The bloggers are running rampant over the past couple of days regarding the wisdom of the Democratic candidates appearing in Hollywood before the bigwigs in a televised setting more akin to the Academy Awards than a serious political discussion. The gist of the controversy is that the liberal elite which controls the movie industry is morally separated from real Americans and, that to emphasize the contended lockstep arrangement between Hollywood and the Democratic party is to do real damage to the party in mainstream America. I disagree. In fact I have several reasons for doing so. The first is my observation is that it is the Republicans who fan this fire with the likes of the former drug addict Rush Limbaugh who long ago conveniently disregarded the adage that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks. If celebrity alignment wasn't an important consideration let me ask the question as to whether it is a Democrat or a Republican who travels with Chuck (who?) Norris or Jon Voight (loved him in Midnight Cowboy) or the Terminator? In fact, the Republicans like their Hollywood stars so much they have put one in the White House and the California gubernatorial office (twice).
The second and more important of my reasons for disagreement is that there was a seminal moment during the debate that occurred when Barack Obama was asked about the impact of the movie industry on young children. He gave a thoughtful and intelligent answer that both acknowledged the freedom of expression and emphasized the responsibility that the industry has to keep in mind as to the potential impact of its films on youngsters with regard to both sex and violence. At that moment, the TV camera panned to Rob (Meathead) Reiner whose slight grimace suggested to me that he might not agree with Obama's statement. Obama, a father of two young children, delivered a major message to an audience of powerful people on something that needed to be said. Score big points for Obama, the principle of freedom of expression and the rigor of healthy debate in our democracy. A president can set the moral tone for our country, not by pandering to a group of anti-scientific anti-evolutionaries, but by carrying a simple and direct message right to the people who make and sell the nation's movies. The setting for delivering this point couldn't have been any better.