Conservatives usually have a few bones to pick with Hollywood over the Academy Awards. Not content with merely opening it, Hollywood pushes the envelope, often with questionable taste and mockery of common values.
Nevertheless, Washington and Hollywood are linked at the hip like Siamese twins. It's a love-hate relationship; one with changing party affections over the years. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan each sent greetings to the awards ceremony -- FDR by radio in 1941 and Ronald Reagan with videotape 40 years later. Both offered encouragement to one of our most popular cultural institutions.
The real stars, as both Hollywood and Washington can agree, are the fat cats, and right now they're mostly Democrats. Jack Kennedy's close association with Frank Sinatra put him dangerously close to the mob. A decade or two later, Charlton Heston stepped off his chariot to become president of the National Rifle Association, and gave big bucks and warm praise to the Gipper's campaigns. The Reagans stayed close to their Hollywood friends.
Washington isn't Paris or London. Haute fashion and gritty politics don't mix well in the nation's capital. You could hear howls of outrage from conservatives demanding the separation of Hollywood and the White House on Sunday, when the first lady surprised the Academy Awards audience to announce the Oscar for best picture.
Their anger is understandable, given the uncritical press for Barack Obama's copycat version of Camelot, and the first lady fit right in, adding her hyperbolic rhetoric to praise the big screen. The nominees for best picture, she said, remind us "that we can overcome any obstacle if we dig deep enough and fight hard enough and find the courage to believe in ourselves." (Really?)
What's ironic is that she probably wouldn't have appeared at all if she thought the winning movie would be "Zero Dark Thirty," which renewed a debate over "enhanced interrogation techniques." Nor did the White House, or the Pentagon, show good judgment by contributing several soldiers and sailors as a backdrop for the first lady. In their gold-braid uniforms, they looked like they were about to break into a chorus from Gilbert and Sullivan.
Her presence hardly suggested an imperial imprimatur or an "officially crowned winner," as one critic suggested. With "Argo," the odds-on favorite, the first lady must have guessed she would announce a movie reflecting America's "can-do CIA spirit" -- not a behind the scenes look at the search for Osama bin Laden, but an in-your-face rescue of six American diplomats during the Iranian hostage crisis.