party chat

George Clooney Explains the Shutdown

Actor George Clooney attends an official screening of
Clooney. Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images

George Clooney has never been shy about sharing his thoughts on politics and current events. So yesterday, when we ran into him at a Peggy Siegal lunch for his new space flick Gravity, we asked the liberal-leaning actor for his thoughts about the ongoing government shutdown. He had many — on John Boehner’s grand strategy, on the “idiots” who think we don’t need government, and on Ted Cruz’s reading of Green Eggs and Ham. 

  • People keep talking about how this has to be a great negotiation, but there isn’t any negotiating a law. We negotiate on all these other topics, but this was put into law, and [Obama] was reelected on it. It was reaffirmed, it was passed through the Supreme Court — it’s a law. You don’t like it? Win an election. That’s how it works. That’s how the country works. But you don’t get to shut down the government because of it. That’s not how it works.”
  • “My sense is that if I were in John Boehner’s shoes and I was looking at two  one and then another one in a couple of weeks I would figure, well, I can absorb a government shutdown and then say, ‘We stood strong, but now the debt ceiling is something completely different. We can’t deal with it.’ You settle the government shutdown, and you still got the debt ceiling. It’s the same fight, so maybe they’re just trying to consolidate. Maybe it’s the best version of their way of getting out.”
  • “It’s basically: 30 people in one half of one branch of the three branches of government are shutting down the government. Okay, that’s how they want to play? Okay. That’s fine if everybody comes to their senses before we actually destroy the economy and lose credit, full faith and credit, as they like to say. That’s a big deal.”
  • So my sense is, cooler heads will prevail in the debt-ceiling crisis. I don’t think too much will happen.”
  • “Look, sequestration is a big deal. People like to brush it off and say nothing happened, but an awful lot of kids aren’t being fed, and a lot of stuff happens that just gets swept under the rug.”
  • “Shutting down the government is not how you make government work. And anybody who thinks we don’t need it is an idiot.”
  • “And what is essential? Are we talking about education? Are we talking about food stamps? Are we talking about kids’ lunches? Yes, the army is essential. Is security of the country essential? Of course it is. But there are a lot of things you can look at and say, ’How do you say that’s not essential?’”
  • “I always panic when people like Ted Cruz take the floor and read Green Eggs and Ham. You know? Like somehow they’re Jimmy Stewart.”