Sean Penn totally disses President Bush in the Washington Post
October 19, 2002 3:30 PM   Subscribe

Sean Penn totally disses President Bush in the Washington Post but because he did it in a full page ad and not an op/ed column it is totally unlinkable to those of use on the web, and therefore dies on the vine. Two questions: How can one find the full transcript to Penn's advertisment, and why is it that only Republican movie stars are allowed have their voices heard in political discussions?
posted by tsarfan (64 comments total)
 
why is it that only Republican movie stars are allowed have their voices heard in political discussions?

Uhm...what planet do you live on?
posted by Durwood at 3:37 PM on October 19, 2002


and what does madonna think?
posted by quonsar at 3:38 PM on October 19, 2002


Sean Penn vs. Woody Harrelson in a caged death match. Then Hulk Hogan can run in and kill whoever's left standing. Whatcha gonna do brother?!?
posted by Stan Chin at 3:41 PM on October 19, 2002


While I basically agree with Penn's stance here, I think this was a dumb idea that is only going to get the wrong kind of publicity. (cf Rosie O'Donnell, Martin Sheen, Woody Harrelson)
posted by Hildago at 3:46 PM on October 19, 2002


why is it that only Republican movie stars are allowed have their voices heard in political discussions

Let's see, in the last week alone we've had Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson, and Barbra Streisand's escapades. I don't think democratic stars are having trouble saying what they think. And where exactly are all the Republican voices that supposedly dominate the discussion? Hellooooo...
posted by chris24 at 3:48 PM on October 19, 2002


And where exactly are all the Republican voices that supposedly dominate the discussion?

In the White House, the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, maybe next month in the Senate too.
;)
posted by matteo at 3:54 PM on October 19, 2002


that ronald reagan just never shuts up.
posted by quonsar at 3:56 PM on October 19, 2002


What's worth noting is that Bill O'Reilly (yes, THE FACTOR) said on his show last night that he phoned Sean Penn and spoke w/ him on the phone about coming on his show and talk about the ad and his viewpoint. According to O'Reilly, Penn asked "how much money are you going to pay me?" O'Reilly said they didn't pay guests, and Penn said no-thanks. Talk amongst yourselves.
posted by tdominey at 3:58 PM on October 19, 2002


the perfect putdown, and o'reilly didn't even get it.
posted by quonsar at 3:59 PM on October 19, 2002


Uh, matteo, I think he was refering to the Republican movie stars cited by the poster in the post text itself.
posted by HTuttle at 4:05 PM on October 19, 2002


the perfect putdown, and o'reilly didn't even get it.

Just a hunch, but I bet you 'get' alot of things noone else seems to get.
posted by HTuttle at 4:07 PM on October 19, 2002


HTuttle, a guess: I believe that quonsar's point is that Penn was insinuating that he would only appear on O'Reilly's show if paid to do so...in the same manner that if someone asks you to do something really abhorrent you'd retort 'Only for a million dollars'.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 4:17 PM on October 19, 2002


This would be the same "celebrity" numb nut who beat up a photographer for taking his picture?
posted by paleocon at 4:23 PM on October 19, 2002


paleocon: of course, past sins invalidate modern opinions. Remember that speeding ticket, college weed, or other lapse of judgement that invalidates yours.
posted by shagoth at 4:32 PM on October 19, 2002


Why should Penn go on O'Reilly for free? O'Reilly doesn't. If Penn knows anything he knows that O'Reilly''s audience tunes in to hear what they already believe, and that O'Reilly's "discussions" are tightly-controlled smear jobs that play to that particular gallery. Why should Penn give him that for nothing?
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:34 PM on October 19, 2002


So where can we find it? I would love to see this thing in print!
posted by Raichle at 4:48 PM on October 19, 2002


Well, it's tough, Raichle. The Washington Post doesn't have a very high circulation, and I can't imagine what city you could find a copy in. :)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:54 PM on October 19, 2002


If I can't be told what to think by Sean Penn, how will I know what's right and wrong? I for one, welcome our new ex-madonna-loving thespian overlord(s).
Seriously though, any discussion on the subject is worth more than none, even if it is by "hollywood".
posted by blue_beetle at 5:02 PM on October 19, 2002


Does anyone have a scanner and the Post in question?
posted by nathan_teske at 5:06 PM on October 19, 2002


I've seen many prejudiced comments on this site regarding actors. Why ridicule the opinions of an entire group of people because you don't respect their career choice?

