Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Credibility Gap

Right from the start, I'm going to tell you a little secret. I hate our national anthem. I think it's a terrible song encompassing a vocal range too wide for most people to sing, with trite war-based lyrics that no one remembers, written about a battle we know nothing about. And I particularly hate having to endure forced patriotism just because I want to watch a baseball game.

Now that that's out of the way, the other day Bush insisted this is America, dagnabit. We should sing our national anthem in American. The funny thing about this is that I sort of agree with him. Not because I give two shits about the "sanctity of the Star-Spangled Banner", but because I believe in the sanctity of the written lyric. You don't translate Cosi fan tutte into English because most Americans don't speak Italian, just as Mick Jagger didn't translate Start Me Up into Mandarin when the Stones played China a few weeks back. I'm a musical fundamentalist, perhaps. Although because I also don't care what happens to the national anthem, I couldn't care less if someone wanted to sing it with the lyrics all changed into fart jokes or twist it into some sort of bizarre sarcastic performance piece. My solution for our Spanish speaking brothers and sisters out there? Just don't sing the fucking thing. Spend your time doing something worthwhile.

But because I enjoy pointing out Bush's hypocrisy, it bears mentioning that the United States State Department actually already has a number of foreign language versions of the song on its website. (Or so the newspapers say, I can't find anything on that goddamned site.)

And most interesting of all, I have it from a reliable source (The Al Franken Show) that Bush actually had the anthem sung in Spanish at certain events during his 2000 presidential campaign. I can't find anything about it online, so take that as such. But it seems about right, right? If that's a good enough standard for cable news, it's good enough for me.

So the question:

  • Bush is pandering now.
  • Bush was pandering then.
  • Both.
  • Neither - history is merely a lie agreed upon.
You decide.

UPDATE: Atrios has the goods on W's penchant for singing the national anthem in Spanish.

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