Jewish World Review June 21, 2002 / 11 Tamuz, 5762
Robert L. Haught
Elvis and Ozzie!?
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- WASHINGTON In this week of wallowing in Watergate 30 years later, Richard Nixon lives again in all his infamy. The news media have had a field day conjuring up images of the past: "Deep Throat," "the plumbers," CREEP and the 18 1/2 minutes of erased tape.
But one memory of the Nixon years tops these in the minds of many Americans. It's the photo of the 37th president shaking hands with Elvis Presley. Of all the requests made each year to the National Archives, that item has been requested more than any other. It's more popular with the public than the Bill of Rights or even the Constitution.
The famous picture resulted from a visit by Presley to the White House on Dec. 21, 1970. The "King of Rock 'n Roll" had asked for the meeting to volunteer his services to the government. He wanted to be made a federal agent-at-large in the Bureau of Narcotics and Drugs.
Thirty-plus years after this incident, politicians and popular musical entertainers continue to be drawn together. If we thought Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley were an odd couple, how about George W. Bush and Ozzy Osbourne? That pairing has raised a lot of eyebrows.
Osbourne did get an endorsement from an unexpected source. Former vice president Dan Quayle, remembered for his attack on TV single-mother Murphy Brown, praised the MTV show about the dysfunctional Osbourne family. Of the potty-mouthed performer, Quayle said: "In a weird way, Ozzy is a great anti-drug promotion."
He and Elvis would have made a great team.
Absurd as it may sound, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, a straight arrow if there ever was one, recently teamed up with rock star Bono on what the Washington Post called "a seriously strange tour of African poverty." The lead singer of the Irish group U2 already had been to the White House to offer his advice on various international issues.
Bono, incidentally, is about to open his own Washington think tank. The Wall Street Journal observes in an editorial that it will be called DATA, an acronym for an agenda of "Debt, AIDS and Trade for Africa. "It all sounds so totally cool that we can't help wondering if we'll soon see such rival think- tankers as the Heritage Foundation's Ed Feulner or Cato's Ed Crane donning their own wraparound shades, the better to compete for a voice at the White House and on the Hill," the Journal commented.
The government-sanctioned glorification of pop musicians is universal. Scores of them participated in the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's 50 years on the throne, and just last weekend rock star Mick Jagger was awarded a knighthood. It's "Sir Mick" now.
Not every politician has gone ga-ga over musical celebrities. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, announced he was boycotting a Senate clean air subcommittee hearing earlier this month because Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys was on the witness list. "It's just a joke," he said. Richardson, 30, delivered a stinging response. "I am personally insulted," he said. "I have taken two flights over the coal fields in Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee, and I have seen firsthand the damage of mountaintop removal." Charter flights, may we assume?
If you, like this columnist, have been wondering why this mingling of politics and pop music, maybe the answer lies in a new scientific study. Researchers at Heidelberg University in Germany have found that musicians have bigger and more sensitive brains than people who do not play instruments.
Well, that explains a lot. How soon can we get some of them elected to
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04/30/02: Donkeys and elephants: Is it really art or is it politics?