The next thing you know we'll ignore the opinions of the fools in congress because of their career choice. Geez, any idiot can be a politician. The only requirements for that job are that (1) you're alive, (2) you've lived a certain number of years, and (3) you haven't been convicted of certain offenses.

Ok, maybe ignoring a politician's opinion does make sense. But only politicians.

And TV commentators. politicians and TV talk show hosts. Just them.

And lawyers. Just those three. Politicians. Talk show hosts. and Lawyers.

Just those three. Just them and....
posted by ?! at 5:08 PM on October 19, 2002


HTuttle, o'reilly panders to the national enquirer type. one-sided politics shot through with breathless, gossipy sensationalism, not because he gives a rip about politics, but because he cares about money. like limbaugh, an entertainer disguising himself as a news source. penn PAID to get his words in a newspaper unspun, a paid advertisment is the only way to guarantee they'd still be his words when they got into print. telling o'reilly what he did puts the transaction at exactly the level of basic commerce, removing any phony semblance of independent inquiry by a free press. and come to think of it, i bet o'reilly DID get it. and i'll bet it burned his ass.
posted by quonsar at 5:10 PM on October 19, 2002


I have a scanner and the ad! two ticks and I'll have it in
posted by puffin at 5:10 PM on October 19, 2002


Anyone can see the ad by going to http://ee.washpost.com/ and signing up for a 2-week free account to the Post's electronic edition. It ran yesterday.
posted by photoslob at 5:21 PM on October 19, 2002


tick...


tick...
posted by quonsar at 5:24 PM on October 19, 2002


Ok! I have it uploaded here for anyone who wants to read it -- apologies for sloppy pasting, my scanner is small and the ad was huge.
posted by puffin at 5:27 PM on October 19, 2002


Well, let me tell you what bothers me about it. Since Sean Penn was the one to take out the ad, there's going to be an immediate leap of logic in a lot of people's minds, so that they say "only people like Sean Penn* hold those kinds of beliefs". This is bad, because what I view as a silent majority of people who know in their hearts that what Bush is doing is wrong will withdraw from that association.

* -- I think the public perception of Penn falls somewhere along these lines: "rich, liberal, hollywood, drug use, madonna, assaults people, vaguely eccentric, makes artsy movies, out of touch"
posted by Hildago at 5:28 PM on October 19, 2002


It's an articulate, well-written letter of impassioned personal, politics (with party leanings, of course, but not out to gain votes or contribution dollars).

Which is more than can be said for media 'debate' elsewhere.

Even if somebody reads it only because they're wryly curious whether he says 'Hey, I'm the kinda guy who can understand the benefit of a good slap' - well, surely that can only be a good thing. Celebrities are not accountable, are not voted in - but they are strangely listened to. Why not go with that?
posted by klaatu at 5:38 PM on October 19, 2002


what I view as a silent majority of people who know in their hearts that what Bush is doing is wrong will withdraw from that association.

Do you really think their beliefs are that shallow?

HTuttle, O'Reilly's ratings would almost certainly go up with a Sean Penn appearance, which is money in O'Reilly's pocket. Penn knows that. He also probably knows that O'Reilly is fundamentally a bullying ass on television, even if he gets many things right along with his usual blatant distortions and mad spinning. If Penn doesn't want to help someone like that boost his ratings for free, good for him. What, does O'Reilly now think he has a right to get celebrity guests to appear on his show?
posted by mediareport at 5:47 PM on October 19, 2002


I thought the letter stunk. He should have asked Noam Chomsky to write a letter and got Tom Hanks to sign it. Maybe have some drawings by American kindergarten children showing bombs dropping on Iraqis children... I'm sure Miramax would pay for the advertising space.
posted by disgruntled at 5:57 PM on October 19, 2002


The only requirements for that job are that (1) you're alive, (2) you've lived a certain number of years, and (3) you haven't been convicted of certain offenses.

