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FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, AUG. 9, 2013
POLITICS -- THE MUSICAL
BY BOB FRANKEN
If you’re a baseball fan, you’re probably aware that major leaguers get to choose the song that blares from the speakers as they trudge to the batter’s box. What you hear is a genre variety of rap, country and some heavy metal. Some of the tracks are weird; others just loud. It would be appropriate if Alex Rodriguez came on to the chorus of Chance the Rapper’s “Juice.” Don’t listen to the rest of it, because it’s offensive. Anyway, it isn’t going to happen. This shtick has been featured in the movie “Major League” -- which, to some of us, is a silver-screen classic. In it, Charlie Sheen plays a Cleveland Indians pitcher with serious control issues. One of the funniest scenes in this truly sophisticated film is his entrance to The Troggs’ “Wild Thing.”
What if the players in the contact sport of politics could do the same thing? There’d have to be a few tweaks, of course. Take President Barack Obama. Yes, he does have “Hail to the Chief,” but isn’t that getting a bit tired? Besides, I use that as my wife’s ringtone, so it’s time for POTUS to get something new. Given complaints from his supporters about his lackadaisical leadership style, maybe instead of “Wild Thing,” he could be preceded by “Mild Thing”: “Mild thing. Progressive hearts sink.”
Conservatives are pleased with his decision to blow off Russian President Vladimir Putin and skip their little summit in Moscow. What a pity. Their last photo-op went so well. Which brings us to Vlad and his walk-on music: How about “Put on a Happy Face”?
The Obama snub was brought to you by Edward Snowden, who has gotten asylum in Russia after he leaked embarrassing secrets about the United States government electronically spying on its own citizens.
Snowden must be painfully aware that his time in Mother Russia could be limited. His asylum is for only one year, so it’s entirely possible that once his hosts stop needing him to embarrass the Americans, he could be dropped like a stone and be forced into the life of a fugitive to escape incarceration back in the U.S. of A. Instead of a walk-on, his life could be a series of sneak-outs to the strains of Willie Nelson singing “On the Road Again.”
Back home, we all endure our own nonstop psychic torture, courtesy of Congress. The worst abuse comes from the House Republicans, controlled by the unruly tea-party extremists. Most of them got elected by telling fed-up voters in their gerrymandered districts that they didn’t know diddly about the federal government, so they would destroy it. Now, here they are, after riding into town like a malicious Clampett family. Instead of the “Beverly Hillbillies,” their theme could be the “Capitol Hillbillies” who have loaded up the truck and moved their bubblin’ crude to Washington -- D.C., that is.
Not that the hometown folks are any bargain. If you haven’t had a chance to read Mark Leibovich’s book “This Town,” you might want to. He really nails the phonies who inhabit the upper echelons here, the permanent residents who go to the same parties, always looking over each other’s shoulders as they chat, to make sure there’s not someone in the room who is more important. Mark calls it the “D.C. scalp stare.”
He names names. It’s brutally funny and all true. For those of us who stab so many in the back simply to be noticed in the nation’s capital, the only thing worse than being mentioned in the book is not being mentioned. Without a doubt, in the minds and alleged hearts of the players here, Leibovich deserves one song only: “Funeral March.” But we, too, have an appropriate anthem, though it’s a far cry from Mark’s Chopin. It’s from the blues group Fathead: “First Class Riff-Raff.”
© 2013 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate