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PREACH IT! Sean Penn vs. Wyclef Jean in a verbal cage match to the death!


First, Wyclef Jean announced a bid to be president of Haiti. Then, Sean Penn emerged from his own derriere for a couple of seconds to intone that Wyclef’s candidacy lacked sincerity. Or seriousness. Or something. Point is, he called Wyclef a "non-presence" in the troubled country, and that got Jean’s hackles up.

Now Jean has speechified a response, in a growing battle for which star is, once and for all, more Haitian-than-thou.

"He hasn't seen me for six months -- I've been going to Haiti for over five years,” Jean spat. “I am not absent in Haiti, maybe the tent city you're in, maybe I'm absent in that."

What stands out about the argument isn’t so much the star power -- despite Penn’s ability to carry a picture, it isn’t exactly supernova on supernova -- or even Jean’s really fun tendency to speak about himself in the third person. What’s odd about all this is the lack of interference from hand-wringing toadies. Just a few years ago, in a situation like this involving Third World do-goodery, we’d usually be fielding feverish spin from a publicist by now -- or maybe a lawyer, or at least someone on the star’s payroll.

Sean-penn-haiti Take Madonna. When she first vogued into Malawi to adopt a baby girl, and maybe throw in some charity money, locals leaped all over her motives and her methods, accusing her of doing an end run around the country’s adoption laws. She defended her actions largely through written statements and through a lawyer. And when Sharon Stone made that stupendous gaffe about the China earthquake being "karma" for the country’s occupation of Tibet, she let her sponsor, the fashion company Dior, issue an apology on her behalf.

Now it seems that celebrities are having less and less use for handlers when they venture outside their private bubbles of fabulousness. The result: some very, um, entertaining quotes.

"I have sweat in my blood," Jean has proclaimed in his defense.

If Jean does have any flacks working with him on his campaign, we wish them luck in spinning that one.

-- Leslie Gornstein

Top photo: Singer Wyclef Jean amid supporters in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Aug. 5, 2010. Credit: Andres Martinez Casares / EPA

Second photo: Former President Bill Clinton, who heads UN efforts to rebuild Haiti, shakes hands with Sean Penn after the actor received a medal during a remembrance ceremony on July 12, 2010, on the grounds of the destroyed presidential palace in Port-au-Prince, on the six-month anniversary of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake. Credit: Thony Belizaire / AFP / Getty Images

Related dispatches from the Ministry of Gossip: 

Robin Wright and Sean Penn officially divorced [poll]

Sean Penn cuts a deal over altercation with photographer

Paparazzo's sex-furniture business far more intriguing than his lawsuit against Sean Penn

Maria Conchita Alonso goes off on Sean Penn for supporting Hugo Chavez

Haiti quake relief: Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt rally behind Wyclef Jean to help; Twitter roster grows

Earthquake in Haiti: celebrities and fans respond on Twitter

Looking for opinions with attitude? Stop by the Preach It! archives.

Comments () | Archives (12)

I think a lot of people are concerned about wyclef lack of political experience and poor education...and these are legitimate concerns for anyone who can reason.

To be honest with you, Clef is certainly not my first choice, but I would rather support him those super educated Haitian candidates who have been running for president ever since I was a boy, all they do is give great french speeches, they don't really care about the people, they have no visions. They have lots of money but they wont help the country unless they are president..it's the same guys, it's guys like Manigats, Yvone Neptune, Jacques Edouard Alexis, the late Hubert Deronceray etc.......

I am all for a change just like we got rid of the bulky portable cd players for the stylish mp3 players.....

Hey, what about Sean Penn for president?

sean penn rocks, we need more people like him in this world

Sean Penn Sucks! He should concentrate on being a better husband & stop trying to be seen! Oh that's right, he's divorced. Lol!

Wyclef officially announces he’s running for President … on CNN?

After weeks of demurring and struggling to come to terms with the “sacrifice” of Beijing Haiti’s next president, Wyclef Jean announces he’s running for president on CNN. How many of the 2.1 million people living in the tent cities do you think saw that announcement? He went on to say that he was inspired by Obama’s campaign and will be integrating a big Internet component to his campaign to raise money in Haiti. Do they have Wi-Fi in the tent cities? Does he actually know he’ll be elected by the Haitian people? To serve the Haitian people? And that he will have to live in Haiti to do that?

Wyclef confidently told Wolf Blitzer (sitting in for Larry King) on CNN (aka the Clinton News Network) that he had been “drafted” by the youth of Haiti to run. He is going to represent the youth of Haiti and put people around him who know how to govern. What? He then said he was “neutral” – and will work with all parties. Really? He’s Preval’s roving Ambassador – how is he “neutral”.

And then he said he was going to “hop on his plane” and travel around the world to make sure countries paid the money the promised. He was outraged (and rightfully so) that only 5% of the money has been delivered. What??