Which ones? At what point in your life?
posted by raysmj at 6:03 PM on October 19, 2002


Btw, thanks, puffin.

disgruntled, you should try making an actual argument sometime. It really helps.
posted by mediareport at 6:17 PM on October 19, 2002


Do you really think their beliefs are that shallow?

No comment on the depth of their beliefs was made or implied. I'm saying that people are often unwilling to express opinions if they think they're going to get ridiculed for doing it. I don't think I need to google up evidence for that, but I guess I could if you need it.
posted by Hildago at 6:20 PM on October 19, 2002


It's an articulate, well-written letter of impassioned personal, politics (with party leanings, of course, but not out to gain votes or contribution dollars).
Oh sure, and the fact that he's mentally retarded has nothing to do with it.
posted by holloway at 6:31 PM on October 19, 2002


I guess I'm with klaatu, Hildago. It's a very respectfully-written letter, with points presented in a non-shrill, thoughtful way. I think it's a measure of how little this country is willing to tolerate debate about war that anyone could think this would spark "people who know in their hearts that what Bush is doing is wrong" to "withdraw from that association."
posted by mediareport at 6:41 PM on October 19, 2002


No problem, glad to be of help. I thought the ad was quite well-written too; it caught my eye while paging through the main section yesterday and I wondered how much of a wave it would make.

'Hey, I'm the kinda guy who can understand the benefit of a good slap' - well, surely that can only be a good thing

I hope that's what happened. The advertisement was quite noticeable as it fulled up almost an entire page except for a column to the left and a row about the same size on top -- and that text was a continuation of an article on the Washington-area sniper from the front page, so I bet a lot of people ended up at least glancing at it.

I think it was almost more important that the letter was there at all than whether it was wishy-washy, flowery or articulate. At least someone is speaking out; anything is better than no debate.
posted by puffin at 6:59 PM on October 19, 2002


I think it's a measure of how little this country is willing to tolerate debate about war that anyone could think this would spark "people who know in their hearts that what Bush is doing is wrong" to "withdraw from that association."

I was going to post a snarky reversal of that comment, but I can't make sense of the ending. You seem to be implying that all people must know in their hearts that 'all war is wrong', and should therefore speak out against it when that wrongness is pointed out to them.

Despite being raised with Vietnam anti-war values, I no longer believe that all war is wrong and that self-defense, including preemptive strikes, are in fact a moral obligation. The Ghandi quote "an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind" keeps getting trotted out, but preemptive action would result in only the aggressor blinded while placing the moral burden of proof on who act first. Inaction in the face of threat is immoral and stupid.

The presupposition that Bush is automatically wrong, and that those who might support his actions are deluded, also does not make for open debate. A lot of people still haven't gotten over the election, and the lingering 'Bush is a chimp', '5-4' and 'Gore won' sentiments are hopelessly tainting any hope of open debate about American policy. We're stuck with him, can we now address the screwed up world we're also stuck with without assuming everything our government says is a lie?
posted by joemaller at 7:53 PM on October 19, 2002


I was going to post a snarky reversal of that comment, but I can't make sense of the ending. You seem to be implying that all people must know in their hearts that 'all war is wrong', and should therefore speak out against it when that wrongness is pointed out to them.

The part you seem to be confused about is a quote from my comment that mediareport disagreed with (though for different reasons than you), so I'll respond.

When I say that people know in their hearts that what Bush is doing is wrong, I am of course referring to the very specific actions performed by President Bush with regards to wars current and foregone. The fact that war is part of those actions doesn't mean I'm trying to say that ALL wars are bad, or even that THESE wars are bad, just that the way they are being handled is wrong. Another way to phrase my statement might be "the majority of people believe that declaring war pre-emptively, ignoring pleas by the global community, failing to show evidence for the perceived danger that forms the basis of your claim for justifying that war, et cetera, is wrong".

The presupposition that Bush is automatically wrong, and that those who might support his actions are deluded, also does not make for open debate.

