Camryn Manheim

My 5 Minutes with the President

Camryn Manheim is a Golden Globe-nominated and Emmy award-winning actress who is also an activist. Manheim is best known for her roles as Ellenor Frutt on ABC’s “The Practice,” Delia Banks on CBS’s “The Ghost Whisperer” and Gladys Presley in the CBS miniseries “Elvis.” Manheim is also a New York Times best-selling author for her biography Wake Up, I’m Fat, which details her life as a plus-size actress with candor and humor. Manheim has two films in production, including a drama, “Fort McCoy,” and a comedy, “Without Men.”

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?
CAMRYN MANHEIM: The golden age of America seems to be over. The 20th century was surely the “American century.” But the 21st century belongs to others. Prior administrations are mostly responsible for the decline of our intellectual, economic, moral and military prowess, but the Obama administration does not appear to appreciate the magnitude of the problem. The U.S. has failed to exert leadership on the most pressing problems of the 21st century: climate change, world hunger and violent conflicts, especially [those involving] the Middle East and Africa. We have failed to support the rule of law because we have let war criminals from the past administration get a free pass. At the present rate, the U.S. will soon be, or already has been, eclipsed by other nations in terms of international influence, moral strength, economic output and quality of life.

More than any other thing, the 2008 election was about saving our future and not in preserving the status quo. Many of us who strongly supported the president have been disappointed in his ability to get us back on track. Yes, he’s done a much better job than any Republican would have. But we’re in such a hole that it simply hasn’t been enough. He needs to earn his Nobel Peace Prize. He needs to save the planet.

RB: If you could give President Obama one piece of advice, what would that be?
CM: Act as if he were going to be a one-term president. His biggest enemies are the Democrats in Congress who seem to care only about their own reelection prospects. Obama needs to set an example. Act courageously; don’t look at the electoral map or worry about campaign contributions from Wall Street. Just do the right thing. Save the planet.

RB: If you could ask President Obama one question, what would that be?
CM: If he didn’t have to worry about public opinion, Fox News or the forces of evil in Congress, what would he do to save the planet? Why hasn’t he done it?

RB: Would you ever consider a political career?
CM: Only as a last resort; only if no other politician can rise above self-interest and the politics of pragmatism; only if saving the planet were more important than saving my political career. Oh, I think we’re there now.

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, Bronk has taken The Creative Coalition from a New York-based entity to a national organization. www.thecreativecoalition.org