Wash Post: How badly did Obama Ed Secretary Duncan want to talk to Matt Damon?

Via the Washington Post, it looks like someone is paying attention to Matt Damon’s increased visibility. And that someone has a name: the Obama Administration.

Damon has recently made a splash with his smart, sharp comments about education (his mother’s a teacher, a college professor in fact).

And a splash has been made for him by Michael Moore, who suggested Damon as a third-party candidate to run against Obama.

(For my money, Damon would make a better primary candidate. For a short explanation of the strategic difference, see here.)

So this is the Post’s Valerie Strauss noticing that Obama has noticed:

It turns out that people in the Obama administration made several attempts to reach actor Matt Damon just before he spoke at last month’s Save Our Schools rally in Washington D.C., blasting education policies that focus on high-stakes standardized tests.

According to two people familiar with the efforts, the administration tried to arrange a meeting with Damon and government officials, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan, before the July 30 march. … Damon declined all of the requests.

This is not too long after President Obama took a shot at Damon in his Correspondents Dinner address. Again, Valerie Strauss reporting:

Damon, during a March interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, said he was “disappointed” with Obama’s presidency for a number of reasons. … Last Saturday night, Obama, who targeted a number of his critics in his speech, said this in mocking response to Damon’s “disappointed” remark:

“I’ve even let down my key core constituency: movie stars. Just the other day, Matt Damon — I love Matt Damon, love the guy — Matt Damon said he was disappointed in my performance. Well, Matt, I just saw ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ so…right back atcha, buddy.”

Back to the original issue — the administration’s desire to meet with Damon — the Post has this to say:

I’ve said before that it is fair to wonder if the sudden interest was akin to the administration’s efforts last summer to blunt criticism of Obama policies when a coalition of civil rights groups released a framework for education reform. In the few days before the framework was released, administration officials met with some of the coalition leaders, and a few of them backed off their criticism. [emphasis added]

If that was what the officials had in mind with their outreach before the teachers march, it didn’t work.

This is not the first time that Obama has used Cabinet-level surrogates to pressure opponents.

Most recently, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan was charged with putting pressure on NY AG Eric Schneiderman to support the BoA settlement “whitewash” and, in effect, back off his whole mortgage fraud investigation.

Tick, tick, tick.


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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