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Robert Redford on the Keystone Pipeline: Good Actor-Bad Politician

Written on Monday, February 18, 2013 by

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There is no denying Robert Redford’s acting skills. He is one of the best. Who can forget his performances in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or The Natural? Unfortunately though, the same cannot be said for his politics. Redford is another of those Hollywood liberals who continues to live in fantasyland even after the camera is turned off and the movie is wrapped. He has spent his adult life pretending to be fictional characters while reading lines written for him by someone else, and this experience—he apparently believes—gives him political insight. It doesn’t. In fact, life in the fantasyland that is Hollywood does nothing for the Robert Redford’s of the world but insulate them from the realities of life that should inform their political opinions.

Redford has a long history of using his celebrity status as a platform for liberal activism. His latest foray into politics is an attack on the Keystone Pipeline, which he describes as “dirty.” I find it interesting that the arguments made against the Keystone Pipeline by Redford and other liberals are essentially the same arguments made against the Alaska Pipeline by environmentalists in the early 1970s—arguments that time has proven wrong. The Alaska Pipeline did not decimate the state’s caribou population, nor did it inflict the catastrophic environmental damage doomsday environmentalists claimed it would. What it did was give the state of Alaska a badly needed economic boost, create jobs, and help the United States overcome the “oil-crisis” of 1973. In fact, should the Congress and future presidents ever get serious about the energy independence the Alaska Pipeline will be one of America’s most valuable assets. The Keystone Pipeline, if built, will be an equally valuable asset.

Hollywood elites such as Robert Redford are able to adopt their predictably liberal political positions because their wealth insulates them from the consequences of their beliefs. In one of his movies, Redford played a new prison warden who pretended to be a convict in the prison he had been hired to reform. This was the warden’s way of finding out first-hand how the convicts lived, what their problems were, and what he would need to do to reform the prison. It was an excellent movie that made a powerful statement about getting a dose of reality before speaking out on problems or making decisions. Redford did a good job of reading the script that had been written for him, but apparently it made no impression on him or, perhaps, he just wasn’t paying attention.

Redford would do well to study that old script before attacking the Keystone Pipeline and other potential energy assets. If you are listening Mr. Redford, here is an idea for your next movie. A multi-millionaire Hollywood liberal decides he wants to speak out on the political issues of the day, but has the intellectual honesty to admit that he is too insulated to have properly informed views. Consequently, he decides to temporarily forsake his comfortable Hollywood lifestyle and become a regular person for six months. He begins by leaving behind his status and his money and seeking a real job to support himself.
Six months later, after spending days after day in unemployment lines, staying in low-rent dives, working at a series of minimum-wage jobs, and shopping at Goodwill Stores, our hero returns to his Hollywood mansion a new man. He does not turn his back on his acting career or give away his millions. Rather, he returns to work with a vengeance—but this time with a deep appreciation for his good fortune and for the often harsh realities faced by regular people who live in the real world. He rejects the leftwing views of his liberal-elite colleagues and endorses a more sensible worldview built on the principles of personal responsibility, individual freedom, free-market economics, low taxation, limited government, and traditional values. Such a movie would never win an Oscar but at least it would be based on truth.

My challenge to you Mr. Redford is this: Step out of the fantasyland you inhabit and see how real people have to live. Get a feel for the wallet shock experienced by middle-income people who have to pay $3.75 per gallon for gas on top of a crushing mortgage payment and a monthly grocery bill that just goes up every month. Then we can have an informed discussion about the Keystone Pipeline and other issues of the day. But as long as you are insulated from the consequences of your political views, your views are irrelevant and you have no credibility. Until you have a better understanding of what your views mean to regular folks, I suggest you stick to acting and stay out of politics. By the way, good luck with your next movie.

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