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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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American Fool: John Mellencamp for Senator?

You don't have to be a political junkie like me to know that, with the economy still in low gear and healthcare having gone down in flames, the Democrats are going to be in big trouble this November. Many pundits are already predicting that the Democrats could lose as many as 40 seats in the House and six or seven Senate seats, leaving them with the barest of bare majorities.

It was pretty clear that times were hard when Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who was expected to cruise to an easy victory in the fall, abruptly announced his retirement earlier this week, making it a very real possibility that the Democrats could lose his seat, since Indiana is a traditionally GOP state. But wait! Could John Mellencamp, perhaps the best-known Hoosier after Larry Bird, save the day? The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel has already been promoting a Mellencamp candidacy. And now Brent Budowsky, a former aide to Sen. Birch Bayh, Evan's dad, is touting Mellencamp as well.

Mellencamp2 In a piece he posted for the Hill, Budowsky calls a Mellencamp candidacy an "inspired idea," saying that the singer is "unique, one of a kind, a voice for the people who believe America needs a new brand of politics and new kind of leadership in the Senate.... I believe John Mellencamp would electrify the campaign and electrify Democrats who want a fighter for working people, farmers, small businesses and small-town America."  

Of course, even though Mellencamp was at the White House just last week, performing as part of a celebration of music from the civil rights era, he hasn't shown the slightest sign of interest in running for office. And while I'd love to see Indiana stay in the Democratic column, I can't say that I'm especially enthusiastic about the party turning to showbiz non-pros in its desperate search for a viable candidate. Once you get past George Clooney, who seems to have a better grasp of most issues than about half of the House of Representatives, it would be hard to imagine any Hollywood type being a worthwhile candidate for any office above film commissioner.

The only good news is that with the Republicans cozying up to all sorts of untested Tea Party oddballs, it would be hard for conservative pundits to engage in any of their customary celeb bashing if Mellencamp were to actually throw his hat in the ring. If in the movie business this is the year of "Avatar," in politics this is the year of the amateur.

Photo of John Mellencamp by Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

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Sir John Mellencamp has the kind of grassroots progressivism that would appeal to people in Indiana.

curious... it's fair to say, looking at Bayh's record that he was quite the centrist, official Democrat allegiance notwithstanding; Indiana is a state that has long been socially conservative to the utmost (and of course, avowed KKK members had state government on-lock back in the 1920s), aligning at the federal level with the GOP in most if not all respects (and it's also the state that gave us Dan Quayle, 'nuff said)..

There is not much organized labor except in the northwest (e.g., Gary, Hammond, where the decimated steel-mill industry has foundered for decades), and the mid-state Indianapolis area.. racial minorities are similarly concentrated in the above areas.. If Progressives want anything accomplished, they are going to have to push hard in the state, starting with their core base.. I would be curious as to what kind of urban agenda (if any) potential Democratic candidates will have..

In other words, Americans are not entitled to a government for the people by the people. Government service is not a civic service, but a profession reserved to those on Wall Street, K Street, foreign governments and corporate heads?

I like him. He is an all american self made family man. But has anyone even asked him if he wants the job before all the hoopla runs out of control? My guess is no.

As a follower of John Mellencamps, (I was at the first Farm Aid, had the chance to speak to him at a small concert in MO and at Epcot a few years ago), i think the young John Cougar would be incredibly amused at the thought of representing Indiana. He would be a breath of fresh air, some actual honesty and passion in our government. He hss spent years representing the farmer, the over authoritized-I say go for it. Hell, if Al Frankin (truly a representitive of the average American) can be elected, why not the American Fool?


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