Is President Obama losing support in Hollywood?
In an interview set to air tonight, actor Matt Damon tells CNN's Piers Morgan he's unhappy with the president. Asked point blank if he thinks the president has been doing a good job running the country, Damon simply replied, "No."
"I really think he misinterpreted his mandate. A friend of mine said to me the other day, I thought it was a great line, 'I no longer hope for audacity,'" Damon said, referring to the title of Obama's political memoir. "He's doubled down on a lot of things, going back to education ... the idea that we're testing kids and we're tying teachers salaries to how kids are performing on tests, that kind of mechanized thinking has nothing to do with higher order. We're training them, not teaching them."
The criticisms count for more than standard-issue celebrity belly-aching, since Damon was one of Obama's earliest and best-known celebrity supporters during the 2008 presidential campaign. The actor and Oscar-winning screenwriter appeared at fundraisers for the Democratic candidate and hit the campaign trail on Obama's behalf.
This isn't the first time Damon has criticized Obama. Last year, the actor told reporters he was "disappointed" and "a little let down" by the president's leadership--but he was quick to add that Obama deserved more "time" to work on things. Apparently, Damon no longer feels that way.
And he's not the only one. Over the last year, a growing number of Hollywood types have publicly trashed the president's record on everything from gay rights to his failure to close a military detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
In December, actress Barbra Streisand, a prominent Democratic donor, praised Obama as "cool" and "very smart" but told CNN's Larry King that she was unhappy that the president hadn't been more aggressive on certain issues. Streisand singled out his slow progress in overturning the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays serving openly in the military. "I would have liked to have him use his executive privilege … to get rid of something like 'don't ask, don't tell,'" she said. "I think people admire real strength, even though it's misguided, you know?"
Jane Lynch, of "Glee" fame, criticized Obama for the same thing, telling London's Guardian newspaper last year that Obama was a "huge disappointment" for his handling of gay rights.
In an interview with Fox News last summer, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner said he was upset that Obama hadn't done more to end the war in Afghanistan. "We're going through the same thing as Vietnam right now," he said. "We can't please the world, and all we do is make enemies. We go in with the best possible intentions, but we make enemies."
Director Spike Lee was among those who trashed Obama's slow response to last year's devastating oil spill along the Gulf Coast, suggesting the president hadn't shown enough emotion on the issue. "One time, go off!" Lee told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "If there's any one time to go off, this is it, because this is a disaster."
Meanwhile, Robert Redford appeared in an ad for the Natural Resources Defense Council urging Obama to show more leadership on energy issues, and in a piece for the Huffington Post, he slammed Obama for not doing more to press Congress on the clean energy. "President Obama has certainly done more than any other president to advance clean energy, yet he never seemed to roll up his sleeves, bring lawmakers to the table, and work to rally the American public behind it," he wrote.
Still not everyone is jumping on the anti-Obama train. "Would I like the health-care bill to have more in it? Yes! Would I like financial reform to have more in it? Yes! Do I wish more were happening? Yes! But he's doing a pretty good job given the circumstances he walked into," "Pulp Fiction" producer Lawrence Bender told the Hollywood Reporter last year.
(Photo of Damon: Dan Steinberg/AP)