- Actor, director, producer, writer
- Anti-war activist
Rob Reiner is an actor, director, producer, and writer, best known for his role as Archie Bunker’s son-in-law in Norman Lear’s 1970s television series All in the Family. He is also a vocal critic of the Iraq War and Republican policies generally.
Reiner was born in New York City in March 1947. His father is the celebrated comedic actor Carl Reiner, and his mother Estella has played small parts in a number of film productions. Reiner moved with his family to the Los Angeles area when he was thirteen and attended Beverly Hills High School. Four years later he enrolled at UCLA.
After playing the role of Michael “Meathead” Stivic on All in the Family from 1971-78, Reiner in the 1980s turned his attention to producing and directing such films as This is Spinal Tap; A Few Good Men; The Bucket List; When Harry Met Sally; and The American President.
Reiner has frequently used his celebrity status to endorse leftist political candidates and organizations and, conversely, to criticize their conservative counterparts. “Hollywood has always been way out in front [politically],” says Reiner, “and that’s why we [entertainers] do what we do [speak out on political matters].”
In 1998 Reiner publicly supported a successful cigarette-tax initiative that collected $700 million for early-childhood education programs.
An advocate of steeply progressive income taxes, Reiner exhorted Democrats to push for a reduction of President Bush’s $1.6 trillion, 10-year tax cut, which he said was siphoning money away from youth and education initiatives.
In 1999 Reiner joined such luminaries as Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, and Susan Sontag in signing a letter criticizing Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s effort to suspend funding for the Brooklyn Museum of Art, after the museum had exhibited the artist Chris Ofili’s depiction of the Virgin Mary covered in elephant dung and surrounded by pornographic images.
During the 2000 presidential election season, Reiner campaigned heavily for Al Gore, raising more than $4 million for the Democratic candidate and making several campaign stops with him.
In the midst of that year’s infamous voting recount controversy in Florida, Reiner, at the request of the Democratic Party, traveled to Tallahassee to “educate” schoolchildren about the Electoral College in an event that was staged primarily for the media. The audience was stocked with youngsters who had been coached to ask loaded questions of Reiner, who in turn was prepared to use the platform to portray George W. Bush as a corrupt politician seeking to steal the election. For instance, one eleven-year-old student asked Reiner, “Why won’t they count all the votes?” Reiner replied, “George Bush doesn’t want to count the votes because he says, ‘Hey, I already won.’”
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Reiner, who is an endorser of Artists United to Win Without War, emerged as a vocal opponent of a U.S. military reprisal against those who had harbored and abetted the nineteen Islamic hijackers.
Reiner was an enthusiastic supporter of the anti-war movement during the months preceding the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. “This is the greatest support we could ever give to our troops because what we are trying to do is protect them from going into harm’s way needlessly,” Reiner said. “There is no God-awful reason to go to war at this moment. There is no reason to rush into this war …”
Said Reiner in late 2003, “George Bush said we had to go into Iraq because it had weapons of destruction. He lied.”
In 2004 Reiner praised the Michael Moore film Fahrenheit 9/11, which accused President Bush of having secretly colluded with the bin Laden family. “I think this is one of the most important films ever made,” said Reiner. “It has the potential of actually affecting the election, and if it does, it will change the world.”
Early in the 2004 presidential campaign, Reiner publicly endorsed the candidacy of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. “Governor Dean embodies the absolute best of the Democratic Party ideals,” Reiner said, adding that Dean was “the only major Democratic candidate speaking out against going to war without the support of the United Nations.” Reiner agreed with Dean’s depiction of the Iraq invasion not as America’s response to Saddam Hussein’s protracted defiance of multiple UN Resolutions over a 12-year period, but rather as a “pre-emptive war” that was “wrong for America” and set “a dangerous precedent.”
In the summer of 2004, Reiner directed a television advertisement for Moveon.org‘s media campaign designed to help defeat President Bush’s reelection bid.
Reiner is a financial backer of Democracy Alliance (DA), a self-described “liberal organization” whose long-term objective is to raise $200 million to develop a funding clearinghouse for leftwing groups. Other DA donors include Peter Lewis and George Soros.
Since May 2005, Reiner has written occasional blogs for The Huffington Post, where he expresses his thoughts on a host of topics ranging from politics to the entertainment industry. In a September 2006 blog entry titled “ABC’s Path to Fiction,” Reiner condemned that television network for its decision to air The Path to 9/11, a two-part miniseries that dramatized the events leading up to the September 11th terrorist attacks. Reiner objected because the production showed how some poor decisions by the Bill Clinton administration had allowed Osama bin Laden to evade capture or assassination. Reiner wrote:
“ABC along with everyone who had anything to do with the production should be ashamed of themselves. I think we all can agree that it’s in everybody’s best interests for the Republicans to be searching out the perpetrators who were complicit in the 9/11 attacks, rather than spending time actively trying to set the blame on the previous administration.”
“I think Obama will win [the general election] by a landslide. The country is tired of the direction it’s been going in…. I think people are tired of the Republican brand and want a real change. Our stock in the world is as low as it’s ever been, we have a major health care crisis, we have a major economic crisis and we have a major energy crisis. And we need real leadership.”
In an August 2014 appearance on Ora TV’s PoliticKing with Larry King, Reiner was asked what he thought should be done “about the Gaza situation, and Israel.” In his reply, the actor/director first denounced Hamas as an “extreme” and “virulent faction” that was committed to “the destruction of Israel” and “the destruction of every Jew on the planet” — and thus an organization that “you can’t negotiate with.” He then likened the Islamic terrorist group Hamas to the conservative Tea Party movement in the U.S.: “You look at the Congress right now in the United States, you’ve got a strong Tea Party group controlling the whole country, because they have a gridlock, they have a gridlock, uh, stranglehold on [House Speaker John] Boehner. Boehner can’t make a move, and so for that reason, nothing gets brought up in the Congress, so anytime you’re dealing with an extreme group, you cannot negotiate with them, and they way to do it is to eliminate it, with the Tea Party, you have to go through political thing, you have to wait till 2020 to redistrict, but, ugh, that is really tough stuff.”
Over the years, Reiner has donated money to the political campaigns of many candidates, all Democrats. These include Barbara Boxer, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, John Conyers, Jr., Tom Daschle, Howard Dean, Christopher Dodd, John Edwards, Dianne Feinstein, Al Franken, Richard Gephardt, Al Gore, Tom Harkin, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Tom Lantos, Patrick Leahy, John Lewis, Carol Moseley-Braun, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Charles Schumer.
Reiner also has made contributions to organizations such as 21st Century Democrats, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Moveon.org Voter Fund.
Between April 1995 and May 2008, Reiner’s political contributions totaled at least $560,000.