The committee is aptly called, “Whip It Good.”
Naturally we reached out to Casale to see how he felt about his famous hit being used as a Republican fundraising tool. We told Casale that Scalise (R-La.) has even played the song on occasion at events since becoming House whip.
He seemed almost amused, but also not pleased.
“I think there’s a history of Republicans with a right wing M.O. appropriating things from pop culture to try and look hip,” he said. “I love that they completely [botch] the original meaning,” such as when Ronald Reagan played Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” and called it a “message of hope” when really it’s a song about Vietnam War veterans in despair. Springsteen asked Reagan to stop using it.
Casale asked me if I thought he could ask Scalise to stop playing his song. “I should take a page from Bruce Springsteen’s book and stop this,” he said. “I would if I could.”
He said he’d even come up with a more appropriate ’80s song to be Scalise’s anthem. He suggested maybe something by Whitesnake. (We’re thinking, “Here I go again on my own…”?)
If this all sounds harsh, Casale is not one to go easy on politicians. You may recall in 2012 he wrote a song: “Don’t Roof Rack Me, Bro” — an ode to the pet dog that Mitt Romney infamously strapped in a carrier on his car’s roof for a 12-hour drive.
Scalise, as it turns out, is a big Devo fan and even saw the group in concert in the early ’80s at the Saenger Theater in New Orleans. Is he sad that the affection isn’t reciprocated? “I think he would still have an affinity for Devo and its music,” said Scalise spokesman Thomas Tatum.
While we had Casale on the phone we asked about the “Whip It” true meaning. He insists it was an ode to Thomas Pynchon’s 1973 novel “Gravity’s Rainbow,” but when radio DJs assumed it was about masturbation or sadomasochism, the band just let them think it.
“I’m just guessing,” he said, but “I think [Scalise and his tea party friends] went for the S&M angle” because “they like to inflict pain on the masses with their politics.”
We asked Tatum what Scalise thinks the song means. After a very long pause, he said, “To Mr. Scalise, it’s about making sure we get 218.”
(That would be the number of votes needed to pass legislation in the House. Which, judging by the last few months, it’s not so easy to crack that whip.)
Now, for your viewing pleasure: