This is the first column in a new series by The Creative Coalition’s Robin Bronk. Every Wednesday, Robin will get a different Hollywood star to reveal how he or she would use five private minutes with the president.
Robin Bronk: If you had five minutes in the Oval Office with President Obama, what would you discuss with him? What issue would you like him to know about?
Harry Shearer: Two facts having to do with the rebuilding of the “hurricane protection system” in New Orleans by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Fact one: On his desk, since June 9, 2009, has been a report from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel validating a whistleblower complaint from inside the Corps to the effect that the new pumps at the three outfall canals which caused the majority of the flooding of the city are defective. Fact two: The Corps has announced plans to proceed with an option for a “permanent” solution for those canals, Option 1, while it describes Option 2 as “technically superior.”
RB: If you could give President Obama one piece of advice, what would that be?
HS: Instead of saying the Wikileaks 90,000 Afghanistan War documents are “old news,” pretend you’re surprised by the duplicity and intractability of the governments in the AfPak region, and use it as a reason to begin the withdrawal early.
RB: If you could ask President Obama one question, what would that be?
HS: Shouldn’t healthcare reform, an expensive reform with no discernible benefits to most Americans until long after your reelection year, have been attempted in the second term, after you had an aura of invincibility that might have invited some Republicans to think twice about opposing you?
RB: Would you ever consider a political career?
HS: Never. I worked in the California State Legislature for a year, and I still can’t get the smell of the sausage out of my nostrils.
Harry Shearer is a comic personality, an author, director, satirist, musician, radio host, playwright, multimedia artist and record-label owner. Shearer plays a stable of characters on “The Simpsons” — most notably Mr. Burns, Smithers, Flanders, Rev. Lovejoy and Scratchy. His film work includes “For Your Consideration,” “A Mighty Wind” and the upcoming documentary on why New Orleans flooded, “The Big Uneasy,” which premieres across the country on Aug. 30 — the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina — and has a sneak preview in Washington on Aug. 11.
Bronk is a seasoned Capitol Hill strategist and advocate. She started her career at The Creative Coalition, a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group for the arts and entertainment industry, in July 1998. During her tenure as CEO, Ms. Bronk has taken The Creative Coalition from a New York-based entity to a national organization. www.thecreativecoalition.org