Former Bush adviser Dana Perino made America cringe by rapping a response to Jay-Z's rapped defense of his trip to Cuba, following in the footsteps of many conservatives who have rapped before. They have never not made us cringe.
Perino's rap isn't creepy because she has no musical talent, or because she uses the term "funky fresh" like it's 1978. It's because she says, "I'm white like Casper." Why? What does whiteness have to do with Cuba? Her co-hosts on Fox's The Five were quite interested in that angle. "For a white girl from Colorado that's damn good," Bob Beckel said. "'White like Casper' -- I like that," Kimberly Guilfoyle added. It's enough to make you think their interest in Jay-Z and Beyonce's trip was based on something other than a foreign policy dispute.
Here's Perino's old colleague Karl Rove in 2007, playing along at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association dinner when comedians Brad Sherwood and Colin Mochrie introduced him as "MC Rove." Rove joined in, and danced embarrassingly. "I'm MC Rove" he said on cue. Why was this funny? The comedians rapped, "He can't be beat because he's so white from his head to his feet!" (Rove is putting his hands in the air, I think, at right.)
The young Republican kids at least have enough sense not to remind everyone that they're white. (No reminders needed!) Still, the conservative rap song genre is largely premised on the assumption that Republicans are not cool and therefore seeing Republicans rap is unexpected. These songs do not do much to change that impression. During the 2012 election, some kids calling themselves After Late Hours posted a "Mitt Romney Rap."
It is unsettlingly sincere. Here are some lyrics:
Remember in '02/
When the Olympics went down/
Mitt Romney came around/
And flipped the frowns upside down.
This is rapped earnestly, as you can see in the GIF at left.
As they rap about Romney, they can't help but imitate rap video cliches. For example:
Why is he doing this? To place extra emphasis on Romney's economic program? I don't think so.
The same phenomenon is apparent in a YouTube from 2009 by people calling themselves The Young Cons. In "Young Con Anthem," they rap about taxes and spending and the Bible.
But the young white conservative treatment of rap is still vastly preferable to the old white conservative treatment of rap. For one, the oldsters act like it's a wacky new phenomenon, and not more than three decades old. Former New York Times reporter Judy Miller told Fox in April that when she went to jail, "I learned a lot about popular culture and rap music." Then there's the nervousness mixed with condescension, a tone of cultural snobbery at odds with their anti-elitism. (Perino, for example, enthusiastically and sincerely tweeted the eff out of the Academy of Country Music awards last weekend.) In a National Review podcast deconstructed by The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdof in January, Jay Nordlinger said, "rap has been all downhill since Sir Mix-a-Lot and 'Baby Got Back.'" A novelty song that's become a frat party classic was the apex of rap? It's like saying rock hasn't been the same since "Yellow Submarine." "I think there's an absence of human feeling in these songs," Mark Steyn said. When Mona Charen posted about the podcast, she said rap was "a symbol of the decline of the West if ever there was one."
So, even as Republicans love to rap, it still must be regarded as an inferior cultural expression. Perino sarcastically said before her performance, "Rap is such a complicated form of music." She rhymed "white like Casper" with "If you don't think Beyonce fears me, go ahead and ask her." Is Beyonce afraid of Dana Perino? Or is Dana Perino afraid of Beyonce?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.