Sean Penn vs. Wyclef: The Self-Righteous Showdown Escalates
12:09 PM, Sep 9, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
You may remember that for a brief time, singer Wyclef Jean flirted with the idea of running for president of Haiti, citing as his qualifications the fact that he is Haitian, knows Shakira, and put out that awesome solo album in '98.
Just kidding, he actually did have a platform of sorts:
Nonetheless, an electoral board declared him ineligible because he didn't meet a residency requirement, at which point Jean bowed out pretty gracefully and said he looked forward to continuing to work for Haiti. He remains the country's "ambassador at large," to which he was appointed by current president Rene Preval.
But Sean Penn, very upset indeed that anyone else should get a tremendous amount of publicity for trying to help poor black people in the wake of a natural disaster, which is Penn's milieu, took a break from his work in Haiti to go on CNN to question Wyclef's qualifications and committment to the people of Haiti.
Wyclef's former Fugees bandmate Pras, also Haitian, sided with Penn in the quarrel, backing Jean's would-be opposition in the election.
Wyclef, whose run for president may have been ill-conceived and naive, but undoubtedly well-intentioned, considered these fighting words, and started a pseudo-rap feud with noted non-rapper Penn by rewriting the words to his "If I Was President" to slam the actor and Pras at a concert in New York this week:
Penn, determined to win the War for Who Cares More About Underserved Populations, had his spokesman release a very serious statement to refute Wyclef's allegations, thereby implying that he's far too busy caring about Haiti more to be bothered with appearing on prime-time CNN or writing a blog post for Huffington Post, at least this time.
Worst rap feud ever, but I'm rooting for Wyclef. Penn is the Platonic form of liberal self-righteousness, nourished by the outlandish publicity he gets for swooping into disaster areas (where many others are doing just as much good and more) to the point that he feels free to publicly declare that he cares more about Haiti than Haitians.
Here's Penn displaying the sense of humor, humility, and graciousness for which he's renowned on FunnyOrDie.com's "Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifinakis:"