Friday, September 10, 2004

Partisan Tunes in Partisan Ears

Readers may recall a post from a while back on campaigns' use of music and poetry - sometimes with ironic effects belying a lack of pop-cultural and/or historical savvy. I then noted how applicable CCR's Fortunate Son is in today's world.

Then, today, Power Line blog, the folks who seemingly broke the forgery story by pulling together in a Linux-like, open source way, experts to point out flaws in the Killian documents, posted this, on the Kerry campaign's adoption of Fortunate Son as a campaign song.

Reading it, there's no question what side these kids are on (in case you couldn't tell already).

The post stems from an AP article about the song. Building from the documents, or at least the content if not the hard copies, the Kerry campaign seeks to paint Bush as "a very fortunate son who uses connections and pulls strings for special favors." To which I say, "duh," but many Americans seem still not to believe.

Ah - but wait, here's where Power Line's telephonic blogging snaps a wire: the campaign isn't using the song, so much as the title. The article says the campaign has dubbed its new messaging effort "Operation Fortunate Son." That's a little different than playing it at a rally - though perhaps that comes next (which would mix messages, if you think about it.)

Power Line comments that "in a political context the "Fortunate Son" theme depends on a kind of class resentment that generally fails to resonate with average Americans."

I'm not sure in which America he lives. In my America - the one painting John Kerry as an out-of-touch, Boston, richie, liberal, windsurfer - it seems that class resentment is the way to go.

Using the song to sell Tommy Hilfiger is ironic and a misapplication of a powerful song to a set of consumers too young to get it (but sheesh, you'd think they'd at least have seen Forrest Gump). Using the song, or even just its title as shorthand for a feeling, to convey to the American people that Bush did inherit "star spangled eyes," and has sent us "down to war" works for me just fine.

The song was powerful in 1968 - and since so much of this election is a rehashing of that period, why not bring it out and show its timely message? But Power Line should also watch its accuracy. Perhaps the song itself will make it into the trail rotation. But probably not since it would sound off at a Kerry rally (better in an Anti-Bush ad).

No comments: