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Jewish World Review August 17, 2000/ 16 Menachem-Av, 5760

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
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Consumer Reports

Hollywood divine?
AlGore is miscast --
POOR AL GORE. Uncomfortably wedged between loyalty to his president and the ardent wish that The Big Creep would go away already, the candidate is stuck forcing an insincere smile as he waits his turn. He looks like the ignored good-boy trying to be gracious while the popular kid who cheats on exams gets the cutest date to the dance anyway.

Add to Gore's discomfort the unfortunate selection of Los Angeles as the site for this week's Democratic convention. Next to the stars -- and treading in the titanic wake of Bill 'n Hillary -- poor Al already has been upstaged. He's out of his league.

Not only do they steal the spotlight, they're preemptively draining Hollywood's coffers. A breakfast brunch hosted by Barbra Streisand reportedly produced millions for the Clinton library. Stain removers. So expensive these days.

No, Al should've had the convention in Peoria or some other heartland city where talk of "family values" and "working families" has more resonance. On the same news pages offering convention coverage this week Madonna announced the birth of her new baby. Second child, second relationship, still no marriage. Well, at least there'll be no divorce.

As for working families, it's hard to sell yourself as the voice of regular working folk when your supporters' paychecks come in the millions. Not for, say, building -- did Gore say combines? -- but for pretending. Not by their acts, but by their play-acting. Not for their deeds, but for their performances: "I did not have sex with. ..."

Not that I don't love actors. I'm a fan. I have a subscription to People. I want my son to grow up to be a fabulously wealthy movie director who takes his mother to the Oscars.

But I don't expect him on the basis of his blockbuster success to influence public policy.

Or to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom. Or to hug the president. If they were once college roommates -- or once shared a foxhole under hostile fire -- I'll make an exception. But to watch actor Tom Hanks hug President Bill Clinton because, oh I don't know, because they both love Steven Spielberg, sends me searching for Dramamine.

We love Tom Hanks. Why? We love him because he's a fabulous actor and because we love the characters he plays. I mean, Sleepless in Seattle? Big? Saving Private Ryan? Stop it. We love Hanks so much, we've made him our favorite spokesman for veterans. Because he's a war hero? No. Because, more important, he played one.

When did actors become reliable vendors of public policy? When did our nation start turning to Hollywood for direction? When did we begin to confuse thought with entertainment?

Barbra Streisand, responding once to similar questioning, said: "Why shouldn't I hold opinions? Why does my being an actress suggest that my opinions are less valid than anyone else's?"

Actors should and do hold opinions, of course, and Hollywood can and does inform public opinion in artful ways. We are entertained and often educated by movies.

But Hollywood's glitzy wealth and exhibitionist glamour is inconsistent with the serious business of running the world's most powerful country.

Just as I don't want a cute doctor with a cuddly bedside manner, I don't really want Martin Sheen in the West Wing.

The problem for Al Gore, of course, is he's a bad actor. He doesn't have Clinton's pizazz, charisma or star quality. Celebrities may throw money at him because he promises to continue Clinton's policies, but Gore will do poorly against Hollywood's star-spangled backdrop.

He will do poorly because -- unlike the president he hopes to follow and to his credit -- he's uncomfortable pretending to be someone he's not.

JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.


08/08/00:Outreach: Good strategy and long-run policy
08/04/00: A sharp look back at the Vietnam War
08/01/00: Bush's choice of grown-up Cheney is a stroke of genius
07/24/00: Fired up and grossed out over stupid Canadians
07/20/00: Lack of judgment --- our critical flaw
07/18/00: 'Progress' for women often a step back
07/11/00: School essay watchdogs cannibalize our children
07/06/00: Youths fear marriage --- blame boomers
06/28/00: Eminem might just have a point
06/21/00: Bridging the day-care divide
06/15/00: N.Y. baby case ends up with multiracial scrambled eggs
05/31/00: The war only time wins
05/25/00: The opposite of sex
05/18/00: World War II gave us our true heroes
05/11/00: Boy Crazy! stacks deck against guys
05/09/00: Finding out where the boys are
05/05/00: A born Ms. Leader -- Barbie for prez
04/25/00: From here to paternity
04/14/00: Boys should be boys, not viewed as criminals in training
04/11/00: Oh, for a standard of what is socially, morally acceptable
04/06/00: Womyn's Contempt for Commitment --- and the bastards it creates
04/04/00: Sue-happy American society is out of control
03/30/00: Duct-taped baby serves as warning
03/28/00: Stay-home parents know that their kids need them
03/24/00: No 'Great Expectations' when schools shun the classics
03/21/00: It's common sense to restrict Internet usage in libraries
03/17/00: You want to be just a mom? For shame!
03/14/00: Colonoscopy: Important, but bad TV
03/10/00: I made a mistake about trigger-locks
03/08/00: After this school shooting, no easy target for our contempt
03/03/00: Car crash helps bridge our divide
02/28/00: Nasty politics? Americans like it down, dirty
02/14/00: College testing via Lego-building -- yeah, right
02/02/00: Bubba should spare us phony love theatrics
01/26/00: What sets off Those Who Speak for Women
01/13/00: Fools in love: Premarital counseling could help school kids
01/11/00: Who funds these studies!?
12/29/99: Grandparents' rights impinge on family autonomy
12/13/99: When did fathers become fair game?
12/09/99: Don't be stupid about at-risk kids
12/07/99: Pokemon is no substitute for a father
12/02/99: Blaming the victim --- men
11/30/99: Baby-killer's story has less-than-Precious ending
11/23/99: Pendulum swings back toward discipline, responsibility
11/18/99: Put the babies first in this mighty mess
11/11/99: Skip the applause for this baby news
11/09/99: Gore could benefit from a secret in Wolf's clothing
11/03/99: Who needs 'birds and bees' when we have MTV?
11/01/99: Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say
10/26/99: Children's needs must take priority in divorce system
10/19/99: The deadbeat dad is less a scoundrel than an object of pity
10/15/99: Bullying boys ... and girls
10/12/99: Divorced dads ready to wage a revolution
10/04/99: A father's best gift? His presence
09/30/99: Sorry, guys, Faludi is no friend of yours
09/28/99: Science's new findings: Scary future for families
09/23/99: The great blurring of need and want
09/21/99:Focus on more than baby's first 3 years
09/16/99: Commentary from kids sheds no light on day-care debate
09/14/99: Fathers' group seeks to right inequities
09/09/99: Son now has a license to grow up
09/07/99: A slap in the face of domestic violence
09/01/99: No, ma'am: Legislation on manners misses the mark
08/26/99: For better boys, try a little tenderness
08/24/99:The ABC's of campaign questions
08/19/99: Male 'sluts'
08/11/99: Language doesn't excuse bad behavior
08/09/99: When justice delayed is still justice
08/03/99: Unemployment? Not in this profession
07/30/99: It's not about race -- it's about crack babies
07/22/99: Tragedy tells us what's important
07/19/99: Study denouncing fathers sends danger signals
07/15/99:'Happy marriage' belongs in the Dictionary of Oxymorons next to 'deliciously low-fat.'
07/11/99: 'Brother Man': An American demagogue in Paris
07/08/99: Only parents can fix broken families
07/06/99: America is home, sweet home
07/01/99: Tales out of Yuppiedom
06/28/99: Men aren't the only abusers
06/23/99: Is the entire country guzzling LSD punch?
06/20/99: The voice remains -- as always -- there beside me 06/16/99:Stating the obvious, a new growth industry
06/14/99: Calling for a cease-fire in the gender war
06/10/99: We owe children an apology

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