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Truthdigger of the Week: David Geffen

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Posted on Feb 24, 2007
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salon.com

Truthdig tips its hat this week to David Geffen, the powerhouse producer who decided on principle to break ties with Hillary Clinton and support Barack Obama’s bid for the White House instead.  Geffen’s switch, and his strong words about the reasons for his choice, touched off a heated exchange between Clinton’s and Obama’s camps and galvanized the Democratic presidential race.

Political barb-swapping aside, the week’s events suggest that high-profile Dems like Geffen are looking for candidates to bring more to the table than dynastic ties and past experience on Capitol Hill. Actually, Geffen says Hillary’s close associations constitute a major reason why he defected from the Clintons’ ranks and offered his “strongest possible” backing for Obama (and invited his friends to do the same at Tuesday’s Hollywood bash).

Specifically, it was Bill Clinton’s refusal in 2000 to pardon Leonard Peltier, after Geffen joined the rally to grant clemency to the “wrongly convicted” Native American, in favor of financier Marc Rich at the end of his presidential tenure that drove the producer to rethink his loyalties. “Marc Rich getting pardoned?” Geffen marveled in Wednesday’s N.Y. Times interview with Maureen Dowd.  “An oil-profiteer expatriate who left the country rather than pay taxes or face justice? ... Everybody in politics lies, but [the Clintons] do it with such ease, it’s troubling.”

Geffen also critiqued Hillary’s unwillingness to admit she was mistaken in initially backing the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  In contrast, he said, “Obama is inspirational,” comes from outside the Bush or Clinton “royal family,” and doesn’t have a blight on his record when it comes to his stance on the war.  Whether or not you agree with his reasoning or his choices, it’s good to know that big backers like David Geffen are holding candidates’ feet to the fire and holding high standards leading up to the 2008 election.

Links

  • NYT: Maureen Dowd’s column about Geffen (membership wall)
  • Editor & Publisher: Maureen Dowd Column Incites Hillary-Obama War of Words
  • NYT: Geffen’s Hollywood bash
  • ABC News: Follow-up about Geffen and Peltier
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    By wangmo, April 22, 2007 at 5:28 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Sure, the Clintons made some errors, but their positive qualities in proven political leadership far up and away out-distance any mistakes they made.  They are both highly respected worldwide to this day.  They traveled to over 140 countries and got the red carpet laid out and received standing ovations wherever they went—some still to this day when Bill Clinton travels to solve problems and create new solutions to human suffering with his very successful Global Initiatives programs. 

    Sen. Hillary Clinton has a vast global understanding of politics and experience in successful diplomacy with world leaders.  She has been a lifelong dedicated public servant passionately engaged for decades in finding solutions to people’s problems with intelligent political policy.  She has worked tirelessly to effect changes in our infrastructure that builds a better society for all Americans.  It is also quite a feat that while she was in the White House for 8 years, (while under unrelenting attack by Newt Gingrich’s Contract ON America’s agenda to destroy progressive liberal politics, via well-financed personal destruction/character-assassination campaigns) to keep the power and money in the hands of the one-percenters of Corporate cronies instead of empowering the lives of America’s citizens like Progressives work to do) the Clintons worked to bring our country out of debt for the first time and into a very large surplus which Dubya sadly swiftly squandered.

    It is so awful that someone as powerful as the David Geffen would use his influence and money to pull the rug out from under the only truly qualified Democratic candidate because of a few mistakes.  Look in the mirror, Geffen.  This is one of your BIG ones.  I know you’re a brilliant man, so I can only assume that for some unstated reason it serves your personal best interest to make sure there is not a President Hillary Clinton in the White House in 2008.  Senator Hillary Clinton is the only viable choice in these disastrous times to bring our country back to authentic statesmanship rather than continue endorsing mere charismatics.  We need someone in the office of the Presidency who is extremely knowledgeable and comfortable with all things Presidential.  There’s way too much at stake to allow any well-meaning but essentially inexperienced new kids on the block into the office of Presidency right now.  President Hillary Clinton is the only viable choice.

