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Tilting at Windmills

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June 4, 2010

NOTE TO GOP: LET IT BE.... President Obama hosted an event this week with Paul McCartney, where the legendary artist was awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize. That wouldn't be especially noteworthy, were it not for a 17-word joke the songwriter told. Salon's Alex Pareene had this report:

This is what happened: Paul McCartney won an award from the Library of Congress, because even though he had probably the third-best solo career as a Beatle, Ringo is not yet properly recognized for his songwriting prowess and the other two are dead. Sir Paul played a concert for President and Mrs. Obama.

At the end of the concert, Paul McCartney made a joke. He said: "After the last eight years, it's good to have a president that knows what a library is."

There are, to be sure, harsher jokes that can be told about the failed former president; I may have even told one or two. Indeed, this wasn't especially surprising. As Pareene put it, "Hippie '60s musician Paul McCartney, whose famous band championed a number of left-wing radical causes, made a joke about how he was glad to have a liberal intellectual as president instead of a conservative anti-intellectual."

But the right seems surprisingly worked up about this. Not only did National Review run a couple of angry items, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), the man who intends to be Speaker of the House this time next year, went so far as to issue a public statement, calling on Paul McCartney to "apologize to the American people for his conduct."

Seriously.

There are a few competing angles to this, but I'd like to emphasize just one. The same day McCartney told a harmless joke about George W. Bush's limited intellect, George W. Bush boasted about having ordered torture as president, and insisted he wouldn't change a thing if he had it to do over again.

So, just so we're clear, a musician telling a Bush-is-dumb joke generates a fair amount of outrage in some conservative circles. A former president admitting to ordering torture -- bragging about utilizing a technique that the United States has long considered criminal, and has even prosecuted -- is completely fine.

One, in Boehner's mind, requires an apology; the other is a source of partisan pride.

There's something deeply wrong with this picture.

Steve Benen 2:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (69)

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Comments

There is something deeply wrong with the GOP.

Posted by: Trinity on June 4, 2010 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

If Bush had ever gone into his library, he might have read about how waterboarding is actually torture.

Posted by: Joseph Nobles on June 4, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

This will backfire on the wingers. The Beatles were more popular than Jesus.

Posted by: CJColucci on June 4, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

It's going to get free press, and it continues the hippie/real american false narrative that has continued since the 1960s. Go read Nixonland, Steve.

Posted by: Rathskeller on June 4, 2010 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

As I said in a comment I posted on CNN, a SC Republican state senator called Obama a 'f------ Raghead'. Apparently since it is all ok since the guy said 'it was just a joke', then McCartney is fine since it was an obvious joke. Even if it was the truth.

Posted by: estamm on June 4, 2010 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's probably "a President who knows..."

I can understand why the Repugnants would go all nucular about this disgraceful grammatical error..

Posted by: neill on June 4, 2010 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Please, Let It Be! Paul McCartney is a master of his art and has earned every accolade he has ever received. That such a harmless, and accurate, representation of the disgraced former president is taken so seriously leaves me "almost" speechless. Perhaps a simple, I was only joking "apology" is in order./snark/

Posted by: st john on June 4, 2010 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

So the guys who have been calling the current President of the United States a communist, socialist, traitor, racist, elitist, corrupt politician, Israel-hater, secret Muslim, Death Panel creator and ineffective arugula-eater are upset because someone joked about the previous President being dumb?

Posted by: g on June 4, 2010 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the oldies radio stations will have to go all Dixie Chicks on his ass. That'll show him;>

Posted by: martin on June 4, 2010 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone with a brain larger than a walnut knows what a horrid and painful joke the Bush years were. Now that it's over, it's good to laugh with relief. Hooray for Paul for saying what too few Americans will go on record as believing: Bush was, and is, an absolute, unabashed, grade F moron.

Posted by: Limbaughs Diabetes on June 4, 2010 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Great!! Go nuts, Republicans! Smash all your Beatles albums, if you want. The Beatles ain't Freedom Fries, and it'll end up with you knee-deep in black vinyl fragments. You don't have the clout you had right after 9-11. Knock yourselves out.

Posted by: Mark on June 4, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

"Ringo is not yet properly recognized for his songwriting prowess"???????????

