In a bold move, Joe Scarborough kicked off the opening ceremonies for the 9/11 10th-anniversary memorial yesterday with the surprise release of his first ever country single, "Reason to Believe," accompanied by a tribute music video. It was a big step for MSNBC's token red.
After a six year term as a Republican Representative from Florida, Scarborough moved to MSNBC, where he eventually hosted the awful Morning Joe. It was there that the few people who watch Joe were allowed to witness the progression of his endearingly underdeveloped political identity much like one watches a baby elephant try to figure out what that thing is in the mirror.
We all smiled with paternal joy when he asked, in his adorable whine, “These leftist stooges for anti-American causes are always given a free pass. Isn't it time to make them stand up and be counted for their views?” This was in response to his guest's assertion that anti-war protestors in Hollywood were “committing sedition, or treason.” Joe's excited grin melted hearts as he cheered on the United States' invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, but by 2006 he lost his conviction that the wars could be won, despite their noble cause, and began speaking favor of withdrawal. They grow up so fast. I only hoped his new vanity project would be as cute as the time Starbucks started sponsoring his show.
On my first listen I was too caught up in the story told by the music video to notice much else. The song started with a cold open of a phone ringing and cut to a mother and her daughter receiving a call that her husband had been killed, presumably during the events of 9/11. Then there were a bunch of pictures of Ground Zero – some projected on pictures of America. The boy grew up and then there were pictures of the wars. War is bad. But then pictures of the troops coming home! And finally the powerful closing scene in which the now older son came home to embrace his mother (still the same age).
And then I had a strange and terrible thought. I played the song again and forced myself to listen. The lyrics were bad but the shrill Garage Band violin fills were worse. Then I got to the end:
- And still I cry
underneath September skies
ten years gone but my nightmare goes on.
In an endless war
tell me please how many more
have to die before my sweet boy comes home.
Oh man. Was Joe Scarborough trying to cash in on nationalism with an anti-war song? Did he actually create a fictional mother with a fictional son off fighting a war for which he himself advocated that real mothers' sons be sent to fight, all in order to boost his ego by piggy-backing on the greatest national tragedy in recent memory with his shitty celebrity vanity single?
According to Paul Needham of the Huffington Post, not only is "Reason to Believe" an antiwar song, but a “powerful antiwar song” with “searing lyrics” from “one of the most vocal critics of America's wars.” Is that a goddamn joke, Paul Needham? Did you and Token Joe both forget that the anti-war music field is highly competitive? Every angsty sixteen year-old with a guitar is writing songs about blood on the hands of people in suits – you can't just throw some American flags on your hat, bitch about Bush, and then sing about how hard it is for America to be so awesome but also at war. There are standards: this isn't the Tea Party. This isn't even your crowd – you don't see Juan Williams releasing a pro-war rockabilly anthem on Fox.