George Clooney in ER, the American hit TV show, didn't move me. "A good-looking lightweight" I thought. The only thing that really interested me was that his aunt was Rosemary Clooney of White Christmas fame. It's different now. I can see a real possibility of a President Clooney.
It's not that he needs a job. Currently he's shooting Oceans 13, the third in the lucrative Oceans series. His film about Cold War intrigue, The Good German, comes out soon, closely followed by Michael Clayton, in which he plays a lawyer with a murky past. Applause for his direction of Goodnight and Good Luck, the story of newsman Ed Murrow's epic battle with Senator McCarthy, still rings in his ears. Clooney is hot!
In spite of all this glitz and famenot to mention the moneyhe decided to go to Darfur, impelled by images of genocide he had seen on his TV screen.
Since February 2003, the government of Sudan has conducted a campaign of genocidal ethnic cleansing in Darfur, using both its military forces and a brutal militia, the Janjaweed.
More than 70,000 men, women and children are dead while more than two million have been displaced as the world has looked on. He set out as the US State Department advised US citizens to stay away from N'Djamena, the city where his plane was landing, because 300 people had been killed in one Janjaweed swoop. He still went, taking his newsman father. because "I'm 45 and I don't have kids. My dad is 72. If anyone should go it should be us".
On his return he told the UN Security Council that Darfur would become the scene of the first genocide of the 21st Century if peacekeepers were not sent to Sudan immediately. "If not, you won't need the UN. You will simply need men with shovels and headstones."
They listened because this was George Clooney, megastar. His words hit the media around the world for the same reason. When anyone accuses him of using Darfur to raise his profile he says: "What do you think, that I need to be more famous? I'm just trying to participate in the human condition".
One way and another, my "good-looking lightweight" is turning into a hero of our times. God knows we could do with one.