Two degrees in bebop, a PhD in swing, he’s a master of rhythm, he’s a rock n roll king!
I declare Open Thread. Also, this, from the Harper’s magazine I picked up at the Providence train station:
A letter from Ronald Reagan to Michael Jackson, dated 1 February, 1984, five days after the singer’s hair was set afire by pyrotechnics during the filming of a Pepsi commercial…
I was pleased to learn that you were not seriously hurt in your recent accident. I know from experience that these things can happen on the set – no matter how much caution is exercised. All over America, millions of people look up to you as an example. Your deep faith in God and adherence to traditional values are an inspiration to all of us, especially young people searching fro something real to believe in. You’ve gained quite a number of fans along the road since “I Want You Back”, and Nancy and I are among them. Keep up the good work, Michael. We’re very happy for you.
I thought that was funny in and of itself, but then I discovered that not everybody in the Reagan White House was on board with writing letters to the king of pop. Charlie Savage highlights some correspondence from Chief Justice Roberts, then a 29 year old peon associate White House counsel arguing against such “obsequious” letters.
I hate to sound like one of Mr. Jackson’s records, constantly repeating the same refrain, but I recommend that we not approve this letter. Sometimes people need to be reminded of the obvious: whatever its status as a cultural phenomenon, the Jackson concert tour is a massive commercial undertaking. The tour will do quite well financially by coming to Washington, and there is no need for the President to applaud such enlightened self-interest. Frankly, I find the obsequious attitude of some members of the White House staff toward Mr. Jackson’s attendants, and the fawning posture they would have the President of the United States adopt, more than a little embarrassing.
It is also important to consider the precedent that would be set by such a letter. In today’s Post there were already reports that some youngsters were turning away from Mr. Jackson in favor of a newcomer who goes by the name “Prince,” and is apparently planning a Washington concert. Will he receive a Presidential letter? How will we decide which performers do and which do not?
Ah yes, those fickle youngsters! Roberts is basically arguing against letting Ronnie sign a ghostwritten letter to Jacko, by ghostwriting a letter for his boss to sign saying as much. And on and on. Your government in action! All the while Ollie North is busy running a drug-and-weapons-smuggling ring out of the basement. Good times!