Kumar goes to the West Wing?

posted at 8:48 am on April 8, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

We got a lot of comments in other threads about this story, and when a successful actor decides to go to the real West Wing, it’s worth a comment or two.  Kal Penn, best known for the Harold and Kumar series of movies, left the TV series House to take another gig — as a White House staffer for Barack Obama:

We’ve had actors-turned-mayors, and actors-turned-governors . . . but actors-turned-White House staffers? That’s a new one!

“House” star Kal Penn — whose character was killed off on Monday’s episode — is taking a sabbatical from acting to work for President Obama. The 31-year-old actor, first launched to fame as a stoner student in the “Harold and Kumar” movies, is coming to Washington to be associate director in the White House Office of Public Liaison, Entertainment Weekly first reported yesterday. …

“Associate directors” at the White House job earn somewhere in the $60,000-$70,000 range per year; Penn wouldn’t say exactly how much he made on “House,” but TV actors at his level make around $50,000 per episode. Producers of the Fox drama said they were “thrilled” for him when they found out he was leaving to work for Obama, then pulled off a major surprise by having his character, Dr. Lawrence Kutner, unexpectedly commit suicide.

Actually, I found the suicide to be the most objectionable part of the story, and I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s because the series treated suicide as an easy way out of a staffing jam rather than a serious subject.  It seems almost grotesque to concoct a character’s suicide just to get the actor a gig in politics.  Why not just give the character a job somewhere else?

I give kudos to Penn for pursuing public service at a large personal cost, at least financially.  Public service can be honorable, and Penn deserves credit for choosing to work in that arena, even if I don’t necessarily agree with Penn on politics.  I felt the same way when Tony Snow gave up his financially lucrative talk-show career to bring order back to the Bush press office, giving service to his country.

At least this celebrity appointment has a job well within his competency.  Unlike the Treasury Secretary who couldn’t do his taxes, the Commerce Secretary appointment who never worked in the private sector (and was under investigation for corruption in his home state), and the Secretary of State whose most notable item on her diplomatic resumé was the Tuzla Dash, Penn has a job he can handle.

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This moron just put a bullet in his career, especially after the Obama Show gets cancelled in 2012…

serenity on April 8, 2009 at 5:50 PM

No cares for Kumar Kal here.

I’m just glad that Rescue Me is back!

ornery_independent on April 8, 2009 at 6:10 PM

Why is Obama wearing a ski mask?

profitsbeard on April 8, 2009 at 7:23 PM

Imagine how much of a dimwitted, yet enthusiastic liberal one would need to be in order to quit a high paying acting job in order to be a lowly paid minion in the service of barack obama, orbiting him like a geisha girl at his beck and call to rub his back, bathe him, or feed grapes to his open mouth as he lays back to contemplate his next memoir. That takes a fanatical devotion to leftism to prostrate oneself like that just to be in his presence.

keep the change on April 8, 2009 at 8:21 PM

I’d be down with Hugh Laurie as Secretary of Defense!

Dr. ZhivBlago on April 8, 2009 at 8:24 PM

Poor misguided man. He’ll find out soon enough what a huge mistake he made. But he’s just one of many who drank the kool-aid….I love House and I will miss seeing him on there..but not quiet as much seeing I now know why he left!

Eyvonne on April 8, 2009 at 9:16 PM