Actor Richard Dreyfuss: ‘I Disapprove of Obama'

By Nicholas Ballasy | January 25, 2011 | 8:10 PM EST

( – Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss says he "disapproves" of President Barack Obama, particularly because he believes Obama has simply carried on the policies of his predecessor George W. Bush.

"I think it’s one of the great opportunities lost and one of the great chances of a character in the American story to be much smaller than he might have been,” said Dreyfuss of Obama. 

At the National Press Club on Tuesday, asked Dreyfuss about his past criticism of President George W. Bush: “You cited in the past the wiretapping as a disapproval of President Bush’s policies, the war in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, the PATRIOT Act, the Bush tax cuts--President Obama has continued all of those. Do you feel the same way about him?"

Dreyfuss said, “I don’t feel the same way about Obama as I did about Bush, but I disapprove of Obama. I disapprove of him furthering all of Bush’s policies. I think it’s one of the great opportunities lost and one of the great chances of a character in the American story to be much smaller than he might have been.”

Dreyfuss spoke with after he gave a speech on civic education and civility in politics as part of his “Dreyfuss Initiative,” at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Actor Richard Dreyfus at the Big Apple Convention in Manhattan, June 8, 2008. (Wikipedia Commons) then asked the Academy Award-winning actor, “What specific policy did you think President Obama would explore [down] a different path compared to President Bush? What has you the most disappointed?”

Dreyfuss said, “You know, I made a promise to myself in 2004 that I wasn’t going to follow local current affairs closely. I figured if something important happens, someone would tell me, okay? But the signing letters [statements] that Obama signs, which he got from Bush, are terrible. And not explaining thoroughly, completely, and openly, and going to the Congress to do it, his continuation of Bush’s war policy is wrong."

The “signing letters” or signing statements refer to legal letters issued by the White House relating to how certain legislation passed by Congress is applied by the executive branch, and usually addressing whether provisions in the legislation potentially are unconstitutional restraints on presidential power.

Dreyfuss continued, “And just bringing the executive back down into shape, into the same size as the Congress and the Judiciary is something that Obama could do and bonfires would be lit all over Europe and Asia if he did it -- because there’s a 100 percent agreement in the world that everyone wants America to be run by adults, not willful, ignorant children.”

“And any gesture toward that would be applauded because America is the most powerful country in the world and people are desperately afraid that its power could be misused for the wrong reasons,” said Dreyfuss. “And so, anything that would show the executive being an adult with an outlook of knowledge, ethics, and wisdom would be applauded everywhere.”