Only Republican presidential candidate and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain could drive the Left out of its gourd by doing nothing more than singing a 93-year-old American anthem. His campaign has released a 9/11 tribute video, featuring Cain himself singing “God Bless America” — originally written by Irving Berlin in 1918 — over a compilation of unforgettable images that the day’s tragedy seared into our collective memory. Cain, whom the New York Times has credited with “a pretty good singing voice,” allegedly recorded the song in one take.
It is exactly the sort of innocuous tribute any pol from state solicitor to presidential hopeful might churn out. But judging from the Left’s response, you’d think he had cut his own version of “John Walker’s Blues.”
The campaign’s press release states, “Although we shall never forget the loss of precious life on that Tuesday morning, terrorists did not and will never win, for the spirit of America — the triumphant spirit that has sustained us for more than two centuries — was reaffirmed, even in our darkest hour.” Cain concludes, “In honor of the fallen and those who continue to sacrifice for our sake, may we be ever mindful of the goodness of our people, our resiliency through trials and God’s continued grace upon this land.”
The Left, which long ago lost the ability to hear itself, knows better. David Badash of The New Civil Rights Movement emoted, “that he would sing, ‘God Bless America,’ with images of one of our nation’s most-tragic events, is beyond the pale.” In fact, “If you are not offended by this ad, you should get down on your hands and knees and search for your humanity because obviously it got lost somewhere.” He then dubbed it the “most offensive use of 9/11 ever.” Others have piled on, as well. Alex Pareene at Salon.com brands the tribute a “monstrosity” and Cain a “crass exploiter of tragedies for political gain.”
Why the off-the-charts hysteria? Badash lies, “In Cain’s ad, Cain positions himself as a savior, who presumably was there on 9/11 to pick up the pieces and mend America.” But the video presents little evidence for Badash’s allegations. Philip Bump of Mediaite, who takes Cain to task for the video, writes that it could as easily be seen as “a perfectly fine expression of a man’s feelings about an American tragedy.”
But not all musical tributes are created equal. The Huffington Post showers praise upon a song Joe Scarborough reportedly wrote and sang as a tribute to 9/11. The MSNBC host’s “Reason to Believe” is, alas, not the Rod Stewart classic but a quasi-bluegrass number lacking Stewart’s soul, Cain’s guilelessness, or Bill Monroe’s honesty. Scarborough’s ditty is told from the perspective of a 9/11 widow who is still trapped in a “nightmare” 10 years later, because her son is fighting “an endless war.” Somehow, Cain’s invocation of God’s blessing upon the American people merits contempt but Scarborough’s marriage of the 9/11 tragedy and his opposition to the war in Afghanistan constitutes a poetic and cultural breakthrough.