President Obama at Hollywood Fundraiser: Politics Needs to Break Out of Cycle of ‘Dysfunction’

President Obama on Wednesday raised money for House and Senate candidates at the home of Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn and his wife Cindy, in an effort to boost Hollywood contributions in advance of what looks to be a difficult midterm election season for Democrats.

Among the 90 or so in attendance were Barbra Streisand, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Tom Rothman and James Brolin, according to a pool report. Guests had dinner under a tent in the Horns’ backyard.

Acknowledging that despite a list of accomplishments that there is still a “disquiet around the country” as well as “an anxiety, and a sense a frustration,” Obama said that “the challenges out there remain daunting and we have a Washington that’s not working.”

Obama warned of “a self-fulfilling prophesy” during a midterm election year where “people who have the most at stake in a government that works opt out of the system; those who don’t believe government can do anything are empowered; gridlock reigns, and we got this downward spiral of even more cynicism and more dysfunction. And we have to break out of that cycle and that’s what this election all about,” Obama said, in remarks that lasted about 15 minutes.

He added that his travels to other countries have led him not to “buy this notion purported here that that somehow America is on a downward trajectory. By every indicator we are better positioned than any country on earth to succeed in this knowledge economy in the 21st century. But what is absolutely true is that if we don’t make good choices we could decline, and we’re not going to make good choices unless we break out of this cycle in which dysfunction breeds cynicism, and we have to break out of it. And that happens during midterms. That does not happen during presidential elections.”

The event at the Horns’ Bel-Air home was to raise money for the House Senate Victory Fund, a joint committee set up for congressional candidates. The Horns are longtime Democratic donors, although this is the president’s first visit to their home for a fundraising event, which also included House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). Cindy Horn introduced Obama.

Obama, on a midterm fund-raising swing throughout the West Coast, said he was “in trouble at home and the reason is I told Michelle back in 2012 I had run my last campaign. But a couple of months ago, I had to let her in on a secret. And that is, ‘Honey, I’ve got one more campaign I’ve got to run,'” Obama said, as he urged donors to lend their support so the Democrats could retain the Senate and win back the House.

At one point, as he talked about the problems of inequality, a car alarm went off, and Obama quipped, “Sound the alarm, because we’ve got a problem.”

Tickets to the event started $10,000 per person, including dinner and a photo op. Those donating $32,400 per couple got listed as “sponsors” and could take part in a VIP reception. Those donating $64,800 per couple were listed as “hosts” and could take part in a “VIP clutch.”

The House Senate Victory Fund is splitting proceeds equally between the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

After the fundraiser, Obama went to the Century Plaza Hotel for the USC Shoah Foundation Ambassadors for Humanity  Gala, where the organization’s founder, Steven Spielberg, presented him with its Ambassador for Humanity Award, its highest honor. Among those attending were Toby Emmerich, Ron Meyer, Jeff Garlin, Samuel L. Jackson and Liam Neeson.

The foundation was established by Spielberg a year after the release of “Schindler’s List” to gather the stories of Holocaust survivors and witnesses, as well as those of other genocides.

Obama told the crowd at the Century Plaza Hotel that with Spielberg’s “masterful” movie in which “we were reminded that the Holocaust was not a matter of distant history or abstract horror. The voices, the memories of survivors became immediate, and intimate, became a part of all of is.”

He also talked about the “rising tide of anti-Semitism around the world,” citing attacks on Jews in western cities, “disgusting” pamphlets handed out by masked men in the Ukraine and the recent shootings in Overland Park, Kansas.

“And it would be tempting to dismiss these as isolated incidents, but of the memories of the Shoah survivors teach us anything, it is that silence is evil’s greatest co-conspirator.”

In his eloquent remarks, he said that “none of the tragedies that we see today may rise to the full horror of the Holocaust. The individuals who are the victims of such unspeakable cruelty, they make a claim on our conscience. They demand our attention, that we not turn away, that we choose empathy over indifference and that our empathy leads to action. And that’s not always easy.”

Spielberg praised Obama as someone “who has helped expose the darkened parts of humanity to a little more light.”

“In the face of acts of inhumanity, President Obama has not stood by,” Spielberg said. He cited the president’s creation of an Atrocities Prevention Board and the designation of a special envoy for Holocaust survivors.