He's barely adequate as a drummer...

Posted by: J on June 4, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Burn his records! That'll derail his career -- hey, it worked so well the last time, didn't it?

Posted by: Steve M. on June 4, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Look they are burning Beatles' albums!

http://chainedandperfumed.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/beatles-burn1.jpg

Oh wait, that was the wingers in 1966.

Posted by: Napoleon on June 4, 2010 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't Bush just the other day publicly confess to authorizing waterboarding - and stating that "I would do it again."

The GOP should worry more about the fact that its former figurehead is now liable to be charged as a war criminal, and that he risks being arrested when traveling abroad.

Just sayin'

Posted by: SteinL on June 4, 2010 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

"No WMD over here. No. And no WMD over there."

Seriously, the nation should be committed to an asylum for having reelected that man ... maybe it is.

Posted by: SteinL on June 4, 2010 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Paul's remark stings because conservatives have a powerful coolness inferiority complex that they are constantly and awkwardly compensating for. A casual remark from a Beatle just brings all those painful high school memories flooding back.

Posted by: Jon on June 4, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

First of all, Paul McCartney, by far, has had the most accomplished post Beatle solo career. None equalled what they accomplished with the Beatles (only George Harrison's All Things Must Pass stands with with the Beatle's work), but at least Paul McCartney produced some pleasant pop music. John Lennon wasted his solo career on nonsense and Yoko's shrieking. Even a great album like Imagine was wrecked by the slimey How Do You Sleep. And like it or not, Sir Paul pretty much WAS the Beatles. He was the prime creative force and he held the band together longer than it would have lasted on its own.

My rant is over. Boehner is a dick.

Posted by: SaintZak on June 4, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Can you imagine what John Lennon would have said in the same situation?

Posted by: chrenson on June 4, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

On the August 24 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity aired video footage of musician and right-wing activist Ted Nugent at an August 21 concert calling Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) a "piece of shit" and referring to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) as a "worthless bitch." In the video clip, Nugent holds up what appear to be two assault rifles and says he told Obama "to suck on my machine gun" and says he told Clinton "you might want to ride one of these into the sunset." After airing the clip, Hannity referred to Nugent as a "friend and frequent guest on the program," and then compared Nugent's comments to recent statements by Obama, which Hannity again distorted by claiming Obama "accus[ed] our troops of killing civilians." Hannity then asked Democratic strategist Bob Beckel: "What's more offensive to you? Is it Barack Obama's statement about our troops or Ted Nugent?" Beckel responded by asking Hannity if he was "prepared to disavow this lowlife," to which Hannity responded: "No, I like Ted Nugent. He's a friend of mine." When Beckel said that Nugent "ought to never come on your show again, and if you have him on, you ought to be ashamed of yourself," Hannity responded: "Not at all. We have you on."
http://mediamatters.org/research/200708270006

Posted by: Mike S on June 4, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Burn his records! That'll derail his career -- hey, it worked so well the last time, didn't it?
Posted by: Steve M.

i understand if you play them backwards they say 'bush is dumb ... bush is dumb'

Posted by: mudwall jackson on June 4, 2010 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

OK, Love him or hate George Bush (and boy do I hate him) you have to at least appreciate that Laura Bush (a former librarian) started a charity to give books to libraries.

My wife volunteers for our public elementary school library and this was one of the grants she helped the school apply for.

http://www.laurabushfoundation.org/

Posted by: anonymous on June 4, 2010 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah. Bush married a librarian. The library is probably where W went with Laura to make out in the stacks.

Posted by: bakho on June 4, 2010 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

chrenson said "Can you imagine what John Lennon would have said in the same situation?"

This should give every one a feel for what he would have said. These are lyrics from his solo song "Just Give Me Some Truth":

"No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son-of-tricky dick is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me"

Posted by: Napoleon on June 4, 2010 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

SaintZak, we agree completely on Boehner.

As to John vs Paul: I'd much, much rather listen to John's greatest hits than Paul's, and I think people will be playing "Imagine" and "Happy Christmas/War is Over" long, long after "Ebony and Ivory" and "Knocking at the Door" have blissfully faded from memory.

Posted by: Jon on June 4, 2010 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

"apologize to the American people for his conduct."

