Is this a celebrity endorsement that is more trouble than it’s worth?
Danny Glover appeared with John Edwards on Wednesday, giving the candidate his endorsement and saying, “This is a campaign about real democracy.” They appeared in Florence, S.C. to highlight the needs of the rural poor.
But in recent weeks Glover has caused quite quite a stir not only for his support of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, but his acceptance of $18 million from the Venezuelan government to make his own passion film project. Venezuelan filmmakers were upset that the money was granted to him without any kind of competitive bidding. And one of Glover’s past co-stars, actress Maria Conchita Alonso, a Venezuelan native, has appeared several times on Fox News’ “Hannity & Colmes,” not necessarily criticizing the actor but wondering what he’s doing with a leader she considers a thug. She’s been helping to wage a campaign critical of Chavez’s decisions to force an opposition TV station off the air.
As Marc Ambiner points out on his The Atlantic Monthly blog, “Hugo Chavez hearts Danny Glover; Danny Glover hearts John Edwards. Logical fallacy, yes, to associate Edwards with Chavez-loving. But Glover hasn’t just called Chavez a ‘very visionary man’ and endorsed Chavez’s ‘Bush is the devil’ forumations.”
Edwards’ spokesman Eric Schultz had this to say:
“John Edwards does not have to agree with someone on every issue to stand with them on the ones that he does. Danny Glover and John Edwards agree that workers need rights, 37 million people in this country should not live in poverty and we need real universal health care. Just like John Edwards has nothing to do with Lethal Weapon movies 1-4, he also has nothing to do with Hugo Chavez.”
The New York Times’ Magazine cover story is on Edwards’ campaign, and goes into the more substantial backstory of Glover’s support to Edwards — they helped organize hotel workers last year — and the candidate’s own drive to make this race about a war on poverty. Writer Matt Bai says, “Edwards’s campaign feels oddly inverted. There’s no doubt he wants very badly to win, and yet there are times when the entire campaign seems little more than an excuse for him to talk about the issue with which he is now most closely identified: the case for the 37 million Americans living in poverty. The centerpiece of his campaign is a sprawling plan to eradicate poverty altogether by 2036. Echoing Robert Kennedy’s final campaign 40 years ago, Edwards, who has apologized for his Senate vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq, argues that Americans can’t prevail in a civil war abroad but that we can — and should — wage another war on poverty at home. Everything else in the campaign, Edwards seems to think, all these carefully orchestrated photo ops and drop-bys and van rides with the media, is the kind of empty political theater from which he declared himself liberated after his last presidential run. He gives the impression that he simply endures it.”