A few months ago, I said we should judge our political candidates based on what mattered most—their taste in popular culture. Now that the conventions are over and the presidential race is really heating up, it seems like election coverage is unavoidable in all media (which, in my opinion, is a good thing). Most of the attention and speculation is focused on the candidates’ newest running mates, so it’s only fair to look at their tastes and see what kind of pop-culture aesthetic they bring to the tickets.
However, these potential veeps are playing it close to the chest. While Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain announced their favorite books, movies, songs, and TV shows proudly in interviews and their MySpace and Facebook pages, Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin are alarmingly tight-lipped. (What are you hiding, veeps?)
At least Biden tried to run for president earlier this year. Even though his MySpace and Facebook only hint at his tastes, we do get more information from interviews. For example, under “Favorite Books” he lists “American Gospel” and “Irish America.” The Huffington Post elaborates, saying that Biden is known for quoting poets William Butler Yeats and Seamus Heaney on the Senate floor. (The Huffington Posts also claims that reciting poetry helped Biden get over his stutter. As a writer, I find that very sweet.)
Other than his choice of literature, the only thing we know about Biden’s pop-cultural taste is that his favorite thing to watch on TV is the Philadelphia Eagles game (which comes courtesy of South Carolina’s The State). That’s it. No favorite songs (though he entered the DNC to John Mellencamp’s “Our Country” and left to Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising,” so I’m getting a roots-rock vibe), no favorite movies, at least for now.
Then, there’s Palin. What’s a hockey mom to blast from her minivan?
In fact, the only things we know about Palin, pop-culture-wise, are things she either doesn’t like or can’t use. While her MySpace page plays the national anthem, she came onstage at the RNC to Heart’s “Barracuda,” only to have Heart request that she never play its music again (at least according to ABC).
Books are an even thornier issue, as Palin has a rep as being a book-banner. (Boo!) Gawker takes that accusation even further, saying that “Sarah Palin, upon becoming mayor of Wasilla, called up the local librarian to inquire about banning books: the idea never went anywhere because she didn’t seem to know what books she’d ban. Sarah Palin doesn’t read!” Harsh words, Gawker. I’m sure she’s at least read Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska’s Political Establishment Upside Down by Kaylene Johnson, which is rocking the No. 11 spot on the Amazon Sales Chart right now. She was also a sports journalist and TV reporter, but her favorite periodicals and TV shows—as well as movies and songs—for now will remain a mystery.
Got the inside scoop on the candidates’ likes and dislikes? Let me know in the comments.