    Report this

    By thomaspain, March 4, 2007 at 7:27 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Hillary Clinton will destroy the Democrats’ chances in 2008 the same way her husband destroyed Al Gore’s chances in 2000 with his reckless behavior.  And Bill is still being reckless.  One can only wonder what goes on when he boards “RonAir,” the private jet owned by FOB Ronald Burkle, who the New York Post has called a “billionaire playboy” with a taste for high living and young women.  The ex-president’s association with FOB Jason Epstein may be even worse (see the Smoking Gun on Epstein’s exploits, involving sex toys and teens, and possibly even rape.)  I know this is Bill and not Hillary, but Hillary’s problem with Bill is the same as her problem with Iraq:  She made a mistake and can’t admit it.

    Report this

    By james dilligaf, March 3, 2007 at 3:08 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    In a perfect world Anna Nicole Smith would be one of the New York senators…..............

    Report this

    By D'Lo, February 26, 2007 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    I also want to know why Truthdig is already throwing Hillary under the bus.  No wonder the Democrats lose all the time, when the “supporters” trash the front runner!  I think Hillary is the best chance we have and now that Hollywood’s behind Obama, she has an even better chance (the sheep don’t trust the “liberal Hollywood types”).  Geffin’s entitled to his opinion but Truthdigger of the Week?  Is the regular staff on vacation?

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    By marie2, February 26, 2007 at 10:49 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    I agree with David Geffen!  His openness about supporting Obama is refreshing and it is for all the right reasons.  I’m just hoping that if Senator Obama is voted into the White House that he will redirect the money wasted in Iraq towards more important issues such as global poverty, universal health care, and education.  For example, in 2000 191 global leaders made an agreement known as the Millennium Goals, the first of which is to eliminate global poverty now by 2025.

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    By Rapture Isajoke, February 26, 2007 at 9:04 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Hitlery? Dick Cheney in drag?
    What has Hillary done to qualify for either of those titles?
    Not the “good old days”?
    What part of full employment and a balanced budget weren’t good?
    And finally, re:  Leonard Peltier:
    Mr. Geffen has the media and distribution resources to make Leonard Peltier a cause celibre.  If this is his reason for breaking with the Clinton’s, why am I completely ignorant of this supposed tragedy?  Why has he never, to my knowledge, used his considerable resources to denegrade the Rebublican epoch we have been enduring.

    Mr. Geffen sounds like someone motivated by fear of losing their tax breaks if a Democrat takes the presidency, ergo his support of someone who has not the faintest chance of winning. Karl Rove could not have done it better, maybe he helped.

    Report this

    By Guest Name, February 25, 2007 at 11:58 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Ridiculous. This is probably the worst “Truthdigger” selection your team has ever made (at least since I began visiting your website). By giving Geffen that title you are essentially validating his criticism that the Clinton’s “lie with such ease, it’s troubling.”

    While I agree with Geffen on the pardons and have a lot of problems with Hillary’s position on Iraq, that statement is clearly a smear that only gives aide to right-wing hacks.

    Mr. Geffen… criticize… don’t smear.  And truthdig … compliment where its due… but don’t validate smears. Anyway, this is a silly issue anyway… haven’t you heard? Brittney shaved her head.

    Report this

    By Eleanore Kjellberg, February 25, 2007 at 7:55 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Presidential campaigns require candidates to amass 500 million dollars—-that in itself, is obscene—-but it won’t change, because public financing is an anathema to corporations, religious organizations and think tanks that want to dictate policy—-so in effect, we never see all the qualified candidates, we only see the few who can accumulate a fortune;  political choices and voices are limited to an “elite” that are so prevailing they silence the emergence of new and inspiring leadership, hence, we are left with a stale, limited system whose sole purpose, is to filter out the best and the brightest in favor of the wealthiest and most connected. 
       
