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Can Obama Overcome his Big Pink Problem?

Barack Obama can’t even do an interview anymore without having to address one of his least-favorite subjects: the suspicion that beneath his calm demeanor and business-suited exterior, he is a fanatical Pink Floyd fan. The long-simmering suspicions boiled over last week at California’s Coachella Music Festival. Former Floyd leader Roger Waters arranged an unauthorized airdrop of Obama leaflets that missed its target, creating an unwelcome source of precipitation for golfing retirees. Then, during a performance of “Sheep,” from Pink Floyd’s Orwellian-themed Animals, Waters’ inflatable pig prop flew away, festooned with left-wing slogans (“Don’t be led to the slaughter”; “Impeach Bush”) and OBAMA written on the underside. The rabble-rousing Obama pig sailed over the Coachella Valley and crashed, winding up in a condition that its finder described as resembling “pulled pork.”

Hillary Clinton noted that “there is no clear evidence that Barack Obama is an America-hating Pink Floyd fanatic. As far as I know.” “But let me tell you,” she continued, “during my administration, we’ll have no time for laser light shows, ponderous guitar solos, vague anti-capitalist lyrics, and 23-minute songs about albatrosses. From day one, we’ll be rolling up our sleeves for the working people of America, pausing only for some Carly Simon, James Taylor and maybe a few aromatherapy candles.” Blushing as she adjusted her gun holster, she quickly added, “excuse me, I meant Toby Keith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and a few rounds of target practice.”

While Obama’s suspected Pink Floyd past has dogged him for months, many supporters hoped he had put the subject to rest two months ago with a rousing speech in Philadelphia that some historians hailed as one of the most important speeches ever on the role of psychedelic rock in Anglo-American life. Obama’s speech criticized Waters’ occasional “Us and Them” mentality, as well as his apparent belief that “we don’t need no education” because it might lead to some sort of “thought control.” Yet Obama refused to entirely disavow Waters, saying nothing to quell the rumors that Pink Floyd songs were played at Obama’s wedding, or that at least one of his children was conceived while “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” played on his stereo. “I could no more ‘disown’ Roger Waters,” he said in Philadelphia, “than I could disown my stoner aunt in Hawaii who liked to have a little herb with her Bob Marley albums.”

Roger Waters’ “Obama pig” takes flight

Following his Philadelphia speech, Obama hoped that Roger Waters would either fade in the background, or distance himself from his porcine outlook on American authority. But Coachella was a clear sign that Waters simply could not stay away from the trough. The timing could not have been worse for Obama, who had just rebounded with a series of smooth moves, including his stand against political pandering on the federal gas tax, and his total mastery of the brush-off move from Jay-Z’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.” This week, Obama announced that he had made his “final cut” with Roger Waters, and that his last Pink Floyd poster had been sold on Ebay.

What remains to be seen is whether Obama’s statements rejecting Waters’ wacky ways have come in time to salvage his campaign. Pundits have noted that due to a combination of circumstances this year—including a thriving American economy, peace in the Middle East, growing respect for the United States abroad, and record levels of confidence in American government—the November Presidential election can logically be expected to turn on hair-splitting distinctions about cultural symbols. The nuances of Obama’s handling of the Waters affair may prove decisive. While Hillary Clinton has admitted to experiencing some isolated Pink Floyd-themed moments far back in her past, she insists they haven’t happened since a long-ago party in the Arkansas governor’s mansion in which a tongue-in-cheek Bill had jokingly fired up (but not inhaled from) a bong and demonstrated how the sounds in Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album cue up all the key moments in “The Wizard of Oz.”

A key test of Obama’s resilience will come in the all-important June 1 primary in Puerto Rico. Asked for comment while shaking her bon-bon at a campaign rally, Hillary said, “I think my esteemed colleague from Illinois needs to recognize, as my compadres do, that there’s a time for ‘la vida loca’ and a time for hard work.” “If there’s one value that Americans cherish before all others, it’s authenticity,” she said, before putting on an enormous sombrero, grabbing the microphone, and belting out a William Hung-style rendition of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs.”

For the most part, John McCain has sat out the crossfire between Obama and Clinton on the Waters controversy. But after Coachella, he could hold his fire no longer. He observed that “music was different back in the days when we had sock-hop dances at the ROTC and held hands as Barry Sadler sang ‘The Ballad of the Green Berets’ and the Beach Boys sang the Regents’ ‘Bomb’, I mean ‘Barbara Ann’.” McCain noted that while he disagreed with his friend Reverend John Hagee that declining morality compelled God to bring on natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, “I’d have to say that enough is enough. Young American degenerates like Roger Waters are destroying all that makes America great.” When reminded that Waters is a 64-year old Englishman whose favorite drug today is probably Metamucil, McCain responded, “see, that just shows his basic lack of fiber.” “And by the way,” he added. “Which one’s Pink?”

The Obama “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” Mix (Music: Jay-Z)

From → Diatribes

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