WHAT WOULD ELVIS DO?

I think “What would Elvis do?” has become a handy substitute for “What would Jesus do?” the difference being Jesus (or at least his followers) left a well-defined set of instructions to guide our speculation, while Elvis was as obscure as any person can be who achieves enough fame to make wondering what they would do occur to anyone in the first place.

Over at Greil Marcus’ website, he just received the inevitable question “Would Elvis have voted for Trump?”

Marcus took it for granted that the question referred to Elvis Presley (perhaps Elvis Costello is not, per Steven Van Zandt, the “real” Elvis after all) and answered at length. You can read his answer under the May 29, 2017 mailbag at his site (link available on my blogroll at the right–sorry, I can’t link to individual questions inside the mailbag itself).

In summary, it’s the usual mishmash: The Elvis who died in 1977 “probably… would have” voted for Trump, but if he had lived another forty years he might have turned into a good person, unlike the millions who actually voted for Trump because he represents the kind of evil country they want to live in. I’ll just point out that Marcus does not address the key demographic of the 2016 election, the several million people–many of them concentrated in the industrial swing states which crumbled the Blue Wall and decided the election–who voted for Trump after voting for Obama twice.

Did they suddenly change their minds about which kind of country they wanted to live in? Did Obama simply fail to deliver the evil country they thought he had promised? Or was Trump seen as more likely than Hillary Clinton to maintain the country they wanted to live in when they voted for Obama?

I encourage you to read Marcus’ response, but, in short, he doesn’t say.

What I really want to do though is answer the question.

Would Elvis have voted for Trump?

I wonder why we only wonder who Elvis would have voted for? Does anybody (well, any white boy critic or wannabe) ask themselves whether Ray Charles or James Brown–both much further to the right on the public record than Elvis ever was–would have voted for Trump? If they don’t, why not? I’m sure it’s not because they don’t think Mr. Charles or Mr. Brown lacked moral or intellectual agency. I mean, that would be sorta racist wouldn’t it?

Comes to that, why don’t we wonder who the more-or-less still living “Johnny Rotten” would have voted for if he were an American? Is it because all the cool people might not like the answer? (Just an aside: Marcus was recently asked about this one as well and basically gave Lydon a pass–and not because Trump is as an inevitable part of Lydon’s legacy as he is a rejection of the real Elvis’.)

I don’t have the least clue who the real Elvis–who at least tacitly endorsed both Adlai Stevenson and George Wallace whilst he was living–would have voted for.

Neither do you. Neither does anyone.

I know what he did when it mattered. When it mattered he sang “If I Can Dream” into the teeth of the anti-Enlightenment forces, Left and Right, that were dismantling the Dream he had done as much as any man to make real. And he put more pure anger into it than anyone has ever conveyed on a record that reached the Top 40. (Listen again, with headphones and your eyes closed if you can. You’ll hear it, right there from the heart of ’68.) When it mattered, he did things like this.

There were reasons why James Brown, who, like many an ornery American liable to vote for Obama one time and Trump the next, preferred dying on his feet to living on his knees, wept over Elvis’ coffin. Seeing around the corner, where the Dream would shatter, and the post-Carter political class–yes, all of them–would crawl from the wreckage, was no doubt foremost among them.

THE RESISTANCE?

(Warning, possibilities of explicit language, hurt feelings, etc….Temporary no comfort zone)

Somebody must be joking.

First the Good Libs take to the streets over Trump banning Muslim refugees from coming here like they never did when Barry O. was killing and creating ’em. Now there’s a celeb-fueled Twitter meme going around begging me to buy a subscription to the Times or the Post so I can get my fake news from CIA-approved sources. I’m gettin’ a weird vibe:

Sorry, if you want my sympathy, you’ll need a time machine. Otherwise, I hope you’ll forgive me if I retain my trust issues about counting on you to “resist” when it actually matters.

From 1991, the first year of the present “war.”….Anything changed?

 

I WAS GOING TO GIVE IT A PASS…

And not dedicate a song to President Obama as he leaves the scene.

The reason I wasn’t going to dedicate a song to him is because, from Lyndon Johnson onward, only one song can ever be dedicated to a departing U.S. President, and I was inclined to be generous toward Obama because I remembered the night he was nominated at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

After that evening was over, I happened to catch a bit on PBS where Tavis Smiley convened Cornel West and Julianne Malveaux to comment on the significance of it all.

You would have thought the last dog died.

No group of liberals I saw this season were anywhere near as depressed by the election of Donald Trump as that blacker-than-thou trio was on the night the first African-American candidate to receive the nomination of a major American political party failed to surpass Martin Luther King.

I remember thinking: “If these are his friends. He is going to have one tough row to hoe.”

He has had one tough row to hoe.

So I really was going to leave it alone–just go ahead and start the new world, where I go back to writing about the music or movies that moved me this week today, instead of waiting until tomorrow.

Then, while I was watching some post-inaugural blather today, I heard Rachel Maddow, desperately clinging to the idea that Obama’s legacy will not be written in sand, reporting that Obama had fought Isis up to his very last day, ordering a bombing strike that killed sixty “fighters” on either Wednesday or Thursday (I lost track even as she was speaking) and another hundred either yesterday or today (ditto).

Not long after, I was flipping around to see who had the best pictures of the parade and caught Lou Dobbs repeating the one hundred figure.

When I looked it up online just now, it was eighty.

But I’m sticking with a hundred, because anything the Pentagon releases to both Rachel Maddow and Lou Dobbs must be the truth.

Hey, by another count I read online today (which seemed about right) our Overlords have launched fifty-seven attempts to overthrow somebody’s government since the end of WWII. They must have gotten good at body counts by now.

So I was still going to let it to.

Then I remembered how I learned about body counts back in the seventies.

It was from a Doonesbury cartoon–beyond my capacity to research at the moment–which went something like this:

Frame One:¬†Conclusion of successful firefight. Soldier (probably B.D. but don’t hold me to it) is standing next to nameless officer. Nameless officer is reporting to headquarters. He is asked to give a count of the enemy dead.

Frame Two: Officer: “What’s the date soldier?”

Frame Three: Soldier: “The fifteenth sir.”

Fame Four: Officer (speaks into field phone): “Fifteen enemy dead here.”

Of course, the memory hazes. Maybe it was seventeen for the seventeenth or eleven for the eleventh.

It wasn’t eighty or sixty or a hundred. We don’t have enough days in the month to rely on the old match-em-to-the-date routine anymore. Not when war is waged strictly by drone and stealth bomber.

That’s the world Barrack Obama found.¬†And that’s the one he leaves to the future.

Same old, same old after all and sometimes it just isn’t enough to say: “What could I do?”

So, in the end, like every departing president from 1968 to now, he earned this: