A couple of weeks ago, I hit the wall. While watching Greg Palast's Bush Family Fortunes documentary, I realized it was impossible for me to hate George Bush's presidency in any greater measure than I already do. I didn't realize this was possible, but there I was, staring vacantly at the television, rambling off economic stats and numbers of war dead and spiderweb connections of conspiracy like some tinfoil-hat nutjob … to nobody in particular.
That was when it came to me that for every frothing lefty to whom Bush is a proto-fascist oligarch, there's a flag-waving, Bible-toting, money-making righty to whom Bush is a political savior. And no amount of factual propaganda could ever convince those people that their guy was a danger to the American way of life. After all, those people are the same ones who wanted to impeach a highly successful president because he got a blow job and lied about it but forgive Bush for lying about practically every element of his presidency. They have insisted that the cross and the flag are exclusively Republican symbols, and would sacrifice their children's dignity for political expediency. They overlook the reality of a horribly executed and unnecessary war, and are more concerned with their stock portfolios than the physical, mental and economic well-being of those less fortunate than them. They don't care about the environment, civil rights or the Constitution (except the gun part). Those values are what Team Bush represents, and sadly, many of the people on Team Bush don't even know that. If you try and tell them, they won't accept it. They shout, "liberal bias." They shout, "anti-American." They shout, "What about the troops/children/baby Jesus?" We shout, they shout back, we shout louder, they raise the terror alert and politics in America devolves into a game in which rivalry trumps reason.
Thus, the excitement that I had at one point for the stack of "political" CDs growing on my desk has diminished somewhat. Previously, I was stoked to see America's creative class dusting off their complacency and deciding to take a stand. Now, despite the still-increasing size of the stack, I couldn't care less. There's not one, but two soundtracks to Fahrenheit 9/11. One is on Rhino and contains the music that was in the movie, the other is on Epic and consists of "songs and artists that inspired" the project. The former fails without the context of the movie; the latter, despite the inclusion of some righteous material from Zack de la Rocha and The Clash, is depressing because it's more preaching to the choir.
But preaching to the choir is what this political season has been all about. Whether it's the Election 2004 Anti-Theft Device sampler disc from Waterbug Records (with cuts like Dan Bern's "Bush Must Be Defeated," it's not long on subtlety), Barsuk Records' indie-centric Future Soundtrack for America or The Very Best of the O'Franken Factor (a selection of hilarious and biting bits from Al Franken's radio program which I listened to religiously … before I hit the wall), there aren't a lot of new thoughts being peddled here.
Unbelievably, amid dreck like Beat Bush, Dump Bush (which contains nine different versions jazz, Latin, alternative, etc. of the same crappy song), some inventive takes on our nation's peril did emerge: A five-track EP by The Swift Boat Pests (www.bagsby.com) takes the moral depravity of the right's political machine as a sign that "humanity is a failed experiment." Right on!
More inspiring still is Lullabies From the Axis of Evil. Turning Bush's dehumanizing phrase on its head, these 15 tracks present traditional music from Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Syria, Afghanistan you know, the bad people. Except these songs really are traditional bedtime songs. For children. Yeah, those kids that the righties always claim to be about happen to sprout up in other countries as well. And they're just as innocent and just as in need of food, shelter and parents to comfort them at night as our imperialist spawn.
So, if reason doesn't appeal to Team Bush, perhaps they might be swayed by the notion that their fearless leader is willing to guiltlessly coerce us into agreeing to annihilate the recipients of these lullabies.
Then again, maybe not. After all, what's more important, children or victory?