George Clooney recently hosted a campaign fundraiser that he later admitted cost “an obscene” amount of money for the donors attending the event.
The fundraiser was to raise money for Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, whom the actor supports as the next president of the United States.
Naturally, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s opponent, seized on the spectacle, which charged $33,400 per person just to get in the door and more than $353,000 per couple for “premium seating.”
When pressed on his criticism by Jake Tapper of CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, he had a chance to stand strong as a viable alternative to Clinton, and at first, it seemed like that’s exactly what he was going to do.
That’s not how it turned out, though.
“The point is, I have a lot of respect for George Clooney. He’s a great actor,” Sanders said, before adding that “big money is dominating our political system, and we are trying to move as far away from that as we can.”
So far, so good. But then…
“It’s not a criticism of Clooney, and it’s not Clooney. It’s the people coming to this event. They have an undue influence over the political process.”
Sanders’ backtracking toward this last statement makes his argument weak, and his candidacy hypocritical.
George Clooney is just as much of “the problem” as any of the event’s attendees in the same way that a gun owner allowing such easy access to their collection that a mentally ill relative can access one and go on a shooting spree is responsible for that behavior.
Clooney can go on morning shows and try to walk the fence between Sanders and Clinton by accepting the argument against his fundraiser all that he wants. In fact, he did so on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.
“I think it’s an obscene amount of money,” Clooney said. “The Sanders campaign when they talk about it is absolutely right. It’s ridiculous that we should have this kind of money in politics. I agree completely.”
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) April 17, 2016
Sounds great, but facilitators should bear as much responsibility as the perpetrators, don’t you think?
George Clooney might even believe that himself if you dig a little further into his Meet the Press interview. In it, he claims that the reason he held the fundraiser to benefit the Hillary Victory Fund was to help candidates “down-ticket.”
“What the Clinton campaign has not been good at explaining is this,” Clooney said. “An overwhelming amount of the money we’re raising is going to the down ticket — to Congressmen and Senators, so we can try to take back Congress.”
He continued, “We need to take the Senate back because we need to secure a Supreme Court Justice, who will overturn Citizens United and get this obscene amount of money out of politics, so I don’t ever have to do this again.”
(Also known as the “I am against the death penalty unless it is someone convicted of killing my loved one, then it’s okay; sorry about yours” defense.)
George Clooney isn’t doing Hillary, his party, or the country any favors by embracing a corrupt system and then saying it’s only so he can overturn it.
Bernie Sanders had every right to go after Hillary Clinton on this, but to do it effectively, he needed to go all-in and not tiptoe around it by giving guys like George Clooney a pass.
The way he handled this made it seem like he wants to talk about changing things, but not at the risk of making enemies.
Have a listen for yourself, and see if you agree.
Also, what do you think of the argument George Clooney is trying to sell in response? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via Flickr Creative Commons / AFGE]