I was listening to NPR this morning as they covered the potential Presidential candidates' descent on Iowa. First there was Michele "John Wayne Gacy" Bachmann, who sounded as if she were speaking to a crowd of about ten based on the background clapping, but I think it was probably hundreds.
However, that crowd will have to be entertained by someone other than Tom Petty, who has told Bachmann to stop using his song "American Girl" in her campaign promos. It's an interesting song for a fear-mongering hate-filled xenophobe to use, since the song's lyrics basically depict a young woman trying to figure things out and looking for new experiences. Interestingly, Republicans have historically been tone deaf to a song's lyrical content, as when Reagan tried to use Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A" during his campaign, until the Boss told him to knock it off. As jingoistic as some Republicans may have thought the song was -- and the steady strong beat certainly adds to this sense -- the lyrics are anything but upbeat, even from the first line of "born down in a dead man's town."
Bachmann might want to find an artist more in tune with her politics, perhaps Ted Nugent. Or if she wants a song that's more a statement of her politics, she could try to call up the people at Resistance Records for a suitable act (OK, that might be going a bit too far, but I could seriously see her using some white supremacist record because it's "pro USA" and not understand the larger connections).
But wait, there's more! Bachmann wasn't the only hopeful in Iowa. Current President and 2012 hopeful Barack Obama was also out on the stump, although as President he can pass off certain visits as "part of his President business" and not as direct campaign stops. On the bits I heard from the NPR report, you can see why he'll be a tougher candidate to beat than the poll numbers might indicate right now: he knows how to connect to people (he's not as good as Bill Clinton, though: Clinton remains for me the top campaigner in the personal meet and greet in my lifetime). Marion Barry was also a hell of a campaigner. A shit executive, but a hell of a campaigner. Hmm.
And lest I forget, Sarah Palin, the undecided non-candidate whose on-and-off bus tour may be on again, was also in Iowa. Her ship has sailed, to bring in another transport metaphor, although I can only imagine Democrats salivating over their dream ticket of Palin-Bachmann.
But it's Iowa and it's June 2011. That's close to a year and a half from the election, and it's a sad thing when political campaigns have to start so early, because then we have to hear about political candidates for so long. I pity the fools. In the 24 hour news cycle, the media have nothing better to do than spend time trying to think of something new to say (or some new way to say something old) about the candidates.
In the age of the perpetual campaign, I suppose you could argue we're only six months and some spare change away from the start of the primaries, but what is Bachmann's shelf life on the national stage? I don't think the US has moved far enough right for her to win a general election, and I don't even think the Republican Party has moved far enough right for her to win the nomination.