Democ­racy is no ‘script’ Voight sees Obama as good ac­tor

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY JEN­NIFER HARPER / Bruce Tins­ley

Jon Voight is a sil­ver-screen con­ser­va­tive who con­sid­ers the fi­nal speech of Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton bed­side read­ing.

He is much moved by Amer­i­can met­tle, mil­i­tary vet­er­ans, his­tor­i­cal mo­ments, Old Glory and youth­ful spirit.

And he’s fierce about the state of his coun­try. Very fierce.

“Democ­racy is an ex­traor­di­nary ad­ven­ture. It’s dif­fi­cult, full of dar­ing and risk and dan­ger. But it’s the great­est gift we have,” the Academy Award-winning ac­tor said June 9 dur­ing a visit to The Wash­ing­ton Times news­room.

“The peo­ple who voted for Pres­i­dent Obama are just beginning to wake up to ex­actly what they brought in. The ‘change’ they en­vi­sioned is not the ‘change’ they have got­ten.” Mr. Voight said.

He likens the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to a Hol­ly­wood script, rife with tech­nique and craft, very com­pelling but not nec­es­sar­ily real.

“It is a very, very slick, re­lent­less cam­paign to build Obama as the an­swer to all our needs. They know what peo­ple want and they give it in a pack­age that can be read off a teleprompter. That’s not what our coun­try is based upon,” Mr. Voight said.

He of­fered a terse re­view of the prin­ci­pal player.

“Obama is a very good ac­tor. He knows how to play it. And he is very adept at cre­at­ing this ‘Obama’ — this char­ac­ter who is there when­ever the world needs some­thing,” he said.

Mr. Voight knows about act­ing — he’s been a Hol­ly­wood icon for decades, first break­ing through to audiences and grab­bing an Os­car nom­i­na­tion for his role in 1969’s “Mid­night Cow­boy.”

He won the Academy Award as best ac­tor for his role in the 1978 film “Com­ing Home” (iron­i­cally, lib­eral icon Jane Fonda won for best ac­tress in the same film). His other fa­mous 1970s roles in­clude “De­liv­er­ance” and “The Champ.” More re­cently, his turns in “Ru­n­away Train” and as broad­caster Howard Cosell in “Ali” brought him his third and fourth Os­car nom­i­na­tions.

But Mr. Voight is no cur­mud­geon rail­ing against change and pin­ing for the old days.

To cur­rent audiences, he may be best known as the fa­ther of Os­car-winning ac­tress An­gelina Jolie. But he has raised his pro­file, not just po­lit­i­cally, with a ma­jor small-screen role as Jonas Hodges in the cur­rent sea­son of Fox’s “24.”

And The Times in­ter­view was the sec­ond oc­ca­sion in two days that the ac­tor has gone af­ter Mr. Obama. On June 8, he stood be­fore the Na­tional Repub­li­can Con­gres­sional Com­mit­tee and de­liv­ered a speech to rally the party: 2012 beck­ons.

He de­liv­ered a fiery speech, in which he called Mr. Obama a “false prophet” and dubbed his ad­min­is­tra­tion the “Obama op­pres­sion” that would lead to the “down­fall” of the coun­try. “We are be­com­ing a weak na­tion,” he said in a speech that had his au­di­ence cheer­ing and won praise af­ter­ward from Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell and for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich.

At 70, the ac­tor still strides through life with pro­nounced opin­ion, bound­less emo­tion and strong faith. There is not much ar­ti­fice about him. The slim star dresses in black, his gaze is di­rect and in­quis­i­tive. His speech be­fore ap­pre­cia­tive Repub­li­cans was writ­ten on plain white pa­per, and in his own hand.

Mr. Voight ad­mires Mr. Gin­grich and praises his in­tel­lect, po­lit­i­cal con­vic­tions and down-toearth de­meanor. He frets about the safety of Is­rael. Lead­ing con­ser­va­tive talk ra­dio hosts and cul­tural ob­servers who es­pouse tra­di­tional val­ues with a mod­icum of op­ti­mism earn his grat­i­tude.

“Let’s give thanks to them for not giv­ing up,” he said.

His ad­vice to his fel­low Amer­i­cans? Read up on the lives of the na­tion’s founders, and un­der­stand that the found­ing of the na­tion was “an amaz­ing mo­ment in time,” he said.

“I have at my bed­side Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton’s fi­nal ad­dress to the Amer­i­can peo­ple, which was never de­liv­ered. But it was later pub­lished in news­pa­pers through­out the coun­try. His thoughts, his words — they are as rel­e­vant right now as they were when they were writ­ten. His warn­ings give us in­sight into what is go­ing on right now,” Mr. Voight said.

He has a per­sonal stake in the first pres­i­dent. In sleek colo­nial uni­form and white wig, Mr. Voight played Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton in “An Amer­i­can Carol,” a 2008 film that par­o­died such film in­dus­try lib­er­als as Michael Moore and Rosie O’Don­nell, among oth­ers.

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