Soundtracking the Resistance - Embracing the Bear

Trump, Russia, Comey, and Stevie Wonder

May 19, 2017 Bookmark and Share


What a time to be alive. The leader of the often self-proclaimed free world seems ambivalent at best about the values that are supposed to underpin a free world, and old foes are apparently old foes to everyone apart from that same leader who's in charge of opposing them.

Where once a president (not exactly a darling of the liberal left himself) told Mr. Gorbachev to "tear down this wall," now the guy in the White House wants to build one. But once again, most of his crazy schemes have shrunk into the background in the last week as President Trump launched into another sequence of scandals.

Really, he should have known better than to fire the head of the FBI James Comey. If you have something to hideand even if he doesn't, Trump is doing a good job at behaving like he doesyou don't want to antagonize the agency that gave us the infamous Deep Throat in the Nixon era.

So, we have the FBI director fired for investigating Trump's Russia ties, despite a half-hearted attempt to first claim he was fired for the way he handled Hillary Clinton's emails (something Trump cheered at the time), and then we have the president immediately meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister.

And yes, that went wrong because it looks like he's revealed classified intelligence information to a country the American intelligence community seems pretty certain intervened in the U.S. election. Whether he even realized what he was doing is sadly a question without definitive answer. Somewhere in the middle of all this, Henry Kissinger appeared as well, which is too weird to think about right now.

But halt, that's not enough. Now Comey's notes appear to suggest Trump tried to get him to drop his probe into disgraced ex-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn's ties to Russia. Politics thrives off scandals, yet they come with such regularity now it's hard to tell if anyone pays much attention. What would have sunk the career of any other politician seems to be part of the weekly routine for a man high on self-confidence and low on governing competence.

Maybe it will still sink him. A special counsel (respected former F.B.I. director Robert Mueller) has just been appointed to keep the crazy past week and a half going. What this means for everyone involved is impossible to tell, apart from for headline writers who are experiencing something of a gold rush.

It's a far cry from pretty much the entirety of the second half of the 20th century when the Communist state Russia that lay at the heart of the USSR stood as the main villain opposing America. Nena's classic anti-war song "99 Luftballons" came out from this Cold War nightmare, the tip of a giant iceberg of music provoked by U.S.-Soviet relations.

Blondie, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson and Prince; they've all sung about the Soviet Union and the Cold War. There are those who still like a good song about the world of international espionage Russia seems to thrive in as well. The Decemberists did it back in 2005 with "The Bagman's Gambit."

It will take a while for the current generation of musicians to make sense of just what the hell Trump is up to with America's old adversary, but some are already trying. The ever-reliable Father John Misty (no one gives wry commentary quite like Josh Tillman) has already been having fun with a short song on the firing of Comey.

Expect this to be the kind of thing referenced for some time to come. The important question is will it have any impact on Trump's presidency. It's hard to believe it won't, but at the same time he lives in a state of perpetual crisis, and every scandal up to this point has been forgotten the moment the next one comes along. Only time will tell, but here's hoping.

Song of the Week: Stevie Wonder - "You Haven't Done Nothin'

There's been a distinct Nixonian whiff to Trump's FBI shenanigans of late (and who didn't love the Nixon Presidential Library getting in on the act on Twitter by pointing out even Tricky Dicky didn't fire the head of the FBI) so it's only fitting to return to protests from times gone by.

Back in 1974 Stevie Wonder was so incensed with the crook in the White House, he cut the funky and razor sharp "You Haven't Done Nothin'." The opening line sounds awfully like another President we know as Wonder sings, "We are amazed but not amused/By all the things you say you'll do." It's all too familiar which is probably why an unofficial Trump remix appeared last year.

Stevie Wonder studio version:

Stevie Wonder live version:

Trump remix version:

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