Washington Post reporter Anne Hull went after Michele Bachmann on Saturday for trying to play a Tom Petty song at her campaign rallies, since Tom Petty is a memory of her marijuana-baked teen years:
How does a tea party candidate who owns a Christian counseling service on the side go to Iowa, crank up the Alpines and blast Tom Petty as a rallying call to conservative values?
There are many of us who don’t understand retail politics. We’re the ones who understand Tom Petty. You know, the Tom Petty of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers? Eight-track cassettes on the floor mats, an AMC Pacer clouded by smoke and a Big Gulp Mountain Dew paired with a bag of Funyuns.
Never buy it when a Washington Post reporter is trying to claim they “don’t understand retail politics.” That’s called playing dumb for effect. Hull knows perfectly well that candidates use popular songs that vaguely match their campaign theme to build energy at rallies. Later in the piece, to feign balance, she says the Clinton people “ruined” Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” in 1992. But back to Petty:
Petty has always looked like the guy who operates the Himalaya at the carnival, the one who is half-baked while pushing the throttle up to high when the siren comes on.
Petty is skin and bones. Dentistry was not a priority. But the man knows how to put the jangle in a guitar, and when he was playing the sweltering bars around Gainesville in the mid-1970s, he personified swamp rock and cannabis and cold beer, because in rural Florida, what else was there? Back then, the local sheriffs looked the other way when Cessna planes full of marijuana landed in cow pastures.
When I was in high school in Florida, we would stand around a barrel of burning trash on Friday nights in winter and listen to “American Girl.” The guy with the best car speakers would rig up the sound, all the doors to his beater Camaro flung wide open so the music was loud enough to make the zippers on our windbreakers vibrate. There were few bands whose music so complemented the activity of burning trash, all those embers going up in the night sky. Salzburg had Mozart. We had Petty.
Over time, Petty got big, and his songs were perfect stadium anthems. He let Hillary Clinton use “American Girl” for her campaign in 2008, also a far-fetched partnership but not as severe as one with Bachmann.
Some say “American Girl” is about a suicidal young woman; others say it’s a standard rocker about loss and desire. Neither interpretation really fits Bachmann, who wanted more God in the public school curriculum of her district back in Minnesota.
It is not okay for a Christian lady to climb up on a campaign stage with Petty caterwauling these words:
Oh yeah, all right,
Take it easy, baby,
Make it last all night.
She was an American girl.
Apparently, Hillary Clinton is not as much of a “Christian lady,” since Petty alowed her to use it. Hull concluded that maybe Bachmann smoked pot in her teen years (and let’s face it, liberal pot smokers think everyone smoked pot in their teen years):
Maybe Bachmann, in her youth, was one of us. Maybe playing “American Girl” in Waterloo last week was a secret wink to anyone who ever stood around a barrel of burning trash, thinking life will go one way, only to have it go another.