Conan O’Brien was the emcee, and Bruce Springsteen performed acoustic versions of “Dancing in the Dark” and “Promised Land.”

Providing some jokes in what was a serious and moving evening, O’Brien turned to what has been a new part of the lexicon for Los Angeles, the Obamajam, or the traffic tie-ups that come from the president’s frequent visits, usually for fund-raisers.

“I know you left Washington 6 hours ago,” O’Brien said, addressing Obama. “But I left Burbank seven hours ago.”

Obama also is scheduled to headline a fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton on Thursday for the Democratic National Committee, before setting off for San Diego and then the Bay Area for more money-raising events.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 23

Leave a Reply

23 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Brent Dude says:

    Spielberg should be ashamed of himself for worshipping Obomba.

  2. Daniel says:

    Naturally they are, Rick. Why, all you have to do is wave the magic wand, and all of the 100-to-one anti-Obama comments just disappear. POOF! That way, new readers think their precious president is so fucking popular when the obvious majority know he is a POS.

  3. Do you really feel that there is a “left wing fascist mob” and they have invaded the US? Or are you just spouting talking points?

  4. So what are the workable plans the republicans have to address the middle class, poverty issues? When the oposition does nothing other than block and try to make the president look bad, nothing gets done.

  5. Both parties have become the parties of the elite instead of the people

  6. Jesus says:

    Lots of negative posts in here. Wake up people. Obama is improving this great nation of ours. I am very very happy. :)

  7. Kennedy says:

    I’m 44 years old and I keep thinking back to the days when I was a kid and politics didn’t have such a front and center stage in the country. The current atmosphere is designed to attack, crush and try to win while beating your political opponent. The end of this great republic is near, Obama talked a big game about uniting this country, if this was his vision we have all lost.

  8. Jesus says:

    Go Obama. We love you. You’re our hero. And Hillary 2016! Yea!!!!!!!! :)

    • Jesus says:

      Yes. Indeed! Why not? He is the greatest President. He is making America great. And he is a good family man. Very positive. I admire him being able to put up with all the negative Republicans and obstructionist! Don’t be fooled by Fox News. Check out the facts on other networks or outlets. :)

  9. Rob says:

    And basically all the deranged right wingers who clicked over here from Drudge are proving the President’s point. The prosecution rests. Thanks Drudge Report!

    • Vince says:

      How dare Drudge link articles written by various news outlets. Doesn’t he know that the free exchange of ideas and opinions is no longer permitted?

  10. GayOverPutin says:

    GOP is bringing back the McCarthy era while veterans die on waiting lists. Dems focus on jobs, healthcare, removing money and corruption in our democracy, human right. All the racists can do is say “no” to ideas that they have proposed in the past, filibuster their own bills, and go after Lois Lerner.

    Here’s the track-record of those Constitution-loving conservatives:

    *Pennsylvania Voter ID law – ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL
    *Wisconsin Voter ID law – ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL
    *Texas abortion law, which Cruz is trying to overturn – rules UNCONSTITUTIONAL
    *North Carolina ultrasound law – ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL
    *Texas same-sex marriage ban – ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL
    *Indiana anti-labor law – ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL
    *Michigan same-sex marriage law – ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL
    *Oklahoma same-sex marriage law – ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL
    *California proposition 8 – ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL
    *Virginia same-sex marriage law – ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL
    *Kansas public funding bill – ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL
    *Louisiana Act 1 bill – ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL…TWICE!
    *North Dakota same-sex ban – ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL
    *Arkansas voter ID – ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL

  11. AnitaP says:

    “prophesy” is a verb
    “prophecy” is the noun

  12. Two Buck Chuck says:

    Prophesy?

    Don’t you have an editor?

  13. Liz says:

    Never underestimate the STUPIDITY of right wing supporters.

  14. Olllie South says:

    No, the story was posted on Drudge. That’s all it takes for the Drudgebots to crawl out.

  15. lusty Infant says:

    I wonder if all the gats were concealed.

  16. footballislife1962 says:

    Good point.

  17. Don says:

    I love my president, Obama is the greatest president in our generation

  18. Being There says:

    All presidents are ribbon cutters and back seat drivers. It would not matter who you elect; they do not run this country and to think differently is to be very naïve.

More Biz News from Variety

Loading