I stayed up late to watch “Nightline” investigate the plight of that precious breed of Liberal Singers and Actors with the conscience and courage to speak out for John Kerry. The news roundup at the beginning showed an attempt to be balanced, including cogent commentary from our pal Robert George of the New York Post. But is it fair or accurate for ABC to place the Dixie Chicks next to Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, as if they were equals in political sophistication?
Then came Ted Koppel’s interview with Bruce Springsteen. Was this Nightline….or Dateline? What a flabby celebrity interview. Sure, Koppel told Springsteen he might not be popular, that some would be “pissed off” at his activism. But he didn’t really challenge him as if he might be wrong. You could argue Koppel’s tone was “whoa, this is a little dangerous for you, to be so bold for the right thing.” All Springsteen brought to the table, except for a wacky line about democracy under Team Bush “devolving into oligarchy” (does the E Street Band know the “Twilight Zone” theme?), was lame Democratic talking points about kids being cut off from after-school programs and the like, stuff he could have cribbed from last week’s convention speeches.
The hardball-throwing Ted Koppel viewers expect would have been tougher than this. He would have asked how just two years ago, Springsteen was supportive of war in Afghanistan, that he did a whole album on the human losses of September 11. So how is electing John Kerry going to continue the war on terror? I’d be tougher, still: In 1991, Mr. Springsteen, you played a concert for the Christic Institute, a radical-left group which insisted that the CIA was ruining Nicaragua which at that time had a dictatorship, or perhaps you’d call it a “devolved oligarchy.” Now it’s a democracy. Any apologies for the Chamorros and other Nicaraguan democrats?
And finally, can we get over the self-pitying idea that small-minded conservatives insist that only Artists have to pay a price for being “citizens” of America? Wrong. When conservatives ask stars to “shut up and sing,” they’re singling out how the media build a glittery platform for ill-informed stars to mouth off about topics they don’t exactly sound impressive discussing. “Shut up and sing” says do what you do best. Spare us your special pleading about how Artists have a bigger social conscience, just like they have a bigger bank account. It’s the reverse of Michael Moore whacking John Ashcroft for singing instead of being Attorney General.