Drudge this morning greeted me with the announcement that George Clooney has decided not to run. I think that’s a smart choice. I’ve amused myself in the past by running through a mental list of Hollywood types who have switched from movies to political office. Unless I’m missing something, it’s always Hollywood Republicans who run for office and win. Off the top of my head, that list would include Ronald Reagan, George Murphy, Sonny Bono, Clint Eastwood, Fred Thompson and Fred Grandy. Indeed, as an old On The Media post helpfully points out, the only current Democratic politician out of Hollywood seems to be Shiela Kuehl, who serves on California’s Senate. Before that, the only other elected Hollywood Democrat I can think of is Helen Gahagan Douglas, who lives on in my mind mostly as a line in a Tom Lehrer song sarcastically lauding George Murphy.
I can’t even think of any Hollywood Dems who have run for office in my lifetime. Maybe the Gahagan Douglas debacle (Nixon successfully labeled her “Red” in 1950) scared the Hollywood types away from any effort at seeking office. That would be pretty lame, though, if a rough campaign in 1950 still had Hollywood Dems shaking in their boots. I suspect a more pragmatic reason keeps them off the ballot. The Hollywood Democrats have an incredibly effective pulpit for stating their political positions, whether its through movies, TV shows, or talk shows. They’d lose that volume and message clarity if they were wheeling, dealing and compromising in Congress. Hollywood Republicans, on the other hand, don’t send any message out from Hollywood at all, making politics a much more desirable option.