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The Ghost of Narratives Past

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In the midst of discussing a classic ridiculous Clinton Derangement non-story — could Hillary Clinton possibly like the Beatles and the Stones? — Jamison Foser points us to this absolutely remarkable Jacob Wiesberg joint about the crucial issue of the iPods of political leaders from 2006. You will be shocked to know that — however cool if would be if someone would have pointed out that “Respect” is maybe the seventh-best song on I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You — the playlists of public officials consist of interchangeable bog-standard middlebrow airplay favorites.

Except, of course, that this trivia must somehow be slotted into existing political narratives. So Hillary Clinton’s playlist “suggests premeditation, if not actual poll-testing,” while “Radio Condi is a lot more fun than Radio Hillary” and — of course! — “Bush doesn’t worry about being politically correct or care what other people think of him.” (I mean, “My Sharona,” “Brown-Eyed Girl”… truly, the man was our Rebel-In-Chief.)

But wait — it gets much worse, or at least much more surreal. This being 2006, no such article could be written without reference to the conventional wisdom that losing the popular vote once in four elections had reduced the Democrats to a more-or-less permanent rump party. This may not seem terribly relevant to the article at hand, but:

[Pandora] can be a bit uncanny. One of its first recommendations on the Hillary station I created was “Girls Can’t Do What the Guys Do,” by Betty Wright, a feminist-minded ’70s soul artist. This was followed by Barbra Streisand’s rendition of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars,” a deeply unfortunate recording, but one somehow indicative of the present predicament of the Democratic Party.

If you have any idea how this could possibly be indicative of anything except that Pandora needs slightly better quality controls, please do not explain it to anyone.

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