It ain’t easy being POTUS (President of the United States). Korans burned in Afghanistan, “liberated” Libya run by militias, Syria descending into civil war, the never-ending Iran psychodrama. How to find some solace? Simple; if POTUS can’t sneak into the House of Blues – the Secret Service won’t let him – the blues comes to the (White) House.
In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues, was an in-house concert at the East Room praising the blues and Black History Month in the US, part of a music series hosted by POTUS (Barack Obama) and FLOTUS (First Lady Michelle Obama). It will air on PBS on Monday.
And then came the magic moment; ersatz bluesman Mick Jagger hands the mic to POTUS – and the rest is history (see the video ). There was the Al Green precedent (see the remixed video ) when POTUS sent a not so subtle campaign message coded as Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”
But this was the real deal; POTUS summoning the spirit of Robert Johnson via “Sweet Home Chicago.” And what a supporting cast, including the “King of the Blues” himself, B B, 86, introduced by POTUS; Mick Jagger (still delivering the goods on “Can’t Turn You Loose”; Buddy Guy; Jeff Beck; and Stax living legend Booker T Jones – who should have been canonized by now – as band leader and musical director. Talk about a home run for the singer-in-chief.
POTUS even issued an official declaration praising the blues; it “teaches us that when we find ourselves at a crossroads, we don’t shy away from our problems. We own them. We face up to them. We deal with them. We sing about them. We turn them into art.” 
Nuke me baby all night long
Why shouldn’t a black man play with the blues at the White House? After all, the US economy is – slowly – starting to turn around (somewhat), even though that nagging song, “16 Trillion/What do you get?” (as in the national debt) can still be heard in the background.
Unemployment is – slowly – down. And the remaining Republican would-be presidential candidates slugging it out are either deranged or carping on that same “Jesus” motif; mullah (Rick) Santorum bills himself as the man who will save America from Satan.
The Tea Party lot are freaking out. Newt Gingrich, in desperation, calls POTUS “the most dangerous president” ever. Mitt Romney – in a presidential debate – says that Iran will give a nuclear bomb to Hezbollah in Lebanon; Hezbollah will bring it to Mexico; then the dirty bomb will be smuggled across the border as an illegal immigrant and explode in Ohio.
And worse of all; these people all suck, musically. They couldn’t sing the blues – or soul, or jazz, or gospel, even country – even if their (paranoid) lives depended on it.
Still, the singer-in-chief was not exactly singing the blues when he signed the National Defense Authorization Act late at night on New Year’s Eve – when no one was paying attention. The warrior-in-chief has in fact legalized the slipping of the US into a militarized police state – where the Pentagon may send Americans to jail without charge and without trial for the “duration of hostilities” in the never-say-die “global war on terror.”
Late next week, POTUS will not exactly sing the blues when he addresses the annual convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee – thousands of high rollers in a Washington ballroom clamoring in unison to destroy Iran.
But the day before seems straight out of Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound on My Trail”; that’s when POTUS has to meet with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, who every grain of sand in the Negev desert knows wants to get rid of POTUS and install his own warmongering puppet at the White House.
After all, Bibi even had the nerve to scold US Joints Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey because the Pentagon stalwart exercised some common sense, saying an Israeli attack on Iran would be “destabilizing” and “not prudent.”
POTUS would rather sing the blues than go to war; as for the average American, they seem to be puzzled, or anesthetized by too much ambient noise. According to the latest CNN/Gallup poll, almost 80% believe that Iran either has a nuclear weapon or will get one like, tomorrow; at the same time 63% prefer diplomacy to war in dissuading Iran from going nuclear. So what’s the story? To convince Iran to give up the non-existent bombs they might have?
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei may regard the blues as devil’s music – but at least he has once again stated on the record that Iran “does not seek a nuclear weapon.” At the same time, he encouraged Iranian nuclear scientists to proceed with their “fundamental” work for “Iran’s national interests.”
Amid all this madness, at least Mad Men is back in the Ides of March .
And while his opposition cavorts in the swamps of doom and gloom, POTUS – whom polls attest would defeat any of them – does seem to be singing the blues all the way to the comfort zone.
C’mon/baby don’t you wanna go/back to that same old place/Sweet Home White House.
- See here.
- See here.
- Here is a look back at Robert Johnson’s crossroads, only a few weeks before POTUS burst into the American political landscape like the Hoochie Koochie Man.
- See the teaser here.