Obama lives up to biggest celebrity' billing in the world

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Washington, Apr.28 (ANI): President Barack Obama has apparently had a full schedule in the week gone by at the Oval Office.

If last Monday, golf great Tiger Woods dropped by the Oval Office to promote June's AT and T National, Tuesday brought country singer Toby Keith. On Wednesday, while Barack Obama was in Iowa, R and B singer Usher swung by the premises to talk with administration staff about fighting malaria. Thursday was quieter - maybe just the lull before actor Forest Whitaker's visit Friday.

The president, once derisively deemed "the biggest celebrity in the world," is living up to the billing, with celebrities lining up to see him.

The celebrity-politician dynamic has changed since Bush exited. It's not just fun and games and snoozes in the Lincoln Bedroom anymore, says Brookings Institution Vice President Darrell West, author of the book "Celebrity Politics."

"Celebrities used to be considered vacuous people who didn't know anything," says West. "And I think in response to that, the celebrities who are getting involved politically are actually boning up on the issues and developing expertise."

"The celebrity engagement under Clinton centered on fundraising, while "Obama seems more open to using celebrities for policy formulation and getting ideas,"Politico quotes West, as saying.

Ann Stock, who served as the White House social secretary for Clinton, concurs, saying that "a lot of celebrities actually now have issues they care about. Stock points to U2 singer and New York Times contributor Bono as the beau ideal.

She adds that the first six months of an administration are usually a time when people with the clout to make one attempt a pilgrimage to the White House.

George Clooney's credentials as a celebrity activist won him meetings with both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. After discussing Darfur with both men, Clooney held a press conference where he announced he had received White House assurances that the issue "is high on their agenda."

Brad Pitt, also stopped by the presidential complex in early March to talk about the recovery from Hurricane Katrina. The actor, whose "Make it Right" foundation builds sustainable housing for Hurricane Katrina victims, met with both the president and White House Climate Czar Carol Browner. (ANI)

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