Obama and Hollywood: The Honeymoon Is Over

Damon is latest celebrity on the left to express disappointment in president.

March 4, 2011, 9:51 AM

March 4, 2011— -- The honeymoon is apparently over.

Actor Matt Damon, one of the liberal elite's first celebrity Obama backers, told CNN's Piers Morgan Thursday that he has been disappointed in President Obama's performance.

Asked if he was happy with the man he once so vocally supported, the actor responded, "No. I really think he misinterpreted his mandate. A friend of mine said it the other day and I thought it was a great line: 'I no longer hope for audacity,'" a take on Obama's "Audacity of Hope" book title.

On Afghanistan, Damon said he doesn't believe the "mission there has been very well articulated. And I think it would help to kind of reframe the way we're thinking about being there and why we're there."

But Damon is not the first -- nor, surely, will he be the last -- of Obama's high-profile Hollywood supporters to express disappointment in the president's accomplishments.

Barbra Streisand appeared on "Larry King Live" -- hosted by Morgan's predecessor -- in December where she complained about both Obama specifically and Democrats in general.

She conceded that Obama "has an open mind; he has an open heart. And he's cool and he's very smart." But Streisand said she was disappointed in him for not having "used his executive privilege ... to get rid of 'don't ask, don't tell,'" the policy barring openly gay Americans from military service.

Streisand said she went to Europe during last year's midterm elections because she didn't want to be around for a "bloodbath."

The substantial losses her party suffered were a result of "a mistake on the Democrats' part that they have not gotten their message across in communicating all that they have done that is good," she said

Her take on the tax-cut compromise? "I mean, I'm one of those people who are going to benefit," she replied. "But it's not fair to working people in America. It's just not fair."

Of course, Hollywood is hardly a monolith. And many of the president's supporters continue to stand by their man, among them George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey.

Appearing on "Morning Joe" with Joe Scarborough last month, Winfrey -- a longtime ardent supporter -- urged Obama's critics to show some level of respect" for the president, even when they disagree with him.

"I believe that what he really wants is for this country to be greater, stronger more innovative. Those principles are what really enforces his beliefs," the queen of daytime TV said, quipping that, "Everybody complaining ought to try [being president] for a week."

Damon, for his part, expressed a different sentiment Thursday. On the president's State of the Union address last month, Damon said, "He's doubled down on a lot of things. ... He didn't even say the word 'poverty.' You've got millions of people languishing in it."

Robert Redford complained last summer that Obama was not taking enough action to clean up the BP gulf oil spill.

"The voters sent Obama to Washington to be a bold and visionary leader," the actor told Keith Olbermann, the former host of MSNBC's "Countdown."

"We don't need a disaster-manager, we need a leader."

Director Spike Lee also blasted the president for his oil-spill response, or lack thereof.

"I don't know why Obama ever trusted these BP guys. They would lie to their mothers," Lee said to GQ in August. "[Former BP president Tony] Hayward does not give a [expletive]. The thing we don't talk about is that 11 Americans lost their lives and it took seven weeks to invite their families to the White House. I'm not trying to bash my man, but that's a long time."

In an echo of many criticisms leveled at the Bush administration for its response to the devastating Katrina floods in New Orleans, Lee called Obama out for "environmental racism."

"If this oil spill would have reached the Hamptons, Martha's Vineyard [where Lee summers], Cape Cod, that [expletive] would have been fixed," he said.

In an interview with the British paper Guardian January 2010, "Glee" star Jane Lynch called Obama a "huge disappointment" for not taking bolder action on gay rights.

"Shouldn't there be safeguards against the majority voting on the rights of a minority?" she asked. "If people voted on civil rights in the '60s, it would have never happened. It took somebody like [President] Lyndon Johnson going, 'F*** all of you. I'm going to do this.' Obama won't do it."

But it's not just Hollywood that has lost a lot of its love. Obama's approval ratings fell by 11 percent across the board in 2010, according to the most recent Gallup poll.

Still, with all the flack the president has gotten from the left wing of his party, one would think his moderate bona fides should have earned him some GOP respect by now.

One would be wrong. Newt Gingrich, the former congressmen who spearheaded Capitol Hill's 1994 so-called Republican revolution, has announced he may explore a 2012 bid for the presidency.

"The rule of law," Gingrich complained, "is being replaced by the rule of Obama."

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events