Rock And Roll And The Republican Party

“I’ve spent a life exploring
That subtle whoring
That costs too much to be free
I’ve been to Paradise, but I’ve never been to me”

Charlene, “I’ve Never Been To Me,” 1981

Yeah, I don’t think of pop music and the GOP together too often, either.

But a couple of classics — meaning they were popular when I was rocking the disco blouse or trying in vain to feather my hair — seem appropriate for the GOP field, especially after Tuesday’s Iowa caucus results.

First, we have resolution to Michelle Bachmann’s dilemma regarding the future of her campaign — whether to change course and drop out, or buckle down and redouble her efforts. But she says she’s out, so the question of “Bachmann: Turn Or Overdrive?” is off the table for reasons I’m cautiously celebrating. That is, I’m thrilled that so few sentient beings in Iowa actually thought she was a reasonable choice for leader of the free world.

Perhaps now the Minnesota Congresswoman can focus on educating her husband Marcus on the difference between pedophiles and gay men. Why would we expect a moral health professional to know that on his own?

On the other hand, my joy was, as I said, muted. Thousands of those who couldn’t justify voting for Bachmann flocked eagerly to Rick Santorum, whose campaign focus seems largely to be based on his moral outrage over sentiments like those expressed in Billy Joel’s “Come out, Virginia.” (“Come out, Virginia, and don’t be late/Catholic girls start much too late/they say there’s a heaven for those who wait/but sinners have much more fun”).

I don’t know how else a presidential candidate determines that marital contraception is an appropriate national campaign platform issue. Certainly many committed Roman Catholic politicians, regardless of their personal convictions regarding contraception, have determined that the things Jesus actually spoke about, things like justice for the poor and peacemaking, warrant more attention than whether or not oral sex is sinful for married couples to engage in. So it doesn’t seem, as a plank in his platform, to be part-and-parcel of Santorum’s Catholicism. While Rick and Karen are blessedly free to eschew birth control in their marriage, his condemnation of other couples’ choices represents a dangerously unwieldy burden on American people who expect their President to concern himself with that part of their economic well-being not tied to the purchase of Trojans.

Finally, we have the ineffably immoral Newt Gingrich, whose every utterance brings to mind pop chanteuse Charlene’s words above. Nothing about Newt’s egotistical and reckless prostituting of himself is without cost to a nation that only a month ago, as he rose to the top of the GOP heap, appeared close to anointing him Vicar of the Viciously Virtuous. It seems now that Newt is himself reaping some cost, but the mere fact that he’s taken seriously as a candidate after two decades of pompous, pernicious conduct on the national stage is sobering. That a former Speaker of the House and national cultural lightning rod could reintroduce himself to so many gullible, uninformed conservative voters as a religious, reasonable, refreshing voice from the outside is an indication that today’s GOP is as intellectually bankrupt as it is morally insolvent.

There’s no anti-tax pledge in the world that can remedy that one.

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