By Brent Budowsky - 07/28/08 05:46 PM EDT
Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) should lead a revival of the entertainment and sports worlds with a new era of engagement with stars saluting service for wounded troops, homeless heroes and American vets.
David Brooks in The New York Times was wrong when he demeaned “we are in this together” as a soft attitude with little impact. When Barack goes to Berlin and urges Europe to send more troops to Afghanistan, this is not easy, it’s hard.
If an Obama presidency challenges Americans to shared action for national unity, the impact would be immense across the landscape of our national life.
It would lift the nation and rally the people: to ask movie stars, studio heads, singers, writers, athletes, artists, trade associations, casinos and television networks to excite the entertainment and sports worlds at the center of our civic life and patriotic unity.
This mobilization of the spirit is common at historic moments of great change.
With FDR, while the free world unified to defeat fascism and our economy mobilized to build the arsenal of democracy, Clark Gable and Ted Williams battled in combat, while Bob Hope and Judy Garland performed for the troops, sold war bonds and lifted the morale of the nation.
While JFK rallied the free world and mobilized the march to the moon, Frank Sinatra led a galaxy of stars for Kennedy and his causes, such as civil rights.
These transforming eras coincided with transformations of media, as FDR rode the great wave of radio, JFK rode the tidal wave of television and, if elected, Obama will ride new waves in our times.
Men and women throughout America and the free world not only hunger for change, they hunger to be asked to act, to be part of that change.
More than 50 million American voters and consumers are either veterans, in military families or live in military communities. The outpouring of support for entertainers and athletes engaging in a Bob Hope-style, World War II-magnitude campaign for wounded troops, homeless heroes and American veterans would be huge. It would set the stage for a cultural and civic renaissance of shared national purpose.
Why not ask our stars to join an airlift for USO tours, benefit concerts, public service statements, and even support for a Patriot Bond similar to the old war bond? Why not ask arenas to donate one night for a benefit, ask television networks to donate one night for a telethon, ask lobbyists and marketers to urge their CEOs to join the American cause?
Why not use the political conventions for a “salute to service” honoring those who serve America?
From Hollywood to Broadway, from television studios to radio shows, from USO tours to concert halls, let’s rally the entertainers and athletes in our age, as FDR and JFK rallied them in theirs.
Let’s bring together the stars of stage and screen and playing fields with the heartland of America for wounded troops and homeless veterans and for the many causes that move our generation.
Like Bob Hope beginning with FDR, and Frank Sinatra during JFK, the worlds of entertainment and sports can bring us closer together and bring out the best of America.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then-chief deputy whip of the House. He serves on the Advisory Council of the Intelligence Summit and as contributing editor of Fighting Dems News Service. He can be read on The Hill Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.