Whatever your political persuasion, and whatever else Newt Gingrich might be, he’s the ill-tempered old man who tells other people to do as he says, not as he does. Which is pretty much the apotheosis of uncool. So it’s not really surprising the Grinch has been hit with a lawsuit by ’80s rockers Survivor, whose Rocky-famous “Eye of the Tiger” was used at a recent campaign event, and served a cease-and-desist letter by British band the Heavy, whose “How You Like Me Now” he also purloined.
Then again, these days it’s not really surprising when any prominent politician, but especially a Republican, happens to get hit with complaints about his taste in theme music. Foo Fighters, Heart, John Mellencamp, and ABBA all went after John McCain’s campaign for its use of their songs in 2008, with Jackson Browne going so far as to file a lawsuit. As tends to be the case with contemporary Republicans, it all goes back to Ronald Reagan, who kicked off three decades of cluelessness by using the staunchly liberal Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” back in 1984. Everyone from former President George W. Bush to Michele Bachmann has gotten in on the fun, while President Barack Obama drew a reprimand of his own from one-half of ’60s soul men Sam & Dave for his use of “Hold On, I’m Coming.”
As the liberal Center for American Progress points out, though, copyright law makes it pretty unclear whether anyone can actually prevent these politicians from playing the songs of their choice. So while it’s encouraging to see musicians use the opportunity to take a stand, it’s all getting about as tiresome as the prospect of another Republican debate at this point. It’s enough to make you appreciate previously Bush-endorsing, more recently moderate-sounding Kid Rock’s lack of loud comment on Mitt Romney’s laughable use of his “Born Free.”
Who should be righteously pissed off? The people who wrote “America, the Beautiful.” After speaking the lyrics, William Shatner-style, for months now, the Mittster finally tried to show his presidential merit last night by actually singing the thing — unfortunately, the Apollo Theater Sandman wasn’t there to yank him offstage. Romney will almost undoubtedly win today’s Florida GOP primary, in spite/because of his performance, and just as certainly, the weirdly obsessed New York Times columnist Gail Collins will write a column linking it to that time Mitt supposedly strapped his dog to the roof of his car.