Raging Against Ryan
It’s testy when Republicans mix it up with rock musicians. It just doesn’t work out.
It started back in 1984 when Ronald Reagan attempted to use Bruce Springsteen’s "Born in the USA," which brought a veto from Springsteen who suggested Reagan should listen to the lyrics. This led to Reagan’s Democratic opponent Walter Mondale quipping that Springsteen may have been born in the USA, "but he wasn’t born yesterday."
In the near-thirty years since, such GOP stalwarts as Bob Dole, George H. W. Bush, Mike Huckabee, John McCain and even Sarah Palin got shot down when they attempted to use music by Democratic-leaning musicians in their campaigns. Remember Palin tried to use Heart’s "Barracuda" in 2008 since the song-title is one of Palin’s nicknames? Despite complaints, Palin didn’t cease using the song, which led Ann Wilson to feel "completely fucked over" and sister Nancy to say, "Sarah Palin’s views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women."
More recently Florida senatorial candidate Charlie Crist had to apologize to David Bowie, who sued over the unauthorized use of "Road to Nowhere" and Survivor criticized Newt Gingrich for using "Eye of a Tiger" for three years without permission. Nor could state loyalty overcome politics when Chris Christie was told that his idol Bruce Springsteen refused to meet him (or play at his Inauguration party). Christie even wrote an article in the Atlantic about his bromance with the Boss.
Nothing seems more incongruous, though, than GOP VP-designate candidate Paul Ryan’s love of the band Rage Against the Machine. In discussing contradictions in Ryan’s character, the New York Times wrote: "But he counts Rage Against the Machine, which sings about the greed of oil companies and whose Web site praises the anti-corporate Occupy Wall Street movement, among his favorite bands."
But Rage Against the Machine doesn’t count Ryan as one of their favorite politicians. On Thursday Tom Morello, guitarist for the band, writes in a Rolling Stone editorial:
"Paul Ryan’s love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades. Charles Manson loved the Beatles but didn’t understand them. Governor Chris Christie loves Bruce Springsteen but doesn’t understand him. And Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine.
"Ryan claims that he likes Rage’s sound, but not the lyrics. Well, I don’t care for Paul Ryan’s sound or his lyrics. He can like whatever bands he wants, but his guiding vision of shifting revenue more radically to the one percent is antithetical to the message of Rage...
"Don’t mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta ’rage’ in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he’s not raging against is the privileged elite he’s groveling in front of for campaign contributions."
Morello, the Huffington Post reported, "has a history of outspoken activism. Together with actor Mark Ruffalo and Coldplay singer Chris Martin, he has recently advocated for a ’Robin Hood Tax’ which would levy a tax on all financial transactions. That money would then be used to assist those who suffered at the hands of the recession.
"Morello also put out a call for 10,000 guitarists to join him in an Occupy Wall St. ’guitarmy’ in April."
Does this mean the band won’t be jamming with Ted Nugent and Kid Rock at the GOP convention next week?