The Obama-love in Hollywood, which ebbed a bit in the last two years, could be rekindled by his decision to embrace gay marriage.
Entertainment figures had rallied around Obama as much as any politician in history in 2008, but critics have emerged since then, casting the president as insufficiently liberal. Last year, actor Matt Damon, a strong Obama supporter in 2008, pointedly said he would have preferred “a one-term president with some balls who actually got stuff done.” Robert Redford, Barbara Streisand and other liberal celebs offered similar criticisms.
To be sure, many entertainment figures still adore the president. A fundraiser Thursday night at the Los Angeles home of George Clooney, scheduled weeks ago, will raise millions of dollars for Obama’s campaign and be attended by Robert Downey Jr., Tobey Maguire, Streisand and other major figures according to the Los Angeles Times.
WATCH MSNBC COVERAGE OF BACKLASH AGAINST THE CLOONEY EVENT:
But before Obama’s shift on gay marriage Wednesday, it was possible that he would be the only one of the 150 people at the event who did not support gay marriage. And he could have been pressed on this stance by these donors, particularly after North Carolina passed a gay marriage ban and Vice President Biden spoke out in favor of gay marriage.
Now, the question remains whether Hollywood will work for Obama as it did in 2008. Four years ago, the president benefited not only from campaign money from entertainment figures, but even more overt acts: Oprah Winfrey campaigned alongside Obama, and actresses such as Scarlett Johansson appeared in the famous “Yes We Can” video Will.i.Am.
These efforts cast the Obama election as almost something above politics, a kind of movement these celebrities wanted to associate with. Obama certainly needs their money in 2012, with Mitt Romney and Republican groups expected to raise billions to take on the president.
But Obama could use some of that Hollywood creativity too. Polls show young voters, many of whom are struggling to find jobs, are less excited about voting than in 2008. Entertainment figures could help Obama energize that part of his political base, which was key to his victory in 2008.
Follow Perry Bacon Jr. on Twitter at @perrybaconjr