Ummm...not to be obtuse...but shouldn't the Chimp-in-Chief be the one apologizing?

Posted by: chimp on June 4, 2010 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Those Republicans sure loves them their Bushie, don't they.

Posted by: Steve on June 4, 2010 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

There's something deeply wrong with this picture.-------> same as it ever was...

Posted by: lloydcarroll on June 4, 2010 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

McCartney had the most COMMERCIALLY SUCCESSFUL career. He's writing the same kind of pop songs he was writing 50 years ago:

"Everybody gonna dance tonight
Everybody gonna feel alright
Everybody gonna dance around tonight"

Come on...

Posted by: J on June 4, 2010 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

chrenson said "Can you imagine what John Lennon would have said in the same situation?"

This should give every one a feel for what he would have said. These are lyrics from his solo song "Just Give Me Some Truth":

"No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son-of-tricky dick is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me"

Posted by: Napoleon on June 4, 2010 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

@bahko said it! Of COURSE GWB knows what a library is. What all those things on the shelves are, though...

Posted by: ajw93 on June 4, 2010 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

The repuplicans should cry themselves to sleep tonight. The poor little bitches got their panties in a bunch cuz Paul mcCartney made fun of one of their stupider members. WWWWWAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

Posted by: Patrick on June 4, 2010 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Yet, if I joke about having a bomb in my luggage, I will be immediately detained and probably subjected to intense interrogation. Bush can admit to authorizing water torture which led to many deaths, and walk freely. Is outrage in order?

Posted by: st john on June 4, 2010 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

I want an apology from Boehner for continually and willfully lying to the American public over and over again. Because YES I do hold the minority leader who wants to be SPEAKER to a higher standard. Then and ONLY then should anybody apologize for a lame ass remark.

Posted by: SYSPROG on June 4, 2010 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

"First of all, Paul McCartney, by far, has had the most accomplished post Beatle solo career"

As a musician, I guess you're probably right.

But as far as my kids are concerned, Ringo's
narration of Thomas the Tank Engine rates pretty
high. And he married Barbara Bach!

And George Harrison's work as a film producer with
Handmade Films revitalized the British film
industry and created some terrific movies. I'd
rate that a bigger cultural achievement than
McCartney's post-Beatles fluff.

And Lennon's "Imagine" is still pretty significant
(Rolling Stone ranked it the 3rd greatest song
of all time in 2004).

Anyway, getting back to the main point, I sure
hope we can turn the 2010 midterm elections into
a popularity contest between G.W.Bush and Paul
McCartney. That would be a landslide.

Posted by: Richard Cownie on June 4, 2010 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

"Can you imagine what Lennon would have said in the same situation?"

"Time wounds all heels."

Posted by: John Thullen on June 4, 2010 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Time wounds all heels."
Posted by: John Thullen

smileyface here.

Posted by: lloydcarroll on June 4, 2010 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

I can take a lot of crap from the Right, but when they starting messing with the Beatles or soccer it is time for me to summon the lightning!

Posted by: GiggsisGod on June 4, 2010 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah. Bush married a librarian.

Yep. Laura Bush worked as a librarian for - gosh - almost four years!!!! What a career.

Posted by: g on June 4, 2010 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Obviously here's what Sir Paul should have said:

"Thank you for this lovely award. I'd like to take this opportunity to remind all American children to remain abstinent until you're married, don't ever be gay, support the Republican Party, cut taxes, buy lots of guns, and demand to see Obama's birth certificate. And accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior like I did!"

Anything less is damned offensive.

Posted by: chrenson on June 4, 2010 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Typical modern Republican "strategy."

Focus on the stupid and minor to (hopefully) distract from the serious and important so no one notices that not only are you are doing NOTHING about the serious and important but that you don't have anything realistic, relevant, sane to say about the serious and important.

Posted by: ET on June 4, 2010 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

lulz. guys...

Please see the one tiny silver lining despite the oil-soaked hurricane cloud of the last eight years... 'Cos it relates to the joke that this post was about.

Posted by: anonymous on June 4, 2010 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

I'm puzzled.

