20 April 2007

Bomb Bomb Iran

There is a lot of buzz on McCain's off-the-cuff "Bomb Iran" joke. The YouTube video is floating up the charts.

When I first spotted the header at Steve Clemons's The Washington Note blog early Thursday, I did not bother to read the actual post (the picture appeared sufficient)--I simply assumed that Steve or one of his guests was reusing a Carter-era parody song to mock a McCain policy statement. My reaction to the post turned out to be somewhat recursive. Scott Paul wrote,

When I first read it as an unrelated comment to my last post, I brushed it off as a joke.

It's no joke.

Speaking at a VFW meeting in South Carolina, McCain asked when the U.S. would "send an air mail message to Tehran. " McCain replied: "You know that old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran? Bomb bomb bomb, anyway..."

Ann Althouse adds,

Is he trying to be Reaganesque?

alluding to Reagan's "The bombing will begin in five minutes" joke.

McCain is undeterred.

"Please, I was talking to some of my old veterans friends," he told reporters. "My response is, Lighten up and get a life."

When reporters asked if the joke was insensitive, McCain said: "Insensitive to what? The Iranians?"

McCain does not have my vote, but he has my support here. Note how Paul missed the euphemism in the vet's "airmail message" prompt . It's the same kind of mail as the one Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) warns Jeffrey (Kyle MacLaclan) about in Blue Velvet when he threatens to send him a "love letter". McCain simply replies in kind--especially to the generation that grew up listening to the Beach Boys.

But the joke is far from new. There were several versions popping up during the Iran hostage crisis (Vince Vance and the Valiants was the best known version), and they persisted through the early 1980s. Some, like Vince's, had a definite Right Wing tinge, but not all.

However, there was no YouTube in the 1980s. In fact, there was barely an embryo of an internet. So, not surprisingly, few people remember the lines like "Went to a mosque, gonna throw some rocks. Tell the Ayatollah..."Gonna put you in a box!" " (from Vince's version), "A-rockin'-n'-a-rollin', Nuke'm 'till the'r glow'n'" or "Bomb Ira-a-an, just like Viet-Na-a-am!" (from other versions) that lurked around the college counter-culture music circuit. Beatnik coffee houses are not the internet and 45s are not CDs.

But no one seems to have bothered to check more recent archives either. Here's one version (Adam Kontras) that appeared almost exactly a year ago.
[Update NOTE: The clip will pop up in a new tab or window. It starts with a brief ad.]

No wonder that the site that distributes the Kontras clip came up with a humorous take:

John McCain Rips Off AtomFilms!!

It is unusual that the same song not only served for multiple parodies at different time periods, but that it spawned versions from both ends of the political spectrum (although the ones from the Left were distinctly more ironic). The fact that McCain tapped into the same channel shows that he still has a sense of humor and can still connect the dots. His critics, on the other hand, are getting stale. Meanwhile, the Corner is poll-watching...

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