    And since the political process is based on “bucks,” then David Geffen who has given tons of money to the Clintons, has every right to express his views about this presidential race:  “Not since the Vietnam War has there been this level of disappointment in the behavior of America throughout the world, and I don’t think that another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is — and God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton? — can bring the country together. Obama is inspirational, and he’s not from the Bush royal family or the Clinton royal family. Americans are dying every day in Iraq. And I’m tired of hearing James Carville on television.”

    Some say Geffen, became disenchanted with the Clintons after Bill pardoned Marc Rich a “big time crook” and not, Leonard Peltier, an American Indian, political activist: “Marc Rich getting pardoned? An oil-profiteer expatriate who left the country rather than pay taxes or face justice?. Yet another time when the Clintons were unwilling to stand for the things that they genuinely believe in. Everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease, it’s troubling.”

    What is especially ironic is that Scooter Libby, was Marc Rich’s attorney and helped to arrange Rich’s pardon—-what a small world.

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    By moni, February 25, 2007 at 7:44 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    FREE LEONARD! He was framed and aquitted in Milwaukee (I attended the trial) but then framed again (South Dakota ?) and incarcerated in Marion prison (indefinitely) in Illinois after that.  You would think that the Clintons, both being lawyers would have looked further into the case…were they truly concerned.  It has been a disgrace, but in-keeping with the “white man’s ways” (and apparently the “white woman’s ways”)

    Now . . . what are Hillary’s views on Guantanamo
    Prison ?  Does she believe in waterboard torture to extract information ?  Bill has been awfully friendly with “Daddy Bush” the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    Report this

    By moni, February 25, 2007 at 7:23 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    FREE LEONARD! He was framed and aquitted in Milwaukee (I attended the trial) but then framed again (South Dakota ?) and incarcerated in Marion prison (indefinitely) in Illinois after that.  You would think that the Clintons, both being lawyers would have looked further into the case…were they truly concerned.  It has been a disgrace, but in-keeping with the “white man’s ways” (and apparently the “white woman’s ways”).

    Now . . . what are Hillary’s views on Guantanamo
    Prison ?  Does she believe in waterboard torture to extract information ?  Bill has been awfully friendly with “Daddy Bush” the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    Report this

    By Los Angeles Democrat, February 25, 2007 at 4:15 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    What a bunch of baloney.

    Many of us here in Hollywood know David Geffen to be quick to throw a tantrum, a huckster who destroyed the Ballona Wetlands so he could have his offices near the ocean.

    It make sense that this con man would be in cahoots with B.S. artist Obama, and I hardly think it’s a matter of “principle.”

    Read between the lines and you’ll see that David Geffen didn’t get his way on a Leonard Pelletier pardon.  And now he’s giving payback, in typical Geffen fashion.

    If you don’t know the players, then at least have the sense to stay on the sidelines.  It makes no sense for Robert Sheer to join in on the Hillary bashing.

    Report this

    By Bert, February 25, 2007 at 3:17 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    So, who’s backing Mickey Mouse? He doesn’t have a ‘bad side’, can’t have extramarital relations, 
    instant household name recognition, never flubs a line, and he can do magic tricks!
    Plus, when you get done watching Mickey’s State Of The Union, then you can give it to your kids to watch as cartoons!

    Report this

    By anonymous, February 25, 2007 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Another thing, there’s no limit on the number of people a president can pardon, nor is this questionable power available to the president only on his last day in office.

    King George regularly pardons lots of people, mostly, it seems, drug dealers who already have served their time anyway.  These seem to be predominantly favors to families who bribe him by pimping lots of campaign donations.

    So, Wild Bill could have corrected the atrocity against Peltier on his first day in office and could have pardoned him 8 years later along with Rich—if he had wanted to.  But, native Americans and us poor left-wingers don’t wield enough power for the Clintons to give the time of day.

