Barbra Streisand America Online
Monday, November 2, 1998 at 9:00pm ET/6:00pm PT.
Online Host: America Online is proud to present Barbra Streisand in her first-ever online appearance. The director/actress/singer/activist is here this evening to encourage Americans to "Get Out The Vote" and to discuss the importance of being a part of our country's political process.
Live Onstage: Barbra, you've been surfing the rows, talking to our members just now...Welcome.
Barbra Streisand: Hi. This feels like a performance. Only I don't have to dress up. I'm sitting here in my sweats and sneakers. I'm very glad to be here even though this is quite scary. This is my first time online, In 1986, I was able to raise money and awareness by doing a concert for the Democrats. We didn't have time this year. So in order to make some sort of a difference, and encourage people to vote, I've taken to the Web.
It's an incredible way to reach people at the same time. So fire away.
Live Onstage: A celebrity of your stature has a lot to lose by taking strong political stands. Why do you care so much?
Barbra Streisand: Well, I think this is a crucial election. If you vote Republican, we get more impeachment proceedings, and investigations upon investigations. If you vote Democratic, we will get a Congress that will work with — not against — the President to accomplish health care reform, safeguard the environment, protect a woman's right to choose, save social security, fix our schools, so that every American child is guaranteed a quality education.
Question: Why are you a Democrat?
Barbra Streisand: The Democrats have always been the party of working people and minorities. I've always identified with the minorities. As a Jew, and as a woman growing up in Brooklyn in a poor neighborhood.
Question: Hey Barbra. My name is Krista. I am 16 year old and a REALLY huge fan of yours! I asked my History teacher what the difference between a democrat and that she could think of so that she could be confident that I would have no clue as to what she was talking about. What do you see as the difference?
Live Onstage: Make that the difference between a Democrat and a Republican.
Barbra Streisand: Good question, Krista. The Republicans have always been the party of big business. And have represented the interests of the wealthiest Americans. So it comes down to this: If you want a party of the people, by the people and for the people, vote Democratic. If you want a party of the corporation, by the corporation and for the corporation, vote Republican.
Live Onstage: We have a question from Tides24 about President Clinton's character:
Question: You have long been an advocate of the truth, in your life, your art, and your politics. Yet, now you are asking us to support a man who blatantly and continually lied to his family, his friends, his aides, and his country. Has this caused no conflict within you?
Barbra Streisand: My answer is no. Because there are lies and there are lies. In my opinion, a lie about personal indiscretion is far less significant than a lie about illegal government operations, such as Bush with "Iraq-gate" and Oliver North and President Reagan with Iran Contra. He should never have been asked the question he was asked in the first place.
He was trapped into perjurous territory with illegal conversations between the Jones lawyers and Tripp's lawyers. I support Bill Clinton because of the way he serves the country and cares for the well-being of its citizens.
Live Onstage: Barbra, does the president have the moral leadership to lead the country?
Barbra Streisand: Yes. But is it moral leadership, according to Pat Robertson? Or moral leadership to Martin Luther King? The Christian Right can talk about morals, but is it moral to kill doctors in the name of preserving life? There is a difference between public and private morality. By the way, I hope you all see the Presidential Quiz...first item on Articles of Interest on my webpage.
I want to say a little more about this... Our greatest Presidents, Thomas Jefferson, FDR, John Kennedy all were great moral leaders in the public realm, but all had questionable practices in their private lives. There was an article about Thomas Jefferson in yesterday's New York Times that ...where the DNA proved he was the father of his black slave's children. The quote said: "Our heroes -- and especially Presidents, are not Gods or Saints, but flesh and blood humans."
Online Host: We are live with Barbra Streisand.
Live Onstage: Is the country preoccupied with the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal?
Barbra Streisand: Yes...and the press feeds on it. But this is what I really think, okay? The President's sex life is none of our business. The questions are "would you like your sex life investigated, and does it affect how you do your job?" We should judge our Presidents by how effective they are at running the country. After spending more than $40 million investigating this President, they've come up with nothing to charge him with.
I believe this is a ploy to divert the attention of the American voter. The Republicans would have you be distracted from the issues that they haven't delivered on. Like, the Patients Bill of Rights, strengthening Social Security, the minimum wage, tobacco legislation, campaign finance reform and many other things.
Live Onstage: A question from thenkofus:
Question: The older I get (I'm 45/f) the more interested I am becoming in politics, especially how it will affect my children and grandchildren and not to mention myself in old age. Politics has never been my passion... Therefore my question is what can I do to become more educated and gain a real understanding about what and who to vote for and other things that will affect me and mine? And, how do I know what issues are of utmost importance?
Barbra Streisand: You've just taken the first step by asking the question. You can join a Democratic club, read newspapers, talk to your friends and get them to vote...Democratic of course. Because this is an election that will affect millions of people's lives into the millennium.
Live Onstage: Barbra, we have a comment from RoboKat56:
Comment: Barbra, I just recently lost my mother. There was one thing that we both loved and were able to share in her final days and that was you. We watched your concert and Yentl. We laughed and cried together. I want to thank you. With love and prayers, Kathy Harris (Please let Ms. Streisand know.)
Question: Barbra, many of your fans are sending in questions about your career plans. What's next films, recordings, politics?
Barbra Streisand: I'm starting an album this month called “Barbra...In Love.” I work in my garden a lot. I have a rose named after me coming out in 2001. We're starting a website called www.barbrastreisand.com. I'm enjoying married life.
Live Onstage: Would you ever consider entering politics?
Barbra Streisand: My answer is short and sweet. I would never say never.