Agreed. I hope the above explanation makes it clear that no one is making that presupposition. Or at least, not me. In fact, I'm making an effort not to say anything about Bush, as a sort of early New Year's Resolution. Everything I said in the original post was intended to refer only to my feelings about why Penn's letter was doomed.

We're stuck with him, can we now address the screwed up world we're also stuck with without assuming everything our government says is a lie?

Some would argue it's wisest to do both.
posted by Hildago at 8:16 PM on October 19, 2002


A lot of people still haven't gotten over the election, and the lingering 'Bush is a chimp', '5-4' and 'Gore won' sentiments are hopelessly tainting any hope of open debate about American policy. We're stuck with him...

This is way off topic, but people keep saying "get over it", over and over again, as if living with what they believe is a great wrong were some kind of virtue. It's time someone spoke to that.

Some people believe that the deliberate and unlawful subversion of American democracy is a crime as serious as treason. You don't "get over" that, especially if the beneficiary of the crime gains as a result the highest office in the land and the most powerful office on Earth. No one who loves his country would "get over" that.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:20 PM on October 19, 2002


what George Spiggot said. some people are NEVER going to view bush as legitimate. election aside, his actions since 9/11 have caused many to regard him and his regime with open suspicion if not gape-mouthed dismay. get over it. move on. [cough!]
posted by quonsar at 8:42 PM on October 19, 2002


Some people believe that the deliberate and unlawful subversion of American democracy is a crime as serious as treason.

Some people believe in evolution.
Some people believe in creation.
Some people believe in God.
Some people believe in science.
Some people believe they're doing God's work.
Some people believe the Earth is flat.
Some people believe men never walked on the moon.
Some people believe in black helicopters.
Some people believe Jews control the world.
Some people believe in UFOs.
Some people believe in money.
Some people believe the government killed JFK.
Some people believe in luck.
Some people are wrong.

Some people are trying to kill you.
Get over it.
posted by joemaller at 8:48 PM on October 19, 2002


Hildago: ... a silent majority of people ... know in their hearts that what Bush is doing is wrong ...

Three weeks before a critical election, Congress handed Bush carte blanche by margins of 77-23 and 296-133. Congressmen may be many things, but fond of losing is not one of them. All but 23/31% of them perceive (a) that supporting Bush is the right thing to do, and/or (b) that supporting Bush is what voters demand of them.

mediareport: it's a measure of how little this country is willing to tolerate debate about war ...

Unwilling to tolerate debate? Mmm, same as we've been rushing to war -- for 13 months and counting. (Sorry if that was snarky.) Look, we've been debating this nonstop for months, at every level from blogs to Congress (and now it's the Democrats who are eager to change the subject). Chomsky even wrung a best-seller out of it. The anti-war side has failed to get much traction in that debate -- that does not imply that the audience is intolerant.
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 8:57 PM on October 19, 2002


?!: The only requirements for that job are that (1) you're alive, (2) you've lived a certain number of years, and (3) you haven't been convicted of certain offenses.

raysmj: Which ones? At what point in your life?

Well, for one example, you can't run for sheriff in Missouri.
posted by ?! at 9:18 PM on October 19, 2002


Now that the thread has been sufficiently derailed, several of the previous comments reinforce my point. How much "Not in my name" is actually "Not my president"? For many, the ability to judge Bush's actions are so colored by a the election's fucked up outcome that everything he does MUST be wrong. In today's world, that position is a dangerous liability.
posted by joemaller at 9:21 PM on October 19, 2002


joemaller: Some people ... ad nauseum

Some people believe Geo. W. Bush was fairly elected.

And that one is even sillier than the ridiculous list you posted.
posted by ?! at 9:24 PM on October 19, 2002


Some people believe Geo. W. Bush was fairly elected.