    Report this

    By anonymous, February 25, 2007 at 2:43 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Wild Bill’s failure to pardon Leonard Peltier was one of my big issues with him too.  And Bill owed us all an explanation for why he pardoned Rich.  I won’t make presumptions, although my speculations sure go to the same political organized crime aspects, but we deserved the rationale.

    The Clintons seem to agree with King George when he said in 2002 (?) that he didn’t think he had to explain anything to anybody, that if anything, it’s the rest of us that have to explain ourselves to him.  Sounds like Hillary wants Geffen to explain himself to her but she owes no one any explanations for anything.

    So, I’m glad Geffen did what he damn well felt like.  Hillary can take a flying leap.

    Report this

    By Hilda Turner, February 25, 2007 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    The prosperous in this country remained prosperous during the Clinton years. The middle class and poor saw no gains. The poor actually lost ground. Now we have an imperial Queen, who thinks that because of her marriage to Bill, she is somehow next in line to the presidency. We live in a democracy and her shrill whining that Senator Obama give back money from a man that they gladly accepted from is the height of hipocracy! We need NEW blood in this country. Someone with vision and hope and new direction. Unfortunatly Senator Clinton does not embody any of these attributes. Its clear she is only self serving with no understanding of the needs of the people.

    Report this

    By Chris Keledjian, February 25, 2007 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Oh come on! Geffen as Truthdigger of the Week? The ruthless billionaire who amassed his fortune by being a professional asshole his entire life? He’s a college dropout, he LIED his way into a job with the William Morris agency by claiming a degree from UCLA (now, of course, he’s bought his academic respectability; his name disgraces many of the buildings on and around the Westwood campus), as a media mogul he’s been a parasite profiting from the creativity and imagination of others (thanks for overseeing the decline and eventual suicide of Kurt Cobain, Dave). In his biography of Geffen, Tom King, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, wrote, “Playing fair, Geffen had learned, was difficult and time-consuming; lying, on the other hand, was easy and effective.” Why the hell is Truthdig honoring this accomplished liar? Geffen, in accusing the Clintons of chronic lying, is only projecting his chief attribute.

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    By Rion the Lion, February 25, 2007 at 12:35 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    The real truth “dig” here is Leonard Peltier.  While democrats bicker, progressives point fingers and simultaneously ask everyone involved to hold hands, and conservative talk radio violently laughs out loud, hardly any major news outlets (or even alternative presses for that matter) have mentioned the Peltier Factor as was made clear from Geffen’s interview.

    Never mind the human rights violation and imprisonment of an innocent Native American, let’s get back to the bickering…

    Report this

    By WCG, February 25, 2007 at 11:59 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    David Terris is absolutely right. Why is Truthdig praising David Geffen? I prefer Barack Obama myself right now, but I’ll certainly support Hillary Clinton if she gets the nomination. She’d be a million times better than any likely Republican candidate, after all. You can’t possibly think it’s a good thing if Democratic candidates start feuding among themselves and throwing dirt that will come back to haunt the eventual nominee.  We desperately need a positive campaign for the Democratic nomination. Or would you like to see another 8 years of right-wing extremism?

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    By G. Anderson, February 25, 2007 at 11:33 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Mr. Geffen is right.

    Too many Democrats have a delsusional view of Hillary Clinton and her husband. For them, Mr. Geffens’s insight was like a slap.

    For many Democrats, Bill Clinton’s presidency was not the “good old days”, they believe it to be.

    Things might have been different, if she had done someting differently, but instead she’s remained just as plastic and contrived as ever.
    while William remains lurking in the back ground with the same “winning smile”, he alwayss wore.

    No one wants that again.

    Here we are in the ruins of our country, without a plan, or a solution, plotting a popularity contest, instead of greiving for the loss of our children in Iraq.

    While 200,000 vets are homeless. What about them?

