STOP BEING PETTY, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. LET REPUBLICANS PLAY YOUR MUSIC — “Liberal rock stars shouldn’t allow politics to polarize our music, too,” says…The New Republic(!) — though note this:
No neophyte in the political realm, Springsteen was the first and most famous celebrity scold, rejecting Ronald Reagan and George Will’s extremely tone-deaf attempt to conscript “Born in the U.S.A.” as a mindless hymn of blue-collar patriotism. That episode was probably the only time one of these dustups needed to happen, and the last time it was handled well, since Reagan’s endorsing “Born in the U.S.A.”—a painstaking inventory of the rage and sorrow festering beneath his “Morning in America” platitudes—was like George III whistling Yankee Doodle.
While TNR will never admit it, as Daniel Scotto of the Federalist perceptively wrote earlier this year, “‘Born In the USA’ Now Fits The Conservative Message.” And he’s right — the song is Springsteen’s attack on the Vietnam War, a thoroughly “liberal idea,” as David Gelernter has written, “especially the militarily disastrous first phase, before Abrams replaced Westmoreland in command and Nixon replaced Johnson as president,” the bureaucratic nightmare of the V.A., and the refinery where Springsteen’s protagonist can’t find employment likely due to environmentalist pressures.
“Born in the USA” is an explicit indictment of Great Society overreach; but as Jonah Goldberg wrote in Liberal Fascism, “In the liberal telling of America’s story, there are only two perpetrators of official misdeeds: conservatives and ‘America’ writ large…. Liberals are never responsible for historic misdeeds, because they feel no compulsion to defend the inherent goodness of America. Conservatives, meanwhile, not only take the blame for events not of their own making that they often worked the most assiduously against, but find themselves defending liberal misdeeds in order to defend America herself.”
Of course, to return to TNR’s thesis, perhaps the real reason why Springsteen has shown such disdain first towards Reagan, and more recently Chris Christie and Rick Perry may not only be partisan – the 65 year old multimillionaire vegetarian limousine leftist engaging in cosplay as a 20-something leather jacket-clad grease-monkey may simply be dismissing them as “not our class, dear.”