Will conservatives criticizing President Obama over Common tackle Marco Rubio's love of gangsta rap?
If you never expected to see a Tea Party-approved politician touted as a possible GOP candidate for president in 2016 talk about how much he loves a song about an inner-city gangster shooting other gangsters and laughing at whoever gets capped in the confusion, join the club.
I'm surprised, mostly because I remember how much noise certain conservative pundits made about President Obama hosting rapper Common to the White House last year; Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, the Daily Caller and the Drudge Report were among many on the right who seemed to have little idea how positive much of Common's music really is.
Common was invited to a night of poetry at the White House, leading The Fox Nation blog to call him "vile," and Hannity to say "it baffles me this is the person the White House has chosen to set as an example to our kids."
So will these same voices speak up, now that Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has told G.Q. magazine one of his favorite songs is N.W.A.'s "Straight Outta Compton," with lyrics such as "When I'm called off/I got a sawed off/Squeeze the trigger/and bodies are hauled off."
In a free wheeling interview with G.Q. -- which must have set a record for how many pertinent follow-up questions got ignored by the interviewer -- Rubio lists his three favorite rap songs, all gangsta rap classics: "Straight Outta Compton" by N.W.A. "Killuminati" by Tupac and Eminem's "Lose Yourself."
To be sure, I don't hold anything against Rubio for liking those songs, though my favorite N.W. A. jam from the Straight Outta Compton album is "Gangsta, Gangsta."
But it seems a little odd to me that a guy who in the same interview wouldn't dare cross religious leaders by suggesting the world is millions of years old ("I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians," Rubio noted), is completely comfortable expressing his love for rappers who rhyme on the joy of killing enemies, dealing drugs and living an amoral, brutally violent lifestyle.
I'm a child of that era, and I can't say I listen to Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, NWA and Ice Cube without some reservations over their messages. Ask me what I'm listening to these days, and the list leans more to The Roots, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and artists who would be considered more positive.
I'm also amazed -- as I was after hearing Paul Ryan insist he was a fan of super-lefty rockers Rage Against the Machine -- that Rubio could be such a fan of artists whose entire body of work stands diametrically opposed to the positions they espouse.
So far, the only part of the interview Rubio has walked back is his impolitic brush-off of Miami rapper Pitbull, one of the most visible pop stars from South Florida who he originally said had "no message" and was focused on party music (which is true, but kinda awkward for a Florida politician to admit.) Later, on Twitter, Rubio insisted the story about him disliking Pitbull, a fellow Cuban-American, was "flat wrong."
What I'm really hoping, is that Rubio's admissions end this silly reflex of conservatives digging through the back catalog of every artist visiting the White House to try embarrassing the president. Especially when those artists are African Americans too easily categorized as scary figures.
So, what say you Palin, Hannity, Limbaugh and O'Reilly?