In a poignant and solemn event amidst a whirlwind West Coast fundraising tour, President Joe Biden joined in a shiva to honor the legacy of Norman Lear, the iconic television producer who passed away this week at the age of 101.
The intimate gathering, held at the Lear residence, was noted by the White House as a heartfelt tribute from the President to a man whose work profoundly shaped American culture and entertainment. The shiva, a traditional Jewish mourning ritual, saw President Biden and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had a longstanding friendship with Lear, paying their respects.
Their attendance underscored the deep impact Lear had not only in entertainment but in the realm of political advocacy and social commentary. During a Hollywood-centric fundraiser for the Biden-Harris reelection campaign, President Biden took a moment to reflect on Lear's vast influence.
"His cast of characters painted a fuller picture of America, of our hopes and hardships, our fears, our resilience, and changed the way we look at ourselves," he said. Biden further quoted Lear: "You stand a better chance if you can get them caring first." This, according to the President, encapsulates the essence of a nation at its best - one that cares deeply.
Lear's Patriotic Legacy
A particularly noteworthy aspect of Lear's legacy, highlighted by Biden, was his purchase of an original copy of the Declaration of Independence. Lear's intention to share this historic document with schools and museums was lauded by the President as a gesture that inspires patriotism and connects citizens with their nation's founding principles.
In his tribute earlier in the week, President Biden called Lear a "transformational force in American culture," acknowledging his decades-long commitment to crucial social issues including free speech, women's rights, environmental conservation, voting rights, and more.
Lear's influence extended well beyond the entertainment industry. In the early 1980s, he founded People for the American Way, a significant advocacy group that played a key role in political arenas, notably in opposing the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987.
Aside from the shiva, President Biden's Saturday schedule was packed with private fundraising events with prominent donors, including a notable gathering in Beverly Hills. Additionally, an event headlined by both the President and First Lady Jill Biden was slated for the evening.
First Lady Jill Biden also made her presence felt in the political sphere, attending a fundraiser at NeueHouse Hollywood. Hosted by Matthew Crowley and Martha Leon De La Barra, the event featured introductions by actress Connie Britton and a Q&A session with Elizabeth Banks.
Reflecting on the upcoming election, the First Lady emphasized the fundamental nature of the battle ahead, framing it as a defense of democracy and the rights of the nation's people against oppressive forces. This series of events, combining mourning, tribute, and political advocacy, underscores the multifaceted nature of the Biden administration's engagement with cultural icons, their legacies, and the broader American narrative.