    Report this

    By cse, February 25, 2007 at 10:13 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Hillary is Dick Cheney in Drag

    http://coldsteeledge.com/cheney_in_drag.htm

    Report this

    By snafu53143@yahoo.com, February 25, 2007 at 6:34 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Yup, just what we need, liberals attacking liberals. I have nothing against Obama, but then I can see nothing for him either. Hillary, not my fave either. But any one of the Democratic candidates is waaaaaaay better than any one of the Republican candidates. Conservatives will be attacking all Democratic candidates non-stop for the next year and a half. Why are so-called progressives helping them?

    Report this

    By 127001, February 25, 2007 at 3:34 am Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Thanks to Comment #55200 by Mark Dolce for pointing out the controversy about Leornard Peltier, and one fine example of the civil rights violatiosn in this country! I was a country employee in MN during that outrageous mess, with coworkers directly involved in the AIM movement as well. It was an atrocity, and I’m still convinced based not only one what I saw and heard thru the media, but the “whispers” as well, that the FBI shot their own and framed Peltier. With what has come out in the three decades since, including the probable setup or involvement by the FBI in the OKC bombing, how could Peltier still be in jail. We’ve gone from bad to worse.

    Story networking the OKC issue:
    http://www.civilgideon.com/portal/index.php/site/article/wolf_and_dog/

    I’ll be putting Peltier in my “Stories of Injustice” category, and including him in the “Stories of Courage” as well. He shouldn’t have spent one damn day in jail!

    As for Geffen (sorry, I got distracted; Peltier’s story pushes my “helpless outrage” button), when I heard what he said all I thought was he was stating a personal opinion. The fact that it caught so much attention made me raise my eyebrows that certain others’ buttons got pushed too. IMHO Hilary is a bad choice all around, but its going to take more than who is elected as President next to get all the foul-smelling twits and twats out of positions of authority.

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    By Christopher Robin, February 24, 2007 at 9:43 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    BBC news Feb 22 2001 “Hillary ‘shocked’ over pardon scandal”
    Link

    BBC news Feb 15 2001 “The Rich affair: A tangled web”
    Link

    BBC news Feb 22 2001
    “Clinton pardons: Cast of characters”

    Link

    Report this

    By David Terris, February 24, 2007 at 7:41 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    Why is Truthdig taking sides between Hillary and Obama at this early juncture of the campaign?  I’m not enthralled with Hillary by any means, but if the Democrats are going to throw trash at each other with a year to go before the primaries, we’ll wind up with another Republican in the White House after rank and file independents bail out.  Democrats should be throwing trash at Republicans instead of each other.

    Report this

    By Pat, February 24, 2007 at 5:57 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    I really like the way that Geffen took Hitlery to task. I hope he can be as objective about Obama. What America really needs is not candidates who can control their supporters. What we need is more supporters willing to critically confront these candidates. and instead of attacking on personality issues, as Geffen did, I would have liked it better had he confronted the Clinton’s on policy issues. Obama too.

    Both of these two candidates are gleeful at all of the press they have gotten this week about trivia. For them both, anything like this is better than having to talk policy.

    christ people, Hillary promises to return to the authoritarian Clinton days of ever higher world record prison populations. While Obama brags about wsponsoring laws that the Justice Department tells us have given Mexican drug cartels new product lines into the veins of American children.

    Barack Obama; Assassin of Youth

    Doesn’t anyone care about reality? Are politics in America only about personality and the horse race?

    This presidential race is already shaping up to be one big delusion. AGAIN!

    Report this

    By Mark Dolce, February 24, 2007 at 4:49 pm Link to this comment
    (Unregistered commenter)

    I am glad the controversy revolving Geffen and Clinton (both of them) and Obama involved the publicized name of Leornard Peltier. He should be freed. He was skipped by Bill Clinton when he made his list of pardons before leaving office. Out of this recent posturing and positioning and subsequent petty discussion between Geffen, Obama and Hillary Clinton there is a more serious issue to pay attention to - Leonard Peltier - and human rights violations in America.

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