Bill Clinton can chase the aid money around the world – leave it to the UN Special Envoy to do that. What Haiti needs is a leader – with experience and a good track record. Not a recording artist (who, BTW, most industry insiders refer to as Wy-theft because he steals their music) with an abysmal track record of managing his charity and his person finances (see …). He used the charity money to pay his girlfriend, finance his concert series and buy a TV station. He clearly doesn’t care about where the line of legality is – he just steps right over it every time. He even had his personal mansion in Miami go into foreclosure. He also owed the New Jersey government about $183,000 in back taxes, and he told Wolf “it’s been handled.” Does New Jersey know that?

It was uncomfortable to watch him bob and weave and duck the tough questions (about taxes, mishandling his charity, foreclosure, lack of experience, citizenship, language skills, etc --- Wolf went through the whole list). But perhaps the most telling statement was this:

“An election won in Haiti and lost in the US and around the world is not an election – it must be won in the international community”.

Really? The Haitian people don’t have the ultimate say and the ultimate authority to right the wrongs of the past two decades? Seems he might really think that the US will get him elected. Wonder why? I would suggest that everyone closely watch his relationship with the Clinton machine. Somehow I bet that big Haiti projects will be going to key PR firms and management consultants over the next few months.

He is so out of touch it’s incredible. He got off some private plane in a suit with his wife and daughter in tow waving for the cameras … like he was campaigning in the US! Sean Penn was interviewed afterwards and talked about the big “vulgar” motorcade that he took around the city flaunting his wealth in a country that isn’t even scratching by. Why would he think that’s inspiring?

And, something I find so incredibly unbelievably annoying, he referred to himself in the third person the whole time. “Wyclef wouldn’t do that,” and “Wyclef Jean has never done that.” Oh brother … the Haitian people deserve a real candidate. This is a joke.

He couldn't possibly be any worse than his predecessors.

But it's what the people want in Haiti that counts. Only time will tell whether they want Wyclef.

Whomever winds up as POH, he'll be on the first plane to D.C. with his hand out to his new BFF, Obama -- and it won't be because he wants to high-five The Bamster!

"Then, Sean Penn emerged from his own derriere for a couple of seconds..."

OR, did he emerge from the tent city in which he has been living and helping earthquake survivors for the past six months with no thoughts of power, political gain or recompense?

My comment was much better than these other BS'ers. I see you're censoring pro-Wyclef comments. Shame on you. You call yourself a news organization.

@marie dhatii -- Christie D'Zurilla here from the blog. I have no record of another comment from you. If you used profanity or included a link, your comment may have been deleted. Please feel free to resubmit.


Sean Penn is extremely jealous of Wyclef Jean because after just 6 months there, he would like to rule Haiti. I am glad that many Americans are finding out for the first time, how beautiful Haiti and its people really are after decades of lies by the Media that basically destroyed our tourism industry. However, that doesn't give him the right to trash one of Haiti's most beloved sons, just because "HE" hasn't seen him. Apparently Wyclef SHOULD HAVE SHOWN UP! at the camp to do obescience to him. The unfortunate part is that many seem all too willing to forget all the great work Wyclef has done on behalf of Haiti now that "the white man" has said they should. Wyclef is an entertainer who makes millions a year, he doesn't need to set up a charity just so he can steal $400,000. There is such a thing as expenses, all charities have them. Who is calling the Red Cross and others up on the fact that 90% of monies donated to them go into salaries and other expenses. Was he supposed to take money out of his own pocket (which he has
many times anyway) to pay rent for yele haiti. Was he supposed to not pay for services provided to yele regarding a concert. How many technicians and other professionals would have shown up to work. Why are we holding Wyclef and his relatively small organization up to a higher if not impossible standard than big non-profits. No one would think of asking them why they are taking contributed monies to pay rent, salaries, and other expenses. Yet people try to discredit Wyclef for something perfectly normal. I guess Wyclef would have to run his own bank account into the ground, become penniless, and start living in tents in Haiti, while Sean Penn lives in Malibu, for us to really think he was doing something. Would we really respect him then? Just look at the poor, penniless people in Haiti living in tents and ask yourself how many people really respect them and you'll have your answer.--Shout out to Wyclef!--I appreciate all your sacrifices on behalf of our country.

dear losangelestimes please aga good newsfor you wyclef jean
ilove you wyclef jean my great experience haiti education
univercity please god save haiti weneed haiti please

Le Rossignol D'Haiti says:

27 August 2010 -> 14:26 hour
Mr. Wyclef Jean, it appears that you have good intentions about Haiti.

You might be able to improve the image of Haiti.

To do so, it is important that you prepare yourself for the task.
You need to put your house in order by upgrading your education.

Right now you are no match intellectually for those presidential candidates of November 2010.
The C.E.P. has done you a favor by using the residency requirement as a face saving rejection for you.
If you sincerely want to become President of Haiti, I will not advise you to go back to school in the U.S. to get a credential without an education.

I strongly suggest that you find a team of Haitian professors or mentors that like you to teach you those following subjects: Creole, French, Spanish, Literature, Logic, Argument and Debate, Speech, Math, Science, Social Science, Statistics, Politics, Diplomacy, Economics, Finance,Managment and Home Economics If you attend class with them eight hours a day for six days a week, you will need at least ten consecutive years to learn those basics skills. You are no longer a teenager,it will take you longer to learn.

Le Rossignol D'Haiti


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