Randy Newman's state of the union
Forget about the lame duck who can't even get the support of his own party- Randy Newman has his own state of the union address. Last year in an interview/performance as part of the New Yorker Festival, Newman previewed a song from his upcoming album. He worried that although he wasn't a hawk, he didn't want to come across with the usual bleeding heart sentiments, even if he agreed with such ideas in principle. Newman is the kind of guy who sees wrenching difficult issues and looks deep at the ugly root of it- think of his 1974 album about racists (Good Old Boys) or his numerous songs where he gets in the mind of murderers (no wonder he's such an Eminem fan).
It's no different for the Iraq War- the way he sees it, it's just a part of history. The lyrics of "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country" were recently printed in the New York Times as an op-ed piece and they deserve to be reprinted.
I’d like to say a few words
In defense of our country
Whose people aren’t bad nor are they mean
Now the leaders we have
While they’re the worst that we’ve had
Are hardly the worst this poor world has seen
Let’s turn history’s pages, shall we?
Take the Caesars for example
Why within the first few of them
They had split Gaul into three parts
Fed the Christians to the lions
And burned down the City
And one of ’em
Appointed his own horse Consul of the Empire
That’s like vice president or something
That’s not a very good example, is it?
But wait, here’s one, the Spanish Inquisition
They put people in a terrible position
I don’t even like to think about it
Well, sometimes I like to think about it
Just a few words in defense of our country
Whose time at the top
Could be coming to an end
Now we don’t want their love
And respect at this point is pretty much out of the question
But in times like these
We sure could use a friend
Men who need no introduction
King Leopold of Belgium. That’s right.
Everyone thinks he’s so great
Well he owned The Congo
He tore it up too
He took the diamonds, he took the gold
He took the silver
Know what he left them with?
A president once said,
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”
Now it seems like we’re supposed to be afraid
It’s patriotic in fact and color coded
And what are we supposed to be afraid of?
Why, of being afraid
That’s what terror means, doesn’t it?
That’s what it used to mean
The end of an empire is messy at best
And this empire is ending
Like all the rest
Like the Spanish Armada adrift on the sea
We’re adrift in the land of the brave
And the home of the free
Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.
So, yes folks- Bush, Cheney and friends don't look so bad when you add it all up historically. But you do have to go back a few centuries to find them some company.