Ubiquitous actor Don Cheadle shared an insider’s view of the State Department Tuesday evening, while taking questions at a New York screening of his new film Talk to Me (out Thursday), presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Asked about his reported disappointment in George W. Bush‘s Sudan policy, the actor quipped: “Can you turn that camera off?! … I didn’t say it. She did!”
Cheadle, co-author of Not On Our Watch, about the genocide in Darfur, was recently called in to talk to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about the issue. And he wasn’t impressed.
“She wanted to tell me what the U.S. was doing,” Cheadle said. “First she said, ‘We’re doing all we can, but it’s not us, it’s the United Nations. They’re bogged down with red tape, and trying to push anything through just takes forever. The bureaucracy is almost insurmountable, and it’s the United Nations, not the U.S.’ And then she said, ‘It’s like when we had this crisis in Lebanon, I had to send someone down specifically to push through all of our legislation and make sure that everything moved through efficiently.’ I’m thinking, I thought you had no control over the United Nations. But I didn’t say that, ’cause I wanted to leave!”
The audience erupted in laughter.
“And then she basically said, ‘And I’ve heard a lot of you activists talking about George Bush needs to do more to stop the crisis in Darfur, and George Bush can’t stop this crisis in Darfur. You guys need to back off of that.’”
The actor did eventually return to the subject of Bush. “Look, he’s been hoisted on his own petard. I don’t have to say anything about him. Everybody knows what’s up with him.”