Thursday, July 7, 2011

Roundhouse Roundup:To Sing an American Tune

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
July 7, 2011

Is this a case of clairvoyance or just a stupid coincidence?

About three months ago, in my political blog, I wrote about former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist having to make a humiliating public apology to singer/songwriter David Byrne for using the Talking Heads song "Road to Nowhere" in a political ad. Byrne sued and won, and Crist looked like a sad sack.

In the blog post, I quipped, "Wow, Tom Petty could mop up if he sued every politician who played 'I Won't Back Down' at a political rally. (Are you listening Bill Richardson and Tom Udall?)"

Udall used the Petty song as his entrance music in Albuquerque when he announced he was running for Senate back in 2007. Richardson used the same song the same way just about everywhere I saw him speak in Iowa and New Hampshire when he was running for president. They played "I Won't Back Down" when I saw Richardson speak in Manchester, N.H., the night before the New Hampshire primary. Just a couple of days before he, well, backed down.

And now Petty is threatening legal action against a politician using his song.

But not Udall or Richardson. And not over "I Won't Back Down." Petty is trying to get Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann to cease and desist using his song "An American Girl" at her rallies.

This tension between rockers and the candidates who try to co-opt their music goes back at least to 1984, when both Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale were trying to ride on Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." coattails.

It's not the first time a liberal rocker got upset over a song used by a conservative. In the '90s, Chrissie Hynde was upset because Rush Limbaugh used the instrumental from The Pretenders' "My City Was Gone" as his radio theme song. Limbaugh eventually agreed to pay an annual licensing fee for the song, which Hynde reportedly donates to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

As I've said before, I liked it better when politicians still considered rock 'n' roll to be evil.

More fun with polls: Gov. Susana Martinez has to be happy about the latest Public Policy Polling survey of New Mexico voters. It showed 52 percent approving of her job performance, with 37 percent of those polled disapproving.

PPP director Tom Jensen said, "Most of the Republicans elected governor in Obama states last November have quickly become very unpopular. Not so in the case of New Mexico's Susana Martinez."

Among the poll findings was that Martinez got high marks from about a third of the Democrats polled. Also, 49 percent of Hispanics approved of Martinez, with 41 percent disapproving.

According to the poll, Martinez would beat Democrat Diane Denish in a rematch by nine percentage points — a slightly larger margin than she had last November.

Diane Denish
In a case of bad timing, the poll results were released shortly after The New Mexican published an op-ed by Denish, in which she wrote, "I promised to stick around and fight for our families, and I intend to do so. Just how that will play out, perhaps in seeking another office or just participating in the public debate, is to be determined."

Denish endorses: On Wednesday, Denish was talking about another candidacy. Not her own, but that of Hector Balderas, the state auditor who is running for U.S. Senate.

"The Senate needs more leaders like Hector Balderas. Leaders who reject the premise that 'fiscal responsibility' and 'accountability' are Republican words," Denish said in a news release.

Balderas is running against U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich in the Democratic primary. A PPP poll released last week showed Heinrich ahead by nearly a 2-1 margin. Balderas' main handicap in that poll appeared to be lack of name recognition.


Here's "American Girl" by Tom Petty