Academy Award winning actor and political activist Sean Penn has just thrown his support in the 2008 US Presidential election behind Dennis Kucinich.
In a San Francisco speech described by his PR people as “a blistering indictment of political leaders and an impassioned endorsement of Presidential proportions,” Penn threw his support behind the lesser known Democratic candidate.
The Kucinich campaign did not vet the speech.
Dennis Kucinich, who with the minimal time allotted him, once again rose up beyond the sound bite and put principal ahead of party; argued policy rather than politeness. He has been the dominant voice of integrity on issues of trade, labor, education, environment, health, civil liberties, and the one endlessly determined voice of peace.
But is he too short? Does his haircut not appeal? Is he not loyal enough to a cowardly democratic platform? Does he not appeal to the cult of personality?
And what if the answer is yes?
What if Dennis Kucinich, the most deserving and noble of candidates, the most experienced in issues of policy and the least willing to play into the politics of personal power? What if we canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t elect a man simply on the basis of the best ideas, the most courage, and the most selfless service? What does it say about our country when we canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t rally the voices of the common good to support a man, like our troops, who would die for us, who would die for our constitution?
Other recent celebrity endorsements in the race include Oprah Winfrey for Barack Obama, Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling for John McCain, Harry Belafonte endorsed John Edwards, and both 50 Cent and Barbra Streisand behind Hillary Clinton. Chuck Norris has backed Mike Huckabee in a high profile, comedic endorsement ad.
Penn first became politically active in October 2002, when he spent $56,000 on a full-page ad in the Washington Post, asking President George W. Bush to end “a cycle of violence”. He visited Iraq briefly in December of that year, Iran in 2005 as a journalist, and met with Venezuelan president Hugo ChÃƒÂ¡vez for two hours in 2007.
Penn went to New Orleans to “aid rescue workers” after Hurricane Katrina; many questioned how much of a liability an untrained worker, especially when his boat sprang a leak, would be. One website commented “just showed up with his entourage and a personal photographer with the apparent intent of just wandering around looking for a good photo op.”