Oh, you've got to be kidding.
posted by oissubke at 9:44 PM on October 19, 2002


Wait a minute Joe Maller - do you really think that old that old
Bush is a chimp
meme is still alive? Go figure!
posted by madamjujujive at 10:04 PM on October 19, 2002


I'm late to the debate, and have sworn off comments in these threads anyway, but I feel compelled to say a big "Thank you" to puffin, for puttin' up the goods.
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:09 PM on October 19, 2002


<rerail>We do know this for certain: Sean Penn's writing is way better than Woody Harrelson's</rerail> :)
posted by Vetinari at 10:36 PM on October 19, 2002


seriously, though, despite the fact that Sean Penn wrote it, which I'm sure will cause some who need to hear the message the most to dismiss it out of hand, and the fact that he has the same weakness for the "won't someone PLEASE think of the children??" line that many other doves do, this letter does get a lot closer to the core of where the Iraq debate should be than most of the other lightweight stuff printed in the ('Murrican) media these days.

What we need is a letter from a nice, wholesome, unthreatening, safe-for-the-suburbs personality like Angela Lansbury in the Wall Street Journal examining the very real national security concerns raised by the possibility of making a possibly-nuclear madman and a bunch of militant Arab terrorists feel they've been put in a position where they have nothing to lose.
posted by Vetinari at 10:47 PM on October 19, 2002


Wait. Do we know for sure it was the Sean Penn, and not just some random San Franciscan named that? What if it was just some tech guy who has a common name? Hmmm?

Oh, and Joemaller, that was probably the single worst argument I've ever seen presented on MeFi. At least in the last year. Sorry, man, but I gotta wave the bullshit flag when it's necessary.
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:22 PM on October 19, 2002


For many, the ability to judge Bush's actions are so colored by a the election's fucked up outcome that everything he does MUST be wrong. In today's world, that position is a dangerous liability.

How, exactly, is it a liability? I do assume that everything Bush does is wrong. As a rule of thumb, it works well, and if the day were ever to come that he did something which turned out to be sensible, it'd be a pleasant surprise. Rather nicer than doing it the other way and suffering an endless series of disappointments.

I won't say the man is stupid, or that he's evil, but it is abundantly clear that the things which matter to me are not particularly important to him. Everything he does compromises the principles I cherish. If he approves of something I like, it probably just means that there's something wrong with it I haven't noticed yet.

We're stuck with him, can we now address the screwed up world we're also stuck with without assuming everything our government says is a lie?

Given the amazing series of lies, half-truths, and bald-faced bullshit assertions that have come rolling out of the Bush administration during the past two years, it's a fairly safe assumption. Do you see reason to think that the next two years will be any different?
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:10 AM on October 20, 2002


Some people believe Geo. W. Bush was fairly elected.

Oh, you've got to be kidding.

Oissubke--you know something we don't??
posted by mokujin at 12:11 AM on October 20, 2002


Some people believe Geo. W. Bush was fairly elected.

Some people don't really care whether he was elected fairly or not. After all, we have a President now "after eight years of not having one." And what more could America want? (Source of quote: my father. He is by no means alone in his thinking.)
posted by kindall at 12:14 AM on October 20, 2002


kindall and dad: "we have a President now 'after eight years of not having one.'"

Then I have to say...give me "no president" rather than this one.
posted by ?! at 12:48 AM on October 20, 2002


Some people believe that the deliberate and unlawful subversion of American democracy is a crime as serious as treason. You don't "get over" that, especially if the beneficiary of the crime gains as a result the highest office in the land and the most powerful office on Earth. No one who loves his country would "get over" that.

Thank you, George_Spiggott, for the most eloquent and crystalline restatement of our current dilemma I've ever come across. My hat is off to you.

About all I might add is that what's worse, the current and IMO illegitimate occupant of that office has used his power to dangerously destabilize the global situation, in ways that will take generations to recover from. Whatever algore's faults, surely he would not have screwed up so many different things in so many complicated ways...
posted by adamgreenfield at 1:11 AM on October 20, 2002


Sean Penn?? All this from an ad from Sean Penn? Good grief.

Woody Harrelson has chimed in too, al that's left is Alec frickin' Baldwin and we'd have a hat trick.

Attention all leftist hollywood blowhards: Go crawl back under your respective rocks. Pity that you equate your popularity with the public's eagerness to hear your political opinions. Stick to acting, and you'll find that most will find you relatively untalented egotistical sycophants, not pundits.

I liked "Cheers" and "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and even something Alec Baldwin was in, (I can't remember either) but *can it* with the politics.

