JONATHAN CHAIT AUGUST 25, 2011
I have mixed feelings about movie stars who get involved in political causes. On the one hand, it's a little sad that people need a movie star to make them interested in politics. Nobody should care what movie stars think. On the other hand, given the reality that people care a lot about what movie stars think, it's a moral good for movie stars to use their fame to direct people toward what they consider worthy causes. But when movie stars do get involved in politics, they have a real obligation to educate themselves.
That's where I have a problem with Matt Damon:
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. The sources declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.
In fact, Duncan was willing to meet Damon at the airport when he flew into the Washington region and talk to him on the drive into the city, according to the sources. Damon declined all of the requests.
If Damon knows enough about education policy to speak at a rally, then he knows enough to take a meeting with Arne Duncan and debate it. Getting a chance to make your case to policy makers is what political activists are supposed to want. That's the goal. If Damon feels he doesn't know enough about the issue to survive a meeting with Duncan with his convictions intact, then he has no business speaking at a rally.