What do 75 ex-diplomats have in common with 27 Hollywood celebrities?

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 September, 2016, 2:56pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 September, 2016, 10:01pm

A group of 75 retired career foreign service officers, including ambassadors and senior State Department officials, have denounced Donald Trump as unfit for the US presidency, on the same day that a cohort of Hollywood superstars joined forces to do much the same thing.

The diplomats, who served under Republican and Democratic presidents over nearly a half-century, signed an open letter calling Trump “entirely unqualified to serve as President and Commander-in-Chief.”

The diplomats said “none of us” will vote for Trump. While they said not all of them agreed with every decision made by Hillary Clinton, they said they all supported her candidacy.

“Because the stakes in this election are so high,” the letter said, “this is the first time many of us have publicly endorsed a candidate for President.”

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Meanwhile director Joss Whedon drew together a “s*** ton of famous people” to urge voters to get to the polls, while taking potshots at Trump in a video.

The video is the first in a series coming from Whedon’s new Super Pac, Save the Day , which is “dedicated to the idea that voting is a necessary and heroic act” and “committed to fighting the apathy, cynicism, and honest confusion that keeps citizens from using their vote”.

Twenty-seven celebrities in total appear in the video, including Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders and Don Cheadle from Whedon’s Avengers films, as well as Neil Patrick Harris, Jesse Williams, Julianne Moore, Keegan-Michael Key and a mustachioed James Franco. Stanley Tucci and Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr both implore voters to register.

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Save the Day is a pro-Hillary Clinton Super Pac and Whedon has donated US$1million toward her efforts in the election. While the video never explicitly mentions Clinton or Trump, it alludes to the Republican nominee. The celebrities said they’re gathered to deal with something important, like “a racist, abusive coward who could permanently damage the fabric of our society”, said Cheadle. Odom Jr added: “Do we really want to give nuclear weapons to a man whose signature move is firing?”

It’s not unusual for celebrities to come out and push a political agenda.

But the ex-diplomats’ letter represents the latest in an unprecedented number of joint public statements signed by retired high-level government officials and military officers this election cycle. Most have focused on national security, and most have been against Trump.

The most prominent exception was a letter early this month signed by 88 retired generals and other military officials who endorsed Trump as a “long overdue course correction in our national security posture.”

Last spring, more than 100 Republican national security experts signed a petition, even before Trump won the GOP nomination, saying they would never work for a Trump administration. Last month, 50 more Republicans, including former top aides and cabinet members for the George W. Bush administration, signed a letter saying Trump would be “the most reckless president in American history” and that none of them would vote for him.

Most of the diplomats who signed the new letter have never been publicly associated with a political party. In their letter, they wrote that they “have proudly represented every President since Richard Nixon as ambassadors or senior State Department officials in Senate-confirmed positions. We have served Republican and Democratic Presidents with pride and enthusiasm.”

They had decided to speak out, the signers said, because “very simply, this election is different from any election we can recall.” Trump, they said, “is ignorant of the complex nature of the challenges facing our country, from Russia to China to ISIS to nuclear proliferation to refugees to drugs, but he has expressed no interest in being educated.”

Additional reporting by The Guardian