Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Randy Newman's unique defense of America

I was feeling rather dispirited after last night's State of the Union address. More of the same old same old. More American soldiers will be killed and maimed. More Iraqis will be killed and maimed. The Forever War will continue with no end in sight, an expansion to Iran looming dead ahead on the road we're following.

Do nations really get the leadership they deserve? What sort of country ends up with someone like George Bush in the White House? It was as if Randy Newman could read my thoughts. He offers a unique defense of America in a song that the NYT ran (in abridged form) as an Op-Ed this morning.
I’d like to say a few words
In defense of our country
Whose people aren’t bad nor are they mean
Now the leaders we have
While they’re the worst that we’ve had
Are hardly the worst this poor world has seen...
Who was worse? Well, Newman goes on to point out, George Bush is no Hitler. He's no Stalin. And he's no Caligula, who was said to have thought about making his horse a Roman consul. Made me feel much better.

The song will be available on iTunes Jan. 30. There's more information at Newman's website, along with a link to the unabridged lyrics of "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country," which include some lines about the Supreme Court the NYT apparently found too tasteless to print. Imagine that -- Randy Newman, tasteless.


Anscombe said...

Why do you think that, just after the Caligula example, Randy sings "That's not a very good example, is it?". If the point of the song was "Bush is bad, but he's not *that* bad", Caligula would be an excellent example, for he was *that* bad. So I think the song must have a different point.

Excellent blog, by the way.

Madison Guy said...

Thanks, anscombe. As for Randy's "That's not a very good example, is it?" -- I think interpreting his lyrics literally is always a bit dangerous, since they're often cloaked in so many different levels of sarcasm and irony, but what the heck, I'll take a crack at it anyhow. In this case, I thought the "not a very good example" didn't refer directly to Caligula but to the comparison that was even closer to the question -- "... his own horse Consul of the Empire
That’s like vice president or something."

Randy seems to be saying literally that comparing Cheney and a horse holding high office is ridiculous -- but the tone suggests, well, maybe it's not. Maybe a horse as VP would have done less damage than Cheney.

Or at least that's how I read it, for what it's worth.

Anonymous said...

I understood the comparisons were meant to be "much worse" than the Bush adminisration. When it became clear that the comparison of Caligulas' and Bush's choices for VP (consul) were so similar, in the horror that would be inflicted on the "mob", that Newman nade this apparent by dismissing the example as not really meeting the criteria. The sililarity between the two might have been clearer had Caligula supposedly nominated his "horses' ass"!