Until recently, Whoopi Goldberg could be seen in Slim-Fast diet ads with the slogan "I'm a Big Loser," holding her now-too-big pants out a few inches. So when Whoopi insulted the president at an early July fundraiser for John Kerry in New York City by going on an extended rant ("X-rated," said the New York Post) about keeping "bush" in your pants instead of in the White House, you could understand why Slim-Fast thought their sales pitch had just been distastefully discombobulated.
When Slim-Fast gave Whoopi the boot, her sympathizers broke out barrels of high dudgeon about the suppression of free political speech for artists. But do we need to inject vulgarity into our already feisty politics? Is that how we now teach our children about the glories of democracy and campaigning?
Unfortunately, Sen. Kerry didn't fuss about the spectacle, proclaiming at the party that the performers were the "heart and soul" of America. But eventually, Kerry did have to answer for the event.
In a round of pre-convention interviews, Kerry was confronted with this question by Peter Jennings: "President Bush says that you're kowtowing to Hollywood. And you described the people who were with you in Radio City Music Hall the other night as the heart and soul of America. Both President Clinton and Vice President Gore had called in their time on Hollywood for less violence and less sex. Do you feel a need to do the same thing?"
Kerry replied: "Yes, I think there should be less violence and less sex. And when I talked about the heart and soul, I'm talking about the artistic expression ... I think there were people at that concert we had in New York who stepped over the line. I've said that. They don't speak for me. They speak for themselves. I will stand up and struggle, as others have, to try to get that right balance between violence, and sex, and things."
Viewers at home would get the distinct impression from this exchange that Kerry only starts talking about achieving a "right balance" when someone brings up the topic of broadcast sex and violence. Washington's usual idea of a "right balance" is to jaw-jaw against too much violence and sex when prodded, but then do nothing. Kerry could take up the cause with vigor like Michael Copps -- a forceful FCC commissioner and a career Democrat.