May 11th, 2009
09:00 AM ET

Dear President Obama #112: Who cares what the stars say?

Reporter's Note: The President says we should send him suggestions. People tend to write public figures more with complaints than compliments, so asking for ideas is a nice alternative. I’m writing a letter every day.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/10/obama.correspondents.dinner.jokes/art.obamadinner.gi.jpg caption="President Obama delivers some one-liners at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner."]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

It certainly looks like you enjoyed the big White House Correspondents’ dinner, and I had a pretty good time myself. I appreciate you not giving me a personal hello during your speech, because we both know how jealous that would have made the rest of the media crowd. Especially Ed Henry. (I once saw him blow a gasket because Larry King got his salad first.) Anyway, it was by far the most packed dinner I’ve attended, and there were so many celebrities you would have thought a case of free Oscars was being dumped at the loading ramp.

And interestingly, that’s the biggest question I’ve heard from family and friends since Saturday night: What the heck were all those actors and actresses doing there?

I don’t begrudge anyone getting involved in politics, and I fully understand the glam crowd’s fascination. Hey, who among us would not like to be able to waltz into the halls of power and be welcomed with open arms? I also understand why the pols like star collecting. Having them around is fun. I chatted with Mariska Hargitay, Jon Bon Jovi, Kyle MacLachlan, Matthew Modine, bumped into (literally) Whoopi Goldberg, and was an arm’s length from Mike Myers, Glenn Close, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas (who, interestingly seemed utterly unfazed as I repeatedly muttered, “Luke, I am your father,”) and as they say in Hollywood “a cast of dozens” more. Like I said, it was a blast.

What I don’t understand is why normal people care an ounce what celebrities think about politics. Many movie stars are wonderful, talented people; but so are many tightrope walkers, jugglers, and ventriloquists; and yet I don’t see the DC gang consulting with them. In addition, many of the biggest stars playing the DC power game are so wealthy and insulated from life as we know it, you could argue that they actually know much less about standard political concerns than average Americans. We’d be better off asking our auto mechanics or local florists for an opinion. At least their lives and interests might, in some vague sense, parallel our own.

Stars have every right to participate in politics of course, but why should the door to your office, or to Congressional offices, be more open to a celebrity than they are to a teacher, a policeman, a factory worker, a store clerk, a farmer, a student, or a soldier?

I like entertainers. I think what they do is important to the well-being, happiness, and success of our country, and through their arts they often get at truths that we in the news media miss. I think some of them are good people, who truly believe in and can do good for the causes they embrace. But every time I see a weary, normal citizen, who has spent hours or days trudging the halls of the Capitol hoping for even a brief meeting with an aide to a Representative or Senator, it bothers me to think that many celebs can breeze in and out like royalty, even though they may have shown less actual grasp of the issues involved than that John Q. Public.

Do you remember the movie Man of the Year? It was all about Robin Williams as an entertainer being elected President on a fluke. In the end he quits, because he realizes the business of actually running a government, developing policy, and grappling with issues is not a hobby. It is a life’s calling.

Hollywood does have something to say about politics, and it’s already said it: Don’t give the famous people any more or any less democracy than the rest of us, no matter how much the stars get in your eyes.

Hope your week is off to a good start. Call if you get a moment. And don’t forget: Caps and Penguins tonight! We’re facing possible elimination. Yikes.



Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Art

    Nice Tom, too bad the president won't read it.

    May 12, 2009 at 6:25 am |
  2. William Courtland

    Dear Mr. Kal Pen... Well back to the Whitehouse comment page...

    May 12, 2009 at 12:11 am |
  3. michael sasen

    taliban=ultimate global cause detente of evil

    May 11, 2009 at 6:48 pm |
  4. kristen

    Tom, thank you for speaking this truth. But until we Americans can loose a bit of our fascination with celebrities by wanting to know their every thought and move, we can’t expect politicians to treat them like normal people either. Change has to begin with us.

    Have a great day!

    May 11, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  5. Brenda

    I find this letter to be very disappointing! Did you write a letter last year asking President Bush why the Jonas Brothers were at the 2008 dinner? I know they have toured the world but I don't think I want my President taking political advice from them. While many of you are disappointed that President Obama was HOB NOBBING with celebraties this year where you also dissappointed that Ben Afflack and Rob Lowe were at last years dinner hob nobbing with President Bush? I think this President has put in motion a plan to open the White House and our government up to America but seriously, he has only been in office for 5 months! People complained when he made the Easter Egg Hunt more accessible to all of America by putting the tickets on line and now your complaining about him not being accessible enough. I say enough! Enough with the childish attitude!

    May 11, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  6. BonnieLovesColdplay

    "Stars have every right to participate in politics of course, but why should the door to your office, or to Congressional offices, be more open to a celebrity than they are to a teacher, a policeman, a factory worker, a store clerk, a farmer, a student, or a soldier?"

