Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

On the Record on the road in the U S of A: Washington DC

Something tells me that Rick Santorum is not a huge fan of Big Star’s legendary frontman Alex Chilton or hip-hop trailblazer DJ Kool Herc. Call it a hunch. While we don’t know for sure what the wannabe president listens to …

Fri, Mar 30, 2012, 09:34


Something tells me that Rick Santorum is not a huge fan of Big Star’s legendary frontman Alex Chilton or hip-hop trailblazer DJ Kool Herc. Call it a hunch. While we don’t know for sure what the wannabe president listens to for musical kicks, he strikes you as someone who plays it safe with what he puts on his digital music player. Probably not even a “Moves Like Jagger” kind of guy, a song which seemed to be playing in every bar in Washington this week.

Thoughts of Chilton and Herc come to mind when Santorum was spotted on the steps of the US Supreme Court last Monday. It’s the perfect place for Santorum to be seen campaigning, as the court’s nine wise judges gather to hear legal arguments about the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s health care reform.

Santorum is here to demonstrate his opposition to the bill and to also point out that rival and Republican race-leader Mitt Romney has considerable skin in the game through his support for government-run health care when he was governor of Massachusetts.

The Republican was not the only one enjoying a fine day out in Washington, with supporters and opponents of the bill competing for the attention of the many microphones and cameras in attendance. Both sides have much in common when it comes to a frenzied reaction to the issue. Apart from the slogans on the placards, both Tea Party fans and liberal proponents are in shrill high dudgeon about what’s going on inside the courthouse.

Health care was always going to be a hot button issue in an election year, with vested interests viewing the debate as one to hijack and manipulate. But it’s mostly about the macro and not the micro, which is where those two musicians mentioned above come into the picture.

When Chilton died in 2010 in New Orleans, he was uninsured and, as a result, didn’t go looking for medical attention when he got sick. Likewise, it was reported that DJ Kool Herc, the man who invented hip-hop’s musical backbone at a series of parties hosted by his little sister in the south Bronx in the late 1970s, was unable to afford hospital treatment due to a lack of health insurance when he became seriously ill. They’re just two of millions of stories about health care and insurance which don’t quite get much space in the current narrative.

In Washington, it’s the political not the personal which produces the most noise. A hell of a town for political junkies, it’s a place powered by the ceaseless buzz and energy of deals and lobbying. If you have business to do and you’ve the money to pay a fancy K Street firm to do the wheeling and dealing on your behalf, you’ve come to the right place. Just make sure you’ve the right uniform on your back – a smart business suit with a stars’n’stripes pin on the lapel seems to be the attire of choice – and away you go.

Politics puts on a good show in DC because the background is perfect for it. From Capitol Hill down the sweeping mall of monuments and museums to the White House, it’s a stage set for dramas and grandstanding.

No wonder Aaron Sorkin’s West Wing remains such a timeless TV hit. You could easily imagine a rerun about the current administration. It could even feature Josh Lynam, Toby Ziegler and co using the fantastic Washington bike-share scheme to get to and from meetings. And when it comes to the revamped soundtrack? Well, there’s always “Moves Like Jagger”.

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