Live Onstage: From Jdp222:
Question: Barbra, have the last nine months of controversy and the tenor of this
Barbra Streisand: Exactly. As a matter of fact, we showed The Way We Were last night to a friend of mine's daughter who is a 20 year old college student and has never seen the movie. It was like deja vu.
Online Host: We are live with Barbra Streisand.
Live Onstage: Ms. Streisand, Do you still have the same political convictions you had when you were a young adult?
Barbra Streisand: My answer is yes. I've been active in politics for the last 30 years... I even helped Republican Mayor John Lindsay because I liked his politics. I liked helping Daniel Ellsberg in 1973 during the Pentagon Papers defense. It's a good feeling of citizen participation and satisfaction. And everybody should get that same feeling by casting a vote tomorrow! In other words, action over apathy.
Online Host: Barbra has agreed to stay with us a bit longer this evening :)
Live Onstage: The Republicans launched a last minute ad campaign against the president. What do you think of it?
Barbra Streisand: You mean, the $20 million blitz in the last few days? Let me gather my thoughts... so talk amongst yourselves...LOL! You know, their ad campaign said that voting Democratic rewards Bill Clinton, but actually a Democratic vote rewards us, the people. The next line says: Do you want big government spending? And I say yes, if big government spending benefits us. BTW...This administration has reduced the size of government But we want government in our lives to provide 100,000 new teachers for our children, safer streets, gun control, environmental regulation for the food we eat, the water we breathe and the water we drink...and so much more. This is interesting...the ads take credit the republican ad takes credit for a balanced budget and a surplus but when the President first proposed his budget in 1993, it was called The Economic Plan. ALL the Republicans voted against it. The President pushed it through by one vote in the Senate...and one vote in the House...Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky...who lost her seat as a result.
Barbra Streisand: And one more thing...the Republicans also try to take credit for protecting Social Security when the fact is the President wants to save the surplus for Social Security and the Republicans want to use the tax cut to give to the rich.
Live Onstage: We have time for one more question...
Live Onstage: Many of our members are asking you to leave us with some of the lessons life has taught you?
Barbra Streisand: For the sake of brevity...because that's a big question...don't readily accept the opinions of others, Two...listen to your own inner truth. And try to live by the creed Love thy neighbor as thyself which is hard to do but worth the effort. The operative word is "love."
Live Onstage: Thank you for being with us Barbra.
Barbra Streisand: I want to thank everyone and hope that they read what I had to say to them on all the pages of my website. And please, please, whatever you do. Vote! Thank you so much. It's been a really interesting experience. I can breathe now! LOL.
Streisand Responds to George Criticism
Originally Posted: February 16, 1999 on BJSMUSIC.COM
[This article by Mark Iskowitz has been reprinted here, courtesy of Mark]
John F. Kennedy, Jr.'s George magazine has just published Barbra Streisand's half-page letter to the editor, a fervent defense and clarification of her informed activism in the last election. It was JFK, Jr. who picked a fight with Barbra, when the publisher, president and editor-in-chief approved criticism in his January issue, which derided and maligned her. Perhaps surprisingly, George's March issue makes Barbra's dissatisfaction with the magazine public.
She begins, "I'm writing to set the record straight on the Editors' Picks item in the January 1999 issue about my pre-election Internet chat, in which I encouraged people to vote. Specifically, I'm concerned about your comment that when 'I went online the day before the election and gave the Democrats what amounted to a free hour-long advertisement, [I] went too far.' While it is fair to question the content of what I said, it concerns me that as journalists you would question my right to say it. The last time I checked, the Internet was supposed to be an open forum for the free exchange of ideas. No one is forced to go online or join in a chat. The choice is theirs." Indeed, in the days leading up to the chat, Streisand and America Online provided Web pages explaining the purpose of the November 2 chat, listing recommended articles, and reviewing candidates she had endorsed. The ideas espoused during her 35-minute chat were consistent with this introductory material.
In her letter Barbra is particularly disappointed with George's comment that because she "wasn't familiar with all the races, her advice was based almost entirely on blind faith in Clinton." Certainly, this is a misconception, and she attempts to correct it. "Besides being an unfair generalization, it is just not true. While I am a strong supporter of President Clinton and many of his policies, blind faith had nothing to do with my decision to endorse certain candidates."
Barbra goes on to explain the thoughtful and deliberate process in selecting candidates to endorse and support financially, in this case less than half of all Democrats running for the House, Senate, or Governor. "My decision was based on where a candidate stood on seven key issues: preserving the environment, ensuring a woman's right to choose, reforming education, strengthening gun-control laws, fighting for health care reform, saving Social Security, and increasing the minimum wage." In fact, although she did not endorse any Republican candidates this election, she has supported some notable Republicans, like former New York mayor John Lindsay, in the past.
Streisand's letter concludes this way: "The next time you write something, it would be good to check your facts, not to mention the Constitution. Who could have imagined that in this day and age, journalists would question a person's right to express his or her views? So much for freedom of speech. What will be next: Do I dare say freedom of the press?"
It should be noted that there has been a dispute between JFK, Jr. and sister Caroline with Streisand's brother Sheldon regarding Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. If this unrelated situation somehow has provoked George's sudden cynicism toward Barbra Streisand, it would certainly be misguided, prejudicial, and unfair. George published very positive features on Barbra Streisand's politics in previous issues, particularly its November 1996 issue with Barbra as Betsy Ross on the cover. In fact, the magazine printed this writer's approving letter two months later in the same Letters section which currently features Barbra's disapproving letter.