Do the campaigns send messages with the music that plays over the loudspeakers at rallies before and after the candidate speaks?
John F. Kerry likes Bruce Springsteen's "No Surrender," which seems to give populist grit to the Boston Brahmin. President Bush prefers George Strait's "Heartland" ("Sing a song about the heartland") even when he's in such un-heartland places as New Jersey.
But here at Progress Energy Park, Lee Greenwood is here, live, warming up the crowd for Bush. The music is good. But its message is mixed. Greenwood has delighted the crowd with his patriotic tune "God Bless the USA" ("I'm proud to be an American.") But what are the few thousand Bush supporters here to make about Greenwood performing "Touch and Go Crazy"? A prediction for the Florida election? Or, worse, "Hearts Are Made to Break" ("Oh it tears me up when you go all to pieces")?
The Bush campaign isn't leaving such questions to chance. As Bush arrives, Greenwood leaves the microphone and the Brooks and Dunn song, "Only in America" is piped in. The lyrics: very safe, except for those religious denominations that frown on dancing:
"Only in America!
"Where we dream as big as we want to
"We all get a chance
"Everybody gets to dance."
But wait! The music has switched to James Brown's "Living in America." Nice tune, but isn't this what Brown sang in Rocky IV before Apollo Creed is killed in the ring by Russian boxer Ivan Drago?
And, oh dear: As Bush and his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), take the stage, the music changed to "Rock & Roll, Part II" by British rocker Gary Glitter -- who was convicted in Britain for possessing hardcore child pornography.