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Off His Game

Obama Hobnobs with cronies, tells false story, and seats common folk in back of room at $15 million Hollywood fundraiser

• May 11, 2012 10:15 am

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White House pool reporter Jackie Calmes of the New York Times said President Obama was "off his game" at the $40,000-a-plate fundraiser held last night at movie star George Clooney's Hollywood mansion, according to reports.

"Frankly, Potus didn’t seem on his game exactly," Calmes wrote, describing the event.

Obama began the fundraiser with a shout-out to one of its organizers, Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, whose DreamWorks film studio is currently under SEC investigation for alleged bribes of Chinese officials.

"I want to thank Jeffrey (Katzenberg) not just for this evening, but for his tenacious support and advocacy since we started back in 2007," Obama said, according to the pool report. "He has consistently been there for me, through thick and through thin."

The president also joked that his visage on the Shepard Fairey's "Hope" poster was taken from a photograph in which then-senator Obama was seated next to Clooney. That was the first time the actor had ever been cropped from a photo, Obama said.

However, the president was incorrect in his description of the poster's origins. Fairey is said to have used another photograph, according to AP White House reporter Jim Kuhnhenn.

"In fact, the artist who created the poster, Shepard Fairey, used another photograph of Obama but said he relied on the Obama-Clooney picture to avoid a copyright infringement case with The Associated Press," Kuhnhenn said in a follow-up White House pool report. "He pleaded guilty in February to criminal contempt for fabricating and destroying evidence."

Fairey will be sentenced July 16. The rest of us are condemned to live with that poster.

Obama delivered a campaign-style stump speech to the crowd of around 150 Hollywood executives, actors, and other donors who contributed tens of thousands of dollars to dine on "roasted duckling ‘Peking style' with tiny buns" and "a duo of lamb and beef cheek with potatoes and Brussels sprouts," according to the AP report of the event.

Attendees included superhero impersonators Tobey Maguire and Robert Downey Jr, as well as fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg and actress Salma Hayek, whose French billionaire husband François Henri-Pinault is currently engaged in bitter child-support proceedings with model Linda Evangelista. Evangelista's lawyer accused Henri-Pinault of recommending she undergo an abortion. Mr. Salma Hayek denies the claim.

"In a table in the middle, actor Tobey Maguire sat to the right of Clooney and his girlfriend, Stacy Kiebler," wrote the pool reporter. "Nearby, on the edge closest to pool, was Diane Von Furstenberg. Also spotted: actors and entertainers Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Salma Hayek, Barbra Streisand (at a rear table and looking serious throughout, in black beret) and husband James Brolin. Said to be there: designer Trina Turk and Billy Crystal."

The Obama campaign raised millions for the event by raffling off tickets on its website. The winners of that contest were seated in the back of the tent, according to the pool report.

"At the rear of the tent were the two winners of the Obama campaign’s online sweepstakes: Beth Topinka, from Manalapan, N.J., a science teacher, and Karen Blutcher, from St. Augustine, Fla., a utility company employee and mother of a five-year-old son with Down syndrome; both women brought their husbands," the pool report revealed.

The report did not say whether the raffle winners were forced to dine on scraps from the celebrity tables.