---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 2002 13:01:40 -0800
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Gotta Serve Somebody
Gotta Serve Somebody
November 24, 2002
By ERIC EFFRON
SOME Bob Dylan aficionados still haven't gotten over their folk hero's electric
turn back in 1965. But for others, the age of Dylan innocence ended in 1976,
when Jimmy Carter, perhaps trying to signal the ascension of a new generation,
quoted ^× misquoted actually ^× from Mr. Dylan's "It's Alright Ma" in his speech
accepting the Democratic nomination for president. Since then, many politicians
have been as comfortable wrapping themselves in Mr. Dylan as they have been
wrapping themselves in God.
For Mr. Dylan, at least, the warm feelings have never been mutual. When he
mentions politicians in his songs, they tend to be hypocrites ("Only a Pawn in
Their Game") or crooked ("You Gotta Serve Somebody") or drunk ("I Want You").
Still, there's something about Mr. Dylan's poetry ^× the baffling ambiguities
perhaps, or simply the sheer volume of it ^× that some politicians find
irresistible, whether they're talking about free trade or Supreme Court
nominees. Most recently, Al Gore, in an interview with The New York Times last
week, was moved not only to quote Mr. Dylan's words, as he has done many times,
but to sing them. Mr. Gore's memory of the lyrics was accurate, which is more
than you can say about many of the citations below.
My vision of this nation and its future has been deepened and matured
19 months that I campaigned among you for president. I've never had more faith
in America than I do today. We have an America that in Bob Dylan's phrase is
"busy being born, not busy dying." ("It's Alright Ma") Jimmy Carter, in his
acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in 1976.
A Railroad Dispute
I am not a lawyer. But as in Bob Dylan's song line, "You don't have to be a
weatherman to tell which way the wind blows," similarly in this case, one does
not need to be a lawyer to tell which way the political wind was blowing at the
presidentially appointed Special Board. It certainly was not blowing on behalf
of the railroad workers. ("Subterranean Homesick Blues") --Senator J. James
Exon, Democrat of Nebraska, addressing the Senate in 1991 about the terms of a
railroad strike settlement.
Clarence Thomas Nomination
She's not an October surprise. The times they are a'changin' and the boys here
don't get it on this issue. They don't really understand what sexual harassment
is, and it's not important to them. ("The Times They Are A'Changin' ")
Representative Patricia Schroeder, Democrat of Colorado, in October 1991,
referring to the Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas's alleged harassment of
I've been thinking lately . . . of a song that was the anthem of a generation
when I was in college back a ways, Bob Dylan's old song, which had the line:
"Come senators and congressmen, please hear the call; don't stand in the
doorway, don't block up the hall." I think we all know that the times are
a'changin' and that it's critically important that we not stand in the doorway.
("The Times They Are A'Changin' ") Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of
Connecticut, speaking on the Senate floor in June 1992 during a debate on urban
renewal after the Los Angeles riots.
North American Free Trade Agreement
We have heard a lot of economists quoted on the floor today. I would like to
quote another counselor. His name was Bob Dylan. He wrote 30 years ago, "You
better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone." Our economic times are
changing. Our future is in global competition. ("The Times They Are A'Changin'
") --Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, in November 1993
explaining his support for the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Three cheers for the White House, who has finally slapped Japan with a big-time
100 percent tariff on luxury automobiles. And guess what? Acura is crying,
Infiniti is now finite, Toyota is toasted, Nissan is nixed, Mazda is maxed,
Mitsubishi is busted and Lexus is nauseous. But in the words of Bob Dylan, how
does it feel, Japan? .. . And one thing, Japan, think of this: when you hold
your own trade program to your nosey, it doesn't smell too rosy. In the
Bob Dylan, how does it feel? ("Like a Rolling Stone") --Representative James A.
Traficant Jr., Democrat of Ohio, addressing the House in May 1995.
The Clinton Impeachment
What do I have to do to prevent from going through all these things twice?
Except for me it's thrice. ("Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues
Again") Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, in January 1999 referring to
his final two votes as a member of the House and its Judiciary Committee, as he
faced the prospect of taking up the matter as a senator.
Health Care in Vermont
But just as Bob Dylan said, "those who are not busy being born are busy dying."
It is not enough for us to spend this legislative session rehabilitating and
retooling past legislative achievements. We must have an achievement to
own. I propose that our achievement . . . is to design and implement a better
system of health care in Vermont. ("It's Alright Ma") --Gov. Howard Dean of
Vermont, in his inaugural address in January 2000.
The Jeffords Defection
As Bob Dylan was fond of saying, "don't speak too quickly, the wheel is still
spinning." ("The Times They Are A'Changin' ") Senator Trent Lott, Republican of
Mississippi, answering a reporter's question in June 2001 about the
inevitability of his loss of power as Senate majority leader after the
of Senator James Jeffords of Vermont.
It is a sad fact of history that the proponents of change eventually become the
obstacles of change. Senator Wellstone, thank you for your passion and your
service. But you were right in '90. Two terms is enough. The time has come to
go. Bob Dylan is singing your song: (singing) "Come senators, Congressmen,
please heed the call; don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall. For
he who gets hurt will be he who has stalled. There's a battle outside and it's
raging. It'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls. For the times they
are a'changin'." ("The Times They Are A'Changin' ") Senator-elect Norm Coleman
in his acceptance speech at the Minnesota State Republican Convention in June
2002, directing his remarks to his opponent, --Senator Paul Wellstone.
Age and Rejuvenation
I went to see Bob Dylan in Madison Square Garden last week and he gave a
terrific show and I was reminded of one of his lyrics that I think answers your
question. "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now." ("My Back
Pages") --Al Gore, in response to a question last week about whether he
represents new blood in the Democratic Party.
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