I recall my mother getting a request from the GWB library committee to donate 50% of her comic collection to the cause.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on June 4, 2010 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

John Boehner's whining about Sir Paul McCartney's wisecrack about Dumbya Bush only underscores again how INCREDIBLY THIN-SKINNED rightwingers really are -- they sure know how to dish it out, BUT THEY SIMPLY CAN'T TAKE IT!

Posted by: Rich S. on June 4, 2010 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Silly Repubs, fighting over the 1960s once again and condeming 50 year-old music. They really have become total tools but think they "pretty fly" for a bunch of white guys.

Next thing you know these guys will be condemning the 1964 civil rights act, trying to prove Obama wsd born outside the US, and enforcing immigration laws on a state level.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on June 4, 2010 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

The irony is, didn't Dubya read a lot of books while he was in office? I mean, a lot of books? Hey! Look at me - I'm defending Dubya!

(Oh and Paul was def. the greatest Beatle, Band on the Run was awesome and Wonderful Christmas Time beats Happy Christmas - so there!)

Posted by: Marko on June 4, 2010 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

completely perfect post - nothing more needs be said. Bravo.

Posted by: pandera on June 4, 2010 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Reply to SteinL's 3:20 PM post: Yes indeed. I STILL vividly remember that STOMACH TURNING, VOMIT INDUCING comedy schtick "Bubble Boy" Dumbya Bush did about the missing WMDs -- remember all his FILTHY STINKING RICH rightwing pals in the audience yukking it up? You can bet the house that NOT A SINGLE DAMN ONE OF THEM ever put their privileged a*s on the line for this country in a combat zone or has a loved one currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Posted by: Rich S. on June 4, 2010 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Rich S. hits the nail on the head.

We need this to become the reponse every single time they act offended. Republicans are the "we can dish it out but we can't take it" party.

Posted by: tanstaafl on June 4, 2010 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

You know who owes America an apology -- a BIG apology?

George Bush and John Boehner.

Posted by: The Fool on June 4, 2010 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Good on Paul for dissing the Dumbya, but the greatest Beatle? Surely you jest. 3 Beatles songs are among the 10 or 20 greatest rock songs ever recorded - Revolution (the album version, not the single release that Paul bastardized!), A Day In the Life and I am the Walrus.

Who wrote those? Oh yeah, John did*.


{OK, OK, technically, Paul contributed the middle section of A Day In the Life, the lyric that starts: "I woke up/Got out of bed/Dragged a comb across my head".}

Posted by: Stetson Kennedy on June 4, 2010 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Three words - "perpetual", "outrage", and "machine."

And yeah, the people who bring up the book Nixonland are dead on. If you keep the rubes continually enraged about cultural slights and tribal insults, you can then harness their energy to your political program (and keep them distracted while you utterly, totally screw them over).

Posted by: Bokonon on June 4, 2010 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

SaintZak, i suppose to each their own, but I recently got the Lennon box set that comprises all of his post Beatles career, and it is outstanding. The range of style and depth of material is eye opening. I like a lot of McCartney's stuff too, but it's really not close. You are also overstating Paul's role in the Beatles, but we can agree that Boehner is a dick.

Posted by: furousd on June 4, 2010 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

"A fair amount of outrage in some conservative circles"?

Paul McCartney is one of the wealthiest and most respected musicians out there and he couldn't manage a little bit of class and less boor-ishness during his visit to our White House? And Bush's 'admission' of water-boarding ( he wasn't on trial) was hardly bragging. He was straightforward in his response, that's all. I don't need an apology from Paul McCartney. he isn't even a citizen of this country. However he would do well to remember a lot of Americans who don't agree with him politically made him a very wealthy man and for him to pull a Wanda Sykes was pretty telling of the complete lack of character he has. He can stay in England in rich retired seclusion for all I care. Douche.

Posted by: Red on June 4, 2010 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

I'll take McCartney (and Springsteen et al) over Nugent any day.

Posted by: EastFallowfield on June 4, 2010 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

from the National Review-lined piece:
'I mean, Paul McCartney’s like the richest, most popular, most honored musician in the world. Does he not have it in him to behave like a gentleman — or at least a non-boor — while he’s being celebrated at the White House? '

vs poster 'Red':

'Paul McCartney is one of the wealthiest and most respected musicians out there and he couldn't manage a little bit of class and less boor-ishness during his visit to our White House?'

