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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bruce, Michelle, Jeremiah And Their Discontents

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I like Bruce Springsteen's music; always have. Born to Run, Thunder Road, Pink Cadillac and all the rest are great songs with interesting lyrics, catchy hooks and a way of sticking in your head. And Bruce is a helluva performer, putting on shows of legendary length and power. But I really don't give a damn who Bruce thinks should be President.

On Wednesday he announced in a letter that he was supporting Barack Obama for President saying that,

"He has the depth, the reflectiveness, and the resilience to be our next president," the letter said. "He speaks to the America I've envisioned in my music for the past 35 years, a generous nation with a citizenry willing to tackle nuanced and complex problems, a country that's interested in its collective destiny and in the potential of its gathered spirit. A place where '...nobody crowds you, and nobody goes it alone.' "
Well. What is he talking about? Where exactly in Obama's shallow mantra of "hope" and "change" does Springsteen see "reflectiveness"? Barack Obama is the most liberal Senator in the Senate, with policies that were old when Ted Kennedy was thin. Where does Bruce see nuance?

In all the time I've followed his career I can't remember a single instance where Springsteen ever encountered a conservative. Everything he says of his political philosophy is couched in words that could have been said by Woody Guthrie. His songs, while filled with force and yearning are also filled with images of an America stuck in a romanticized depression-era angst. His lyrics are throw-back lyrics where the union-man slaves along gettin' no break, and goes home to his wife whose hopes are gone and whose kids 'er hungry an' hurtin'. While there is certainly hardship in the US this is a country where the average poor person has cable and air conditioning. Bruce doesn't seem like he he knows he's living in an America with the Internet, and Medicaid and welfare and social programs on social programs let along 401k's and IPods.

And that is the problem with other Obama friends and family, too. Michelle Obama the other day appeared on The Colbert's Report.Here she was, a Princeton and Harvard graduate, a lawyer, a wealthy woman and the wife of the man who may well (God help us) be the next President of the US. And she was angry, dropping into ungrammatical language to whine about her upbringing which while not John Kerry wealthy was still orders of magnitude ahead of the average income level of much of the rest of the world. But then Michelle Obama always seems to be angry. Instead of seeing the miracle of a nation like the US where the descendant of slaves could accomplish all that she has, she acts like she is still suffering the indignities of the Jim Crowe days. In her head she lives in another era and can't see that America has made good and wonderful changes.

And not only is Barack Obama's wife lost in the past so is his pastor. Jeremiah Wright's ranting at an America that no longer exists (and in some cases never existed) has been documented extensively enough that there is no need to show it again. But he too can't seem to recognize that we are not living in some fictionalized America-of-the-past where FDR was the George W. Bush of the 1940s, supposedly knowing about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in advance.

Barack's chants of hope and change start to ring hollow when it becomes obvious that so many of those closest to him and those who are attracted to him don't seem able to see that things have changed already. How can Obama bring "change" (and we won't even get into the question of what kind of change he wants to bring) when his world seems so full of those he don't know what it looks like when it is staring them in the face?

Bruce may have been Born To Run but maybe its time he stopped running and looked around him. He might be surprised to see what year he's in.

2 comments:

Jed Swartz said...

The way Springsteen uses the terms "collective destiny" and "gathered spirit" scare me.

It's almost like a wink and a nod to fellow socialists.

Nocomme1 said...

When you stop tapping your toe and actually start listening to some of Bruce's more political lyrics you can definetly hear a fascistic theme running through them.