The Democratic Party’s obsession with Hollywood celebrities was bound to blow up. The party’s reliance on the entertainment industry reached a crescendo during the 2016 presidential campaign when, according to entertainment news site The Wrap, at least 167 Hollywood elites endorsed Hillary Clinton. And these were not passive endorsements. For Democrats, celebrities became a meaningful source of money, message delivery and even a tool for crowd-building at Clinton’s anemic campaign events.
Anyway, Clinton lost and Donald Trump became president. And then came Harvey Weinstein, who, after having long been celebrated and enabled by the Democratic Party establishment, is now being exiled.
But with some 30 women accusing Weinstein of offenses ranging from sexual harassment to rape, is the Weinstein scandal big enough to cause a break between the Democratic Party and the entertainment industry? No.
In January, I cited a useful piece written by New York Post writer and editor Maureen Callahan, “Why celebrity endorsements didn’t help Hillary at all,” and her words warrant repeating: “That those who have money, fame, privilege and status and have no cause to worry — and fail to do so — can only further divide the country and alienate those who, rightly, feel unseen, unheard and looked down upon.” And after Clinton lost, Callahan wrote, “those celebrities who reacted publicly often did so with a pungent brew of self-pity, condescension and didacticism.”
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Today, rather than pause and reflect, many Democrats, led by no less than Clinton, are attempting to deflect from the outcry over Weinstein and the long cover-up of his behavior by citing Trump — as if he is equally guilty. He is not. Clinton, who is obviously conflicted on the subject as she has a history of targeting women who have accused her husband of sexual assault and of enabling the alleged serial abuser, actually said, “Look, we just elected someone who admitted sexual assault to the presidency.”
When I saw that comment, I was stunned to the point that I thought it might have been a spoof written by The Onion. The hypocrisy on display is stunning.
It is a sure sign of the Democrats’ detachment that they thought being surrounded by Hollywood’s liberal stars would deliver votes. In Clinton’s case, her appeal was so narrow that she began to rely on the rich and famous to not just provide extra flare at rallies, but also to actually be the headline attraction at her campaign events while she was just making an appearance on the sidelines.
So, what will the half-life of the Weinstein scandal’s impact be? The Democrats need Hollywood and Hollywood is legendary for this behavior. Some Democrats knew this about Weinstein, and it is safe to say they probably know it about others today. The Democrats tolerate it because they are convinced that the star power — and the money — is worth it.
The Democrats need the type of Hollywood show-ponies that Weinstein could control, in part because beyond criticizing Trump, Democrats really don’t have a lot to say. They have become beholden to the special interests of entertainment industry elites, trial lawyers, environmentalists and an assortment of groups with a grievance.
Yet they are quickly moving on from the Weinstein scandal. While some have superficially distanced themselves from the now-disgraced mega-donor, the fact is that Democrats are largely holding on to his money. According to Politico, the Democratic National Committee has so far gotten rid of only a mere 10 percent of Weinstein’s $300,000 in contributions.
But is any of this a surprise? After all, you reap what you sow. And the Democrats’ addiction to Hollywood is permanent. They are in denial. Addicts can’t kick their habit unless they are committed to doing so.
Ed Rogers worked in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush White Houses and is chairman of the lobbying firm BGR Group.