That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.
Kennedy Center honoree Barbra Streisand met — albeit briefly — face to face with President Bush at the White House on Sunday. The potentially awkward moment — a visible and outspoken Bush critic meeting with the president himself — was alleviated when Bush kissed Streisand on the cheek. “Art transcends politics this weekend,” Streisand said, according to the Associated Press. The ceremony preceded events at the Kennedy Center.
Variety’s Peter Bart was at the White House and writes, “The guests, an eclectic mix of showbiz and Washington celebs, were acutely conscious that the mood was quickly changing in this intensely political town. ‘This feels like the final days of Saigon, and the choppers are about to take the regime away,’ observed one esteemed visitor.
“But the president is not ready to surrender centerstage. Politicos at the Kennedy Center joked that Bush is single-handedly trying to solve the unemployment crisis — at least among Republicans — by making a flurry of last-minute political appointments, some 30 in the last couple of weeks alone.”
On “Meet the Press” on Sunday, President-elect Barack Obama promised to invite artists and other entertainers to the White House to inspire young people. And Bart reports a rumor that Obama is quietly setting up an advisory board on arts and culture policy. George Stevens Jr. and Margo Lion chaired an advisory committee on the arts for the Obama campaign.
Obama told Tom Brokaw he was “thinking about the diversity of our culture and, and inviting jazz musicians and classical musicians and poetry readings in the White House so that, once again, we appreciate this incredible tapestry that’s America. I–you know, that, I think, is, is going to be incredibly important, particularly because we’re going through hard times. And, historically, what has always brought us through hard times is that national character, that sense of optimism, that willingness to look forward, that, that sense that better days are ahead. I think that our art and our culture, our science, you know, that’s the essence of what makes America special, and, and we want to project that as much as possible in the White House.”
“Meet” Host: As expected, David Gregory was named the new host of “Meet the Press.” He tells the New York Times that the task ahead is “daunting.” Betsy Fisher also has reupped as the show’s executive producer.
The Winner: Time picks the Couric-Palin interviews as the No. 1 campaign video moment of 2008.
Frost on “Nixon”: David Frost points out liberties taken in “Frost/Nixon.”
The Ad That Never Was: ABC News obtains an unused McCain campaign ad that features Rev. Wright. Produced by Fred Davis, it was never approved by the candidate himself.
Prop 8: Caitlin Flanagan and Benjamin Schwarz write in a New York Times Op-Ed that the Prop 8 vote appears to have pitted black churches against the gay community, with Hollywood in the middle.
Hollywood, of course, is a city full of statesmen and moral authorities, and many of them ran to their pulpits and Web sites to get on the right side of this issue, but there was no way to hold both truths together in a position that was both acceptably liberal and coherent. “At some point in our lifetime,” said George Clooney, “gay marriage won’t be an issue, and everyone who stood against this civil right will look as outdated as George Wallace standing on the school steps keeping James Hood from entering the University of Alabama because he was black.”
To the opponents of Proposition 8, this kind of analogy is a rallying cry; but as white Hollywood has recently discovered, to the blacks who voted for the measure, it’s galling. Comparing the infringement on civil rights that gays are experiencing to that suffered by black Americans is to begin a game of “top my oppression” that you’re not going to win. The struggle for equality — beginning with freedom from human bondage (see: references to the book of Exodus at the Gospel Brunch) — has been so central to African-American identity that many blacks find homosexual claims of a commensurate level of injustice frivolous, and even offensive.”
What is a bit confusing is that Flanagan and Schwarz seem to be referring more to Hollywood, the place, and even then as a catchall for Los Angeles’ liberal elite encalves including the Westside and Hancock Park. Hollywood, the industry, actually was far less involved in Prop 8 than Silicon Valley.
The Nanny for Senate?: Fran Drescher has her eyes on Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat.
El Coyote Manager Resigns: Chris Lisotta of Frontiers reports that a manager of El Coyote restaurant in Los Angeles has resigned after giving money in support of Prop 8. The restaurant had come under fire after the passage of the proposition, and demonstrators even staged a protest outside the eatery. The director of a Sacramento theater and the leader of the Los Angeles Film Festival also have resigned after their contributions to Prop 8 raised the threat of boycott of their orgs.
In Case You Missed It: Chris Matthews expected to forgo Senate bid and re-sign with MSNBC.
In Case You Missed It II: Jack Black and the stars of the Prop 8 video appear on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.”