Tom Hanks has officially and wholeheartedly endorsed Barack Obama via video.
The actor has posted video footage on his MySpace page that is humorously titled “Beware: Celebrity Endorsement.”
Lampooning the perception of celebs’ political picks, Hanks satirically says, “As an official celebrity, I know my endorsement has just made your mind up for you.”
Still, Hanks is unequivocal in his support for the Illinois senator, plainly stating, “I want Barack Obama to be the next president of our country.”
In a surprising comparison of Obama with presidents of the past, the Hollywood star invokes not only the usual Democratic presidential figures, but he also brings up the name of beloved conservative icon Ronald Reagan.
“He has the integrity and the inspiration to unify us as did FDR and Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy and even Ronald Reagan when they ran for the job,” Hanks says.
On another Obama note, it looks as though Oprah Winfrey has gone AWOL.
The last time we saw Oprah publicly supporting Democratic presidential hopeful Barack was back in February, when first lady of California Maria Shriver stood with Caroline Kennedy and Michelle Obama at a campaign rally at UCLA.
As the saying goes, in the game of politics, a few months is an eternity. Over the course of the last few months, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright “happened.”
The controversy surrounding the pastor has dominated the headlines and changed the political landscape, allowing Obama’s opponent Hillary Clinton to gain ground on the Illinois senator.
Obama sure could use Oprah’s help right about now. But where is the daytime diva? Winfrey has provided cash and media attention for Barack, as well as giving him an assist in drawing large crowds to his campaign events. But now it appears that on the eve his most critical primary contests, the Dem front-runner is Oprah-less.
Oprah could help in a major way with the Wright issue, particularly since she has reportedly spent some of her Sundays sitting in the pew of Trinity United Church of Christ where Wright preached.
Could it be that Winfrey has political cold feet?
Posts on her Web site have indicated so, as Hillary supporters have let their anger be known. Oprah has been called a traitor to her gender.
Although the ratings to her highly successful show remain unaffected, after her campaign appearances with Obama, a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll showed a 13 percent decline in her favorability rating, which went from 68 to 55 percent.
Obama even subtly weighed in on Oprah’s extremely low profile status of late, saying, “Oprah’s a dear friend — she’s got a lot of stuff going on; we’ve got a lot of stuff going on. And as I made clear even at the beginning, her endorsement and other celebrity endorsements can be useful in getting people who aren’t otherwise paying attention to politics to engage, and so that was particularly important in a place like Iowa at the beginning of this campaign.”
Indiana borders Illinois, a state in the Midwest where Oprah spends a whole lot of her time. It would be fairly easy for her to pop over the state line for a bit of Obama-boosting, even if her schedule is full.
As Oprah interviews Tom Cruise, Barbara Walters, and Cher, and she has a showdown of sandwich recipes, maybe for her friend, the gentleman who wants to be the leader of the free world, Lady O might consider skipping out of one of those oh so important TV tapings.
James Hirsen is a media analyst, Trinity Law School professor and teacher of mass media law at Biola University.
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