Rude Awakening: Has Me-Centric Culture Stymied Our Democracy?

11/16/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It's "awkward public outbursts by public figures" week! Woo-hoo! We can start with Michael Moore, who always has had a penchant for public stunts and the embarrassment of his foes, and his new movie, Capitalism: A Love Story, is no exception. (Watch the trailer here.) Ted gives us a quick review (more on his blog), pondering the unchecked dangers of a free market system and wondering if Moore gives us a compelling argument for socialism. Maegan and Teresa, well, they're less on board; they're sick of Moore's tactics and believe this new movie will only help fuel the "Obama is a Muslim socialist terrorist" meme on the Right. But there's no stopping that anyway, right? Because it's the truth, and we all know how fast that travels...

Next up in our hall of fame of rudeness is South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson, whose outburst during President Obama's health care speech - "You lie!" - has been roundly criticized. With Wilson's half-hearted apology and his Democratic challenger raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in its aftermath, this is just another distraction from the real debate. But who cares? It's a me-centric world, and Joe Wilson's got a right to get his part of the Reality TV pie!

Oh, and Kanye? Mr. West's public outburst on stage at MTV's VMAs this week made for great TV and for an embarrassing moment for everyone involved. Was it staged? Are there no rules of civility in pop culture? (See: MTV's The Hills.) No matter. What's more important is that Obama called Kanye a "jackass" (why is this in quotes, MSM? You know what it means, right?) during an off-the-record interview. Well, crap. Can't Obama speak his mind with a live-mic on? (That did doom a certain California State Senator last week.) Is there even an off-the-record anymore? Can public figures trust anyone these days, or are they doomed to paralyzing total restraint in the fear that someone, somewhere is recording?

Finally, Obama's doing the full Ginsberg this Sunday, hitting each of the morning talk shows, all except one - Fox News. Boo. Wouldn't it be better if Obama took questions from a hostile host for once? I'd buy popcorn and watch. But this does seem like a big ol' case of overexposure; do we need to see Obama so much on TV? What about online? What about through social media? YouTube videos? What's with the social media snub, Mr. President?

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Wilshire & Washington, the weekly Blog Talk Radio program that explores the intersection of politics, entertainment, and new media, features co-hosts Ted Johnson, Managing Editor of Variety; conservative blogger Teresa Valdez Klein (, and liberal blogger Maegan Carberry ( The show airs every Wednesday at 7:30am PST on