Art by Karen Fiorito
Excerpts from Ben Affleck’s appearances on Hardball during the Democratic convention:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Dee Dee, you’ve advised candidates. How would you advise Hollywood celebrities, especially five-star celebrities like Ben Affleck, to help a candidate they cared about?
DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY, MSNBC DEMOCRATIC ANALYST: I think they’re most effective on an organizational level, doing things like helping to register voters . . . I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to have them out arguing about policy.
10 minutes later . . . after Affleck argues intelligently about policy.
MATTHEWS: Why do Hollywood people — and I’m not including you, based upon the last 10 minutes of conversation, certainly, and everything I’ve ever heard from you. Why do Hollywood people . . . presume a level of sophistication about the country’s political and public life that isn’t really justified by their study?
AFFLECK: Look, I’ll be the first to tell you that there are a lot of actors out there with more enthusiasm than they have information about what’s happening. But again, I don’t hold it against them, frankly. Everyone’s entitled to express their political beliefs. I don’t presume to tell anybody who to vote for. I am comfortable telling people what my opinions are.
But you have to look also to the media, where you have a vast majority of the loudest and most influential political voices in American media come from people who came from the entertainment world . . . Rush Limbaugh was a radio disc jockey. Bill O’Reilly came from Inside Edition. Michael Moore’s a filmmaker. Al Franken was on Saturday Night Live . . . Secondarily, the media’s also shoving celebrities down our throats all the time. As a person, I’m much more interested in what an actor has to say about something substantial and important than who they’re dating or what clothes they’re wearing or some other asinine, insignificant aspect of their life.
5 minutes later . . .
MATTHEWS: Ben Affleck stays with us right now, where he’s going to join some of our colleagues . . . Dee Dee, David and Lois, who wants to talk to Ben Affleck?
MYERS: I’ll talk to Ben Affleck . . .
GERGEN: Ben, this is David Gergen. I think a lot of us are blown away here by your vocabulary. Without being pedantic or scatological, you sure do elucidate pretty well.
AFFLECK: Well, David, I think I benefit from the same thing that helped George Bush in the debates, which is tremendously low expectations.
And finally . . .
MATTHEWS: When you saw Arnold Schwarzenegger get elected governor of California last year rather handily, in a big surprise entry into politics, a man that wasn’t even born in this country, did you have a little tingle that said, Maybe me someday — governor, senator, president?
AFFLECK: Well, I thought, at least, you know, if I did get elected, nobody could accuse me of being the worst actor who ever got elected to public office.
We will stop [the legislators] from catering to the trial lawyers instead of catering to the businesses.
—Arnold Schwarzenegger in Stockton
Is anyone in Sacramento catering to regular citizens?
—A voter after hearing Schwarzenegger’s promise, reported in The Daily News, July 25
Just a few of the way the Governor “caters to the businesses”:
• Left a loophole in closing the yacht-tax loophole — instead of avoiding state sales taxes by berthing new yachts out of state for three months, rich boat lovers will have to wait a year … but the new yachts can be brought into California waters during that year “for maintenance.”
• Let Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and other business interests make recommendations during the five-month development of the California Performance Review — the just-released blueprint to help “blow up the boxes” of state government — but didn’t invite input from public interest groups and kept the meetings secret until the report’s release.
• Negotiated workers comp reform, but didn’t require insurance companies to pass along its savings.
• Wants to make the state legislature a part-time body, leaving the running of the state to lobbyists and the governor’s business friends.
• After promising open government and to reduce the influence of special interests, has “funneled nearly a quarter million dollars of campaign money,” according to the Associated Press, “to a lobbying committee that promotes the governor’s views without disclosing how the money is spent or where it came from.”
• One anti-business act: sued small toy company for selling bobblehead doll with Schwarzenegger likeness.