Sorry, I just found this fascinating. Really, I wonder about the process...

Posted by: shroup on June 4, 2010 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Plus, there's the same inexplicable (to me) allusion to Wynda Sykes.

Mr. Nordlinger? No, that couldn't be. Why would one paraphrase themselves?

Posted by: shroup on June 4, 2010 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

"However he would do well to remember a lot of Americans who don't agree with him politically made him a very wealthy man"

Yeah, I'm sure he owes a huge amount of his wealth to the party that yanked the Beach Boys from the DC 4th of July celebration because they were too naughty, and substituted Wayne Newton. I bet he's terrified of the notion that George Bush fans are going to stop buying his records.

Tell you what: we'll take Paul, you take water-boarding George, and we'll each take our own opinions on who's a douche with no class.

Posted by: Jon on June 4, 2010 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

J is an idiot. Ringo is an excellent drummer. He is not a show-off, but a classic minimalist, and is admired by drummers worldwide. He was hired by the Beatles because he was good.

Posted by: Frank C. on June 4, 2010 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

"the party that yanked the Beach Boys from the DC 4th of July celebration because they were too naughty..." - Jon

Ah yes, you're referring to Ronald Reagan's douchebag of a Secretary of the Interior - James Watt - who thought the Beach Boys attracted "the wrong element" to the DC area. That was the day I stopped being a Reagan fan.

I was so despondent because we always went to the 4th of July Beach Boys concert - it had become a local tradition. And Wayne Newton? Ugh! My best friend begged me to go because he had family in from out of town and all. So, reluctantly, I went. There was not as big of a crowd, and as the concert time drew near, storm clouds started gathering (I was like, yes! rain!).

When the "warm-up" band started (the U.S. Marine Band), it started to rain. As they finished up, it started raining really hard and all the people were leaving. Except us. We huddled with no rain gear, waiting for the storm to pass. Then it really, really started coming down in buckets with thunder and lightning and they were announcing on the stage that the Wayne Newton show was canceled. We were all soaked to the bone, cold and miserable but I had a secret smile on my face as we headed back to the Metro.

Posted by: Marko on June 4, 2010 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives need to lighten up and get a sense of humor.

Posted by: Johnny on June 4, 2010 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

How humiliating to be defended by John Boehner. Even W must be laughing at him.

Posted by: puravida on June 4, 2010 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Boner is such a moron. Why should McCartney apolgize to America for W's conduct?

Posted by: ComradeAnon on June 4, 2010 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

With apologies to the anonymous poster from whom I shamelessly stole this and modified slightly:

Dear Mr. Boehner, you ignorant tool, you:

"Picture yourself on a boat on a river,
With tangerine skin and malamute eyes
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly,
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes."

Luv, Paul.

Posted by: Hemmingplay on June 4, 2010 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

Please, Republicans, don't let it go. I'm begging you.

Posted by: beejeez on June 4, 2010 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

"House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), the man who intends to be Speaker of the House this time next year, went so far as to issue a public statement, calling on Paul McCartney to "apologize to the American people for his conduct."

And my message to Rep Boehner. Please go fuck yourself. You are some kind of extraordinary asshole.

Posted by: jharp on June 5, 2010 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

"Can you imagine what John Lennon would have said in the same situation?
Posted by: chrenson on June 4, 2010 at 3:21 PM"

Yes, and John Lennon would have been very vocal during the Bush/Cheney years, and probably ended up being put on the No Fly List like Cat Stevens was.

But I can't wait until next week when The Daily Show (and Jon Stewart, probably with a John Oliver segment) as well as Stephen Colbert add their own inestimable contribution, plus what MSNBC's own "Fab Four" (Ed, Chris, Keith and Rachel) have to say.

Republicans have become ONE BIG JOKE. A dangerous joke, yes, but still ONE BIG JOKE.

Posted by: The Oracle on June 5, 2010 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

I Love Paul McCartney. Now more than ever.
Go Paul!

Posted by: Lisa Harrigan on June 5, 2010 at 3:18 AM | PERMALINK

As long as we have the unhappy experience of remembering Dubya, here's a video of him happily screwing the planet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIl2BdiGsSA

Posted by: Stache on June 5, 2010 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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