Monday, June 20, 2011


So I'm reading Matt Bai's New York Times Magazine story on Jon Huntsman, which will be in next Sunday's paper but was posted today, and I see that for some reason he's concluded that the opposite of "insane rage" in his party is "authenticity":

...I asked Huntsman how he thought he was going to gain traction without sharing some of the anger that Republicans felt toward his old boss. "People are going to vote not on personalities -- they're going to vote on issues," Huntsman replied confidently....

Didn't he at some point have to get in tune with the emotions of his party's electorate? "I had one person who came up to me at an event in Florida," he replied, "and said, 'If you get into this, are you going to take it to the president, take him down and all this, eviscerate him?' And I said, 'Ma'am, you’ve just described a losing strategy for the next Republican.' You're either able to take a message to the heart and soul of the American people that they can connect with, or you're done.

"I think what's going to drive this election, really, are two things -- authenticity and the economy," Huntsman told me. "I think people have become so disillusioned by the professional nature of politics -- the organizations around politicians, the way that politicians approach problem-solving, the way in which they go about their daily business. There has been very little in the way of authenticity in politics in recent years."

I feel as if this is like the moment in rap music when gangsta began to triumph over everything else. Huntsman is like a rapper who isn't gangsta, doesn't want to be gangsta, and knows that some of the people making their name on gangsta don't want you to know that they have problems with "authenticity." The problem is, Huntsman is like M.C. Hammer -- a family-friendly rapper with mass-market dance moves and baggy pants -- and he's certain that, sooner or later, people are going to get tired of all the songs about gangbanging, and what they'll want instead is ... him and his G-rated rhymes and his dance moves and clown pants. Because that was popular before gangsta.

When it came to the music, what happened was that some of the gangsta rappers had their credentials challenged, though that never came close to discrediting the whole enterprise. Eventually the marketplace did start to seek out different forms of not-quite-safe-for-kiddies rap (a lot of it about sex), and things mutated ... but what never came back was M.C. Huntsman and those pants.

There was also the famous DJ in the 1950s who didn't like rock and roll and said wearily, when it was clear how popular it was, "Maybe next year it will be Hawaiian music." Um, no -- tastes changed as the years went by, but once they heard the guitars and the drums and the backbeat, young people really never went back, did they? Maybe now they have a little, with all this neo-Broadway Glee/American Idol dreck, but that took almost 60 years, didn't it?

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