    That's what is sad about America... celebrity dollars buy people's ears and attention. And the rest of us can't even buy a fancy dinner.

    May 11, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  7. Lesley Anne

    I think the celebs were there because it was a correspondents' dinner and they love the spotlight. I don't agree that ordinary Americans have no voice but celebrities do. Obama has been continuing town halls whenever he wants to roll out a new idea or explain his position on a major piece of legislation, even signing legislation in towns other than DC, and has been critized for "continuing to campaign" by the way. It's a good article though for presenting that particular point of view. I especially loved your dig about Ed Henry, even if it was only meant in fun.

    May 11, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  8. Marcy

    Amen Tom...Amen!

    May 11, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  9. Heidi Ann Berg

    yes nice letter,thanks for speaking for the people

    May 11, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  10. Jeff

    As a democrat and a loyal supporter of the president, I have never been so disappointed with him as I was today. How much did he get from the insurance companies to be so lenient. Insurance costs about $150.00 a month now, if this starts in 2010, I get to look forward to it going all the way down to $148.50 sometime in 2011.

    May 11, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  11. Anne of the World

    Once again...a great letter Tom. Celebrity and Reality have no correlation.

    May 11, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  12. korry

    I think the better question is: Why do politicians care so much what celebrities think about politics. I think us "normal people" could give a damn about some entertainer's view on public policy. Actually I think most of us are annoyed when a star is too vocal in politics because often they appear trite and ill-informed. I like a celebrity as much as the rest – they live glamorous lives, they're entertaining and often they are nice to look at, but most of us average people can separate that fantasy from reality. It's a shame, as alluded to in your article, that politians cannot.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  13. Geline

    Nice letter Tom. 🙂

    May 11, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  14. Beverly Lewis

    But we don't want any more Joe the Plumbers either.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  15. Kelli

    Amen & Thank You!

    You, Mr. Foreman, may be the most insightful person in America... Well at CNN at least.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:45 am |
  16. Matthew Warren

    Author O' Shaughnessy once said,

    "One man with a dream at pleasure, shall go forth and conquer a crown; and three with a new songs measure, can trample an empire down.

    These are the people who write new songs measures....

    May 11, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  17. Deana Cox


    May 11, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  18. Pati Mc Camp Hill, PA

    Could not have said it better myself, Tom. Thanks for the laugh, but more so, the truth, and have a wonderful Monday. You are my hero!

    May 11, 2009 at 10:10 am |
  19. Ron Williams

    Well I have to fully agree with Tom Foreman. But my take is from another angle. Given the fact I am a Rep I did vote for change... I admit that. But as I watched the WHCD unfold and I read many celebs tweets throughout the eve... just made me turn a little more sour that I had made the wrong decision. Celebs that had NO reason to be there were tweeting how lame certain speeches were and spent more time bad mouthing what this person was wearing and who was sitting near who.... UGH... enough already.

    Given the fact that I am a player in the financial world I would of liked to had been invited to see who I could possible get help for businesses in the Rochester NY area.... Since I have tried the local poiticians and I have gotten nowhere. But Jeepers.... Anderson... I am very disapointed in this President hob nobbin with celebs.... Which has nothing to do with politics other than a big fat donation.... I've donated HUGE dollars and I have gotten NOTHING in return here in Rochester....

    I've made a mistake... but I won't next time around.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:05 am |
  20. susan amsden

    Thankyou, my thoughts exactly.

    May 11, 2009 at 10:04 am |
  21. Cindy

    Great letter! This is one where I 100 % agree with you! Why should the doors of DC and the White House be fully opened by Obama to the celebs yet the regular people have no way of getting near him? They are kept miles away from him. Like you said these "stars" have lots of money and have no clue what normal every day citizens go through and how we live our lives. So Obama hobnobbing with the celebs and getting their opinions on things is ridiculous! Just goes to show he wants to be a celeb just like them. If he really wanted to get the real scoop he'd have real people who actually are trying to make it on a budget every month to survive up at the White House discussing things with him. But you see he does not and will not ever do that!


    May 11, 2009 at 9:44 am |
  22. Well Put

    That's the problem the GOP faces. They're too tightly tied to the elite in America and religion to understand what the "average" American cares about. We aren't worried about taxes and most are happy to pay. The issue is when they don't have decent jobs with decent wages and the tax rates make the difference between feeding their families and survival in general. This are issues the rich don't grapple with. For them taxes make the difference between rich and super rich, but they eat and buy whatever they want on a whim. Yet the GOP seems hell bent on catering to them. Politicians get too caught up in the "glam" scene and all too often, they lose touch with the average American and their concerns.

    May 11, 2009 at 9:17 am |