No “Milk”

Updated

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

Hollywood’s award season kicked off in earnest this morning with the announcement of the nominations for the Independent Spirit Awards. The biggest surprise? “Milk” was not among the nominees for best picture. The movie did collect four nominations, including Sean Penn for actor, James Franco for supporting actor and cinematography and screenplay.

The Independent Spirit Awards are administered by Film Independent, the same group that also oversees the Los Angeles Film Festival. Its director, Richard Raddon, resigned last week in the face of criticism and threats of boycott from filmmakers and same-sex marriage advocates over his donation to Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage in California.

It’s a big stretch to say there is a link, but it is a bit ironic. “Milk” producers Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks were involved in the No on 8 campaigns, and its screenwriter Dustin Lance Black helped create No on 8 Web ads and participated in post-election protests.

Oprah’s Anti-Obama Donor: Fox News’s Roger Friedman keys in on Harold Simmons, a big donor and supporter of John McCain’s during the election who also happens to be a big donor to her Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Friedman writes, “This past August it was revealed that Simmons was the single donor to a 527 committee called American Issues Project. Its only issue: to run ads linking Obama to William Ayers, the political activist who was once part of the Weather Underground. Simmons paid $2.9 million to try and make Ayers the Obama campaign’s “Swift Boat,” an issue that might have sidelined permanently the Illinois senator’s chances and advance John McCain — Simmons’s candidate — to the White House.”

Simmons is friends with Winfrey, and the two are neighbors in Montecito, Calif.

Prop 8 Postmortem: Karen Ocamb of IN Magazine investigates what went wrong with the No on 8 campaign. Steve Smith, campaign consultant for the campaign, tells her it came down to who could define the issue first via ads.

Ocamb writes, “For all the finger-pointing following the devastating loss, Smith says it all came down to that final ad featuring the front-page San Francisco Chronicle story of kindergarten children attending their lesbian teacher’s wedding.

“I think we lost because fundamentally we didn’t get enough votes from women,” says Smith. “We lost women by about a point, instead of winning them by nine points. That’s where we lost the election.”

“You could see in the polling numbers people were starting to doubt the other side’s claim. And then the wedding on the steps happened. And it was like confirmation—it is true. … That, more than anything else, is why we lost women. Was everything perfect [with the campaign]? No. There were lots of little mistakes … But who defines the issues in these campaigns wins. We didn’t quite have enough resources to really define it, so when they hit us on kids … The debate stayed, ‘Was it about schools or not?’ And once the debate stayed there, we were cooked. You can’t win a marriage campaign debating kids in school because people will vote for their kids every time,” says Smith. “Without the wedding on the steps at City Hall, I think we would have won the campaign.”

In Case you Missed It: Longtime gay activist Torie Osborn connects “Milk” to the problems of the way that the No on 8 campaign was run. She writes, “1978 was a different era, a time of widespread social activism on the progressive side; organizing and coalition-building was the norm, and the latest human rights movement – the gay and lesbian movement — learned how. Critical to Harvey Milk’s election was promoting the Coors boycott in the gay community and thus building trust with labor. We came from a 25-point deficit to beat Briggs because we did exactly in 1978 what Barack Obama did this year to win the presidency: Build BOTH a professionally run, disciplined, topnotch top-down campaign AND an inclusive huge grassroots movement that engaged every single person possible in activist support.”

She adds, “But even that mass grassroots movement would not have defeated the right wing’s vicious campaign without our professional political consultant, David Mixner, who got Ronald Reagan to do a 30-second radio ad that ran the last two weeks of the campaign. Mixner also had briefly run Tom Bradley’s Mayoral campaign and worked with African American political leaders to deliver the Black vote in LA. Unfortunately, No on 8 did little coalition-building with the all-important black, Latino, and labor communities.”

“But most importantly, this year’s No on 8 equivalent of that Reagan ad designed to reach the “moveable middle” should have been Barack Obama. Obama opposed Prop 8 immediately, but the campaign failed to use his endorsement until the last days of the campaign when it was too late. When Obama’s CA campaign director asked me in early October why Barack’s face wasn’t plastered all over mailers and TV and radio – which might have made a big difference in Black and Brown communities that overwhelmingly voted for him — I was told by a friend in No on 8’s inner circle that Barack’s position was “too confusing” (he says he opposes gay marriage).”

The LA Weekly’s Patrick Range McDonald writes that Osborn “did something few people in her A-list position have been willing to do: Publicly criticize the “No on 8″ campaign.”   

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