of course they can. Fealty to the truth or reality has never stopped a conservative before. It’s what the Bush administration relies on whenever they describe programs like “Clear Skies,” “Healthy Forests,” or “iraqi Freedom.” It’s what allows John McCain to complain that the media is unfair to him, or that Barack Obama is a flip-flopper. It is a strategy wherein you assert the polar opposite of what you actually mean – what actually is. This round of bitching is emblematic of right-wing methodology in politics.
It is also ironic that these efforts to exalt celebrity should bubble up at a time when the McCain campaign is mocking celebrity with juvenile ads about Britney Spears.
So it should surprise no one that conservatives would assert that, if they were to disclose their views in Hollywood, they would never be successful, and then trot out a bevy of successful Hollywood conservatives to make their case. This is the way they work, and they pray that the American people are stupid enough to fall for it. I think that’s what they really mean by a “Faith-based Initiative.”