First you have the Republicans, those models of rhetorical decency, moral rectitude, and polished speechifying, the same ones who called Pres. Clinton either Bubba or Slick Willy for his entire two terms as president, when not actually impeaching him. And those were the nice names they called him. The same Republicans who have been chipping away at the English language for thirty years, 'til many Americans are convinced that the definition of liberal is a crazed, tax and spend, socialist, self-indulgent plague upon the land. The same ones whose minions on the radio saw fit to make fun of the face of a thirteen-year-old girl, because her father was president, and who recently hauled Malia Obama before their court of public disapproval. The very same ones who deliberately and with malice aforethought brought us the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who attempted to destroy the reputation of a decorated veteran of Viet Nam because he had the effrontery to run for president. In all these shenanigans, there was no outcry, there was no shock or shame, there was no thoughtful consideration of the possibility that they might have gone a little too FAR. No, none of that bothered them--after all, all's fair in war, which they have declared perpetually against anyone not a Republican. Fabricated slurs against John McCain? No more problem than lying about John Kerry. They are proudly the party that will say absolutely anything about anyone if it will help them to win.
A year and a half after the end of two appointed Bush presidencies, enter the singer, to pick up an award at the White House. The singer is pretty good at what he does, and his liberal credentials are old and established: marijuana: signed petition to decriminalize it in the 1960s; vegetarianism: been touting it for close to 30 years, I think; running roughshod over the environment: wrote song agin it and performed it on world tour; cruelty to animals: wrote another song, performed same; civil rights in America: wrote Black Bird in the 1960s and is still performing it. Right after 9/11, which McCartney observed from a plane that never took off that day from JFK, McCartney was inclined to support George Bush, on the grounds that Bush had some hard work in front of him, and a united front is better than a disunited one. Then a friend gave him a book that compiled Mr. Bush's public statements, and McCartney saw what everyone else was talking about. Apparently McCartney is a member of the reality based community.
But the most important thing to remember about this singer is that he doesn't do rude, he doesn't write songs that are rude except to exactly two classes of people: rain forest destroyers, and those who experiment on animals without a pretty damned good reason. He was known as the "keen" Beatle, for his good manners with the press and all other classes of people. When John Lennon slagged him off with a vicious and personal song, How Do You Sleep at Night, McCartney didn't reply in kind. If he replied at all, only John Lennon could be sure what he was saying. I repeat: McCartney doesn't do rude. He thinks of gently funny and inoffensive things to say to the Queen, and everyone else. The community of rock critics have been slagging him off venomously for years, and he doesn't respond in kind. He does something positive, instead of hating.
And on the night of the award of the Library of Congress Gershwin award, McCartney was rude. Undeniably, quietly, accurately rude. I feel certain that if all George Bush had ever done was to be singularly inept at public speaking, McCartney would have left him out of his comments, but of course that's not all he did. On the night of the award ceremony, Bush was talking to a group of people and mentioned that if he had to decide whether to torture people again, he'd do it again. ("America does not torture!")
And the Republicans are outraged, OUTRAGED! Disrespect of America, lack of class, CRASSNESS! Washed up rock star, this, that, and the other.
Two things: McCartney was rude, and he hasn't apologized. He's out there singing Blackbird, and Michelle, and a number of other fine songs, promoting Meat Free Mondays, and generally having a fine time connecting with people on themes of love, peace, understanding, civilization, and rocking out. And the Republicans are standing in their glass house whining. This is JUST the story I needed to distract me from contemplating the befouling of the Gulf of Mexico. Listen, people, if you want to listen to someone talking, you're a whole lot better off with the singer than with the ex-President and his entire party.