Sarah Jessica Parker wants President Barack Obama to win.
So much so that she is holding a raffle to attract small-dollar donors. The winner gets to have dinner with her, President and Michelle Obama and Vogue editor Anna Wintour at Parker’s house on June 14.
The ad featuring Parker aired three times on Sunday night during the MTV Movie Awards. In it, Parker calls Obama “that guy.”
“Okay, the guy who ended the war in Iraq, the guy who says you should be able to marry anyone you want, and the guy who created 4 million new jobs, that guy…” she says. She adds, “Because we need him and he needs us.”
Parker, known for her Manolo Blahnik-wearing character Carrie Bradshaw from “Sex and the City,” may not have the loyal following she did a few years ago, but the ad got people buzzing on social media – and not all of it was good.
One tweet said, “Young people want Jobs in the City, Paychecks in the City.” Many said they no longer liked her as Carrie if she supported Obama. Many critics insulted Parker’s looks – repeatedly. (Hello, calling civility.) Others made fun of Obama attending a dinner with an actress. (Reminder: Two commoners who win the contest will also be there.)
None of this backlash is surprising.
At the 2004 Republican convention, women wore T-shirts that said, "Pro-Manolo, Pro-Bush" and "Carrie Doesn't Speak for Me. Neither Does Kerry." The recoil hit Wintour on Friday, the day the latest dismal job figures were released, when her campaign video for Obama was released. Republicans said Obama was out of touch having “The Devil Wears Prada” Wintour – the editor of the glossiest and glitziest magazine in the world – promote a dinner.
Isn’t that a tad hypocritical considering that Ann Romney wore a $990 designer T-shirt on television to discuss her husband’s campaign? Oh, and last week, the Romney campaign promoted a fundraising dinner, too. The winner gets to have dinner with Romney and Donald Trump, a gazillionaire real estate magnet and, yes, a celebrity.
To connect the dots a little more, Wintour once talked Trump into letting fashion designer Marc Jacobs, early in his career and needing a break, use the ballroom of Trump's Plaza to host a show. Trump has also attended many events hosted by Wintour. In celebrityland, the degrees of separation are very small.
America, and politics, have always been a bit nutty about celebrities. Ronald and Nancy Reagan were Hollywood stars before they ever hit the White House. One of the most famous images of Richard Nixon was snapped with Elvis Presley. The Kennedys loved Marilyn Monroe, and she loved them.
In 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt invited many celebrities including upper-crust Katherine Hepburn to Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill cottage in Hyde Park to discuss a national radio show about the New Deal. Was Roosevelt out of touch? After all, most of the celebrities who were touting the president’s new program had much more money than those still reeling from the Great Depression.
Even in 1852, Nathaniel Hawthorne (yes, there was a time when writers were celebrities) wrote a campaign biography for his old friend Franklin Pierce.
Americans love celebrity. But this new method of fundraising – stars touting a cheap lottery to meet a politician – seems a speck unseemly. Or is it? It could be argued that such a low-dough amount allows the common folk the chance to hob-nob with the Obamas, Parker and Wintour, or Romney and Trump, depending on your political disposition.
Access to the president has been for sale for a long time, but ads like this make the transaction embarrassingly obvious.
Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt.” Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker