By now, it is no surprise that the state of American foreign affairs is a disaster. President Obama was noticeably absent from the Paris unity rally after the attacks last week. I could rant about that for quite a while, but thankful, Joseph Schartz did that for me in his article on the gaffe, The Day America Stayed Home. The most recent screw up on the foreign stage comes from the illustrious State Department and its fearless leader, John Kerry.
On Friday, January 16 John Kerry met with Parisian officials to offer support. One might suppose that is the least he could do considering that no American representative could manage to attend one of the most significant public events in French history. Secretary Kerry who, as Greg Jaffe from the Washington Post writes that he “brushed aside the criticism, calling it ‘quibbling a little bit,’ and said many embassy staff, including [Jane Hartley, the US ambassador to France], attended the march.” Regardless of this seemingly foot-in-mouth statement, he assured the world that his stop in Paris “will make it crystal clear how passionately we feel about the events that have taken place here.” If that does not ensure the utmost confidence in his efforts, the Voice of America claimed that he was “in Paris to give what he has called a ‘big hug’ to the French capital.”
After all this build up, it turned out that his big gesture was a James Taylor concert. Nothing says “we’re with you” like a concert from a musician who has not been relevant in almost 40 years. The song that really sealed the deal was “You’ve Got a Friend.” Can you feel the love? I know I certainly do.
This is more than sheer hilarity, however. There are two points of interest to bring up here. First, this is not the first time that the administration has used a musician, or James Taylor for that matter in an affectionate gesture. In a Telegraph report from 2011, James Lancho writes that “James Taylor provided the entertainment as Barrack Obama told Angela Merkel ‘you’ve got a friend’ at a special state dinner held for the German chancellor.” Later in the report, Lancho notes that in 2010 Taylor was also at the White House, this time receiving a National Medal of the Arts. It appears that when the US needs to woo its European allies, it trots James Taylor out to sing some soft rock and make amends.
All of this is characteristic of the current incompetent administration, so this brings up the second point of interest from last week’s event. This would be Taylor’s appearance on the short list for Democratic candidates for the US Senate. That was not a joke. In 2013 Alan Chartock, “the president and CEO of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio, an Albany, N.Y. based station that covers part of Western Massachusetts,” wrote a blog that essentially pleaded for Taylor to run. It would be prudent here to mention that this followed the regular election in 2012, rather it was to replace John Kerry’s seat as he took over Hilary Clinton’s position in the Obama administration. In seeking a replacement, Ben Affleck was approached, but declined, so Chartock believed that Taylor would be “somebody who every working man and woman [could] relate to; someone from outside the political class.” Given that he seems to travel in the administration’s inner circle, that point is hard to believe. It is even harder to believe when one considers Chartock’s next point. He asks “What kind of Democrat is he? Everybody knows what the Democratic Party owes Taylor.” For some, this comes across as quite the endorsement, but in light of how often he makes appearances, one has to wonder if he is finally getting his due as the headliner for American foreign diplomacy. If that is the case, why even bother in talking to foreign nations about big issues? Just send James Taylor over for a short set and call it a day.
Though this is undoubtedly a disappointment to the American people and those who stand with the French for the freedom of expression that was so tragically attacked on January 7, some took to Twitter to make the best of things. Twitchy.com has compiled some of the best of #KerrySingalongSongs. Give these a look for a good laugh.