That goes for you too, Babs.
posted by hama7 at 5:52 AM on October 20, 2002


That goes for you too, hama7.
posted by jpoulos at 6:13 AM on October 20, 2002


puffin: Bless your heart for taking the trouble to scan that for us; you get a medal for actions in the highest tradition of MetaFilter. (Matt's pony will deliver it.) I don't give a damn what Sean Penn says about anything, but if we're going to be discussing it, I want to read it! (And my reaction was the same as Vetinari's: he, or his ghostwriter, writes way better than Harrelson, or Harrelson's ghost.)

George_Spiggott: I second adamgreenfield's appreciation for your forceful eloquence. All my hats are off to you.
posted by languagehat at 7:46 AM on October 20, 2002


Sean Penn?? All this from an ad from Sean Penn? Good grief.

I wonder how looney this thread could get if it was Charlie Brown, giving his personal opinion?

According to O'Reilly, Penn asked "how much money are you going to pay me?" O'Reilly said they didn't pay guests, and Penn said no-thanks.

I pay(tax $) the politicians for their opinions to represent me, who are you folks paying?

It is free to say your opinion, which actually cost Sean here and it was done respectably. I thought this was the best part and should be asked of all Presidents, first sentence in the last paragraph and I hope of my future one's too.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:16 AM on October 20, 2002


Sean Penn's writing is way better than Woody Harrelson's

I agree -- it's a good, respectful letter by a concerned citizen (unless we equate doubts about the current White House policy to treason -- it often happens in the current political cimate)

And Penn's acting is way better, too
posted by matteo at 3:32 PM on October 20, 2002


Some people don't really care whether he was elected fairly or not. After all, we have a President now "after eight years of not having one." And what more could America want?

Your not telling me anything new, Kindall. I've heard all those comments before. Too bad more people don't have your father's honesty; then we'd all know what the real issues are.

Gee, was it only last May, that John Malkovich received a collective yawn from all of warbloggia when he threatened to kill Robert Fisk and the Labour MP George Galloway? Are these the stupid Hollywood blowhards we're talking about?

Thanks Puffin. Penn's letter is a model of civilized criticism. Much more thoughful and civil than any of the criticism Penn's received here. That says a lot.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:40 PM on October 20, 2002


thanks Puffin. strangely no one on the Web thought of scanning in this peice until you did.

weird.
posted by tsarfan at 8:36 PM on October 20, 2002


I wonder if Penn's request for money wasn't a reference to O'Reilly's past tenure as a correspondent on Inside Edition—which was notorious for paying its, ahem, guests? (I'd guess that he'd be aware of that show, and its pay-for-content tendencies, because of his marriage to the current Mrs. Ritchie.)

PS: Thank you George_Spiggott.
posted by maura at 9:00 PM on October 20, 2002


Unwilling to tolerate debate? Mmm, same as we've been rushing to war -- for 13 months and counting. (Sorry if that was snarky.)

Not particularly snarky, just ridiculous. I saw this little conservative talking point memo when it first hit, Heironymous; it was laughable then and is still laughable now.

Look, we've been debating this nonstop for months, at every level from blogs to Congress

Yeesh. Talk about the bloggers' inflated sense of importance. Since when do one-sided blogs (whose authors cherry-pick which arguments they respond to) count as sufficient political debate for America? And Joe Biden's Senate hearing at the end of July, for just one example, didn't include *any* of the most vocal and knowledgeable critics of an invasion: former ambassador to Iraq Edward Peck, former U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator Denis Halliday or former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter. Just try to find strong anti-war voices on the Committee's witness list. You can't, Heironymous, because they're not there. Instead, we get conservative scholars like Fouad Ajami, described by Salon as the U.S. media's favorite Arab expert because of his unusually harsh views of Islam.

Some debate. Calling it "nonstop" and implying that the country has fully explored these issues is a crock. I suppose you'll suggest next that since O'Reilly has already screamed at all the major anti-war spokespeople it's time to move to the next step: sending a few of my friends to die in Iraq. Whoohoo - the time for talking is done!
posted by mediareport at 6:07 PM on October 21, 2002


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