The Selling Of The President
Needing to boost his donor base, President Barack Obama is banking on elite entertainers for help so often they have essentially become a cast of characters in his campaign. He is using his Hollywood access and raffling it off as a prize to others, tapping into a culture that revels in celebrity even in hard economic times.
The Devil Wearing Prada
Obama's big-name tour makes its next stop on Thursday at Sarah Jessica Parker's place in the West Village of New York City. The "Sex and the City" star, who is married to actor Matthew Broderick, is hosting a cozy $40,000-per-person fundraiser along with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.
The president and first lady Michelle Obama will then appear at a second glitzy fundraiser in Manhattan, headlined by a performance by Mariah Carey.
While Democrats have long held political and ideological ties to the TV and movie industry, the dynamic is different this time for Obama. His own celebrity has faded a bit after more than three years in the slog of governing, and some reliable donors have gotten so used to seeing him, they want more — like a real movie star.
What's more, Obama's team is getting outraised by motivated Republicans in a new, freewheeling environment, one in which wealthy donors can give unlimited amounts of money to outside political groups, known as super PACs, that can have huge sway over the presidential race.
As one counter-response, Obama is borrowing on the power of entertainers to give big bucks themselves and to encourage others to give what they can.
The strategy holds the potential for peril. It allows opponents to paint Obama as hobnobbing for dollars with middle-class angst riding high. The Republican Party lampooned Obama as tone deaf when his campaign promoted the Parker/Wintour event the same day as news broke of climbing unemployment.