It’s no secret that Vanity Fair, and particularly its publisher Graydon Carter, has a long standing beef with President Donald Trump. Carter has penned numerous essays against Trump in the last year and he spent roughly a decade mocking his tiny hands in Spy.
But a recently published piece in Vanity Fair by David Burstein — the CEO and co-founder of Run for America, a “post-partisan initiative to restore imagination to American governance” and self-described “living proof of why the Millennial Generation is so promising” — goes beyond the usual criticisms of our scandal-plagued, loud-mouth president to ask, “But, who else?”
Has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of @VanityFair Magazine. Way down, big trouble, dead! Graydon Carter, no talent, will be out!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2016
It’s true that as much as the G.O.P. is in crisis, the Democrats have failed. And the future doesn’t look bright. Who, they ask, could defeat Trump? Bernie Sanders? Andrew Cuomo? Cory Booker? It’s not looking good (Sanders will be approaching 80 in November of 2020).
The answer is increasing a logic every bit as cynical as the Republican nomination of Trump: Democrats have begun to seriously consider running celebrities of the pseudo-left. Names likes Tom Hanks, Oprah and even the Rock have been half-seriously thrown at the wall. Thankfully, none have stuck, but Burstein thinks he has one that will.
“The best way for Democrats to win is to beat Trump at his own game by choosing a candidate with equally unorthodox advantages,” Burstein writes. “A candidate like . . . George Clooney.”
Perhaps the last thing an already strained democracy facing staggering inequality (and a myriad of other challanges, e.g. healthcare reform) needs is another entertainer-in-chief. But let’s entertain Clooney cum candidate for one moment.
Points in Clooney’s favor:
- He could, theoretically, break through the noise: “Clooney is one of the few people alive who could rival Trump’s ability to attract wall-to-wall media coverage.”
- Liberals love him — a point against him depending on your coordinates on the political compass.
- He has diplomacy experience. He has spent time with Democratic Party leaders, worked with the U.N. and he got a taste of foreign policy in Darfur.
- Like Trump, he is a political outsider and comes baggage free.
- And most importantly, he is sooo good lookin’: “Clooney’s heartthrob status could also help him chip away at Trump’s 54 percent vote total among white women, a category where just a few points could tilt the whole race.”
Those aren’t bad arguments really. Clooney probably would be a candidate to be reckoned with. However, there is no indication that he is at all interested in running. The point is that if he or any other celebrity did run for the Democrats it will become harder and harder to take the U.S. seriously at a very serious moment indeed. How could anyone believe in a democracy whose answer to crisis is a jawline rather than expertise? Even Burstein recognizes this:
“While a cavalcade of celebrities with no political experience may not be a good thing for democracy, it just might give Democrats their best chance to take the White House in 2020.”
And it may well, but at the cost of lowering the Democrats into the same dog-orgy politics the jaundiced G.O.P. has so readily embraced. Democrats seem so eager to abandon democracy for self-preservation, and a celebrity presidential candidate would be the pudding’s proof.