MY excitement at the news that Senator Chris Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, is considering a bid for president in 2008 is easy to explain: his name has enormous rhyming potential. We all have our own issues.And it took me back to the 60s, when Dodd's dad was a Senator and Phil Ochs used the line I've put in my title in "Draft Dodger Rag," which you can listen to here or buy the album "I Ain't Marching Anymore." Lyrics here:
Oh, I'm just a typical American boy from a typical American townThe original "chicken hawk" song (I think).
I believe in God and Senator Dodd and a-keepin' old Castro down
And when it came my time to serve I knew "better dead than red"
But when I got to my old draft board, buddy, this is what I said....
But the subject is poetry and names. Trillin has made his career in part out of writing light verse with a high proportion of famous names:
Someone in my position tends to see Ross Perot and John McCain as two peas in a pod — blessedly iambic candidates with nearly unlimited rhyming possibilities. During my 16 years in the deadline poetry game, though, we've had nobody with a name like Ross Perot or John McCain in the White House. I've had to deal with presidents whose names are an affront to rhyme and meter. Given the rhyming difficulties of Bill Clinton's name, in fact, I believe future historians will think of him as the "orange" of American presidents.I think of him as the banana of Presidents, but it's all a matter of how you look at things.
Just the other day, in this comments thread to that post about whether lawprofs should call students by their first names, we got to talking about the poetic limitations of some names. I said: "[T]here are no pop songs about 'Ann.' Actually, there are few pop songs with one-syllable names."
With this, Pogo proved me wrong and exposed my inadequate knowledge of the 1960s, to which I'll plead guilty, eschewing the defense that if you can remember, you weren't there.
I looked into your cool cool eyesIf you want to rhyme, rhyme. If you don't, don't. ← inferred Stooge theory of poetry.
I felt so fine, I felt so fine
I floated in your swimming pools
I felt so weak, I felt so blue
Back to Trillin, who despite his name, didn't sing his lyrics (as far as I know). Trillin's had trouble with the current administration:
At times George W. Bush has seemed interested in making my life easier. He must have known before the appointments were made, for instance, that Condoleezza Rice's name fits exactly into the meter of "The March of the Siamese Children" from "The King and I" ("Condoleezza Rice, who is cold as ice, is precise with her advice") and that Alberto Gonzales rhymes with "loyal über alles."And he fretted over the names coming up in 2008:
In my more pessimistic contemplations of the 2008 campaign, I see myself telling some political operative that I've made my peace with the possibility that the Democrats, desperate for some charisma, could turn to Barack Obama — a man whose rhymes I long ago used up in trying to deal with Osama bin Laden.Okay, then. Let's see the poems. Roll out your "-itch" words, you bitch.
"But Obama's not the only Illinois contender," the operative says. "There's also the governor."
"The governor," he repeats. "Rod Blagojevich."
IN THE COMMENTS: JohnJEnright composes this:
He desired the joyAND: More commenters are itching for frontpaging. First, bearbee:
of being rich.
He devised a ploy,
but it hit a hitch.
BlagojevichAnd Palladian (presumably sung to the tune of "The Munchkin Song"):
Chicago jock itch
Who tried to get rich
By auditioning off a niche
And ended in an FBI hitch
Now when will he turn and snitch
Blagojevich, you bitch,
Will scratch you where you itch
and name you to the Senate seat that Barry O did ditch.
But wait! Hold on!
There's just a little hitch!
A Senate seat is valuable! He's trying to get rich.
So here's the pitch!
Pay up you fucking bitch!
And just forget Pat Fitz and Lisa Madigan, that witch!
Payola is his niche!
A suitcase full of unmarked bills, nobody's gonna snitch!
But who will stop
this monumental kitsch?
Corruption that would cause even Jack Abramoff to twitch!
Fitch? No, Fitz!
in a prosecutor blitz
will smash the Illinois machine to tiny little bits!