Bob Schwartz

Us And Them: Presidential Pink Floyd

In response to ABC’s Robin Roberts’ questions about Mitt Romney’s tax returns, Ann Romney stood firm:

“We’ve given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and about how we live our life.”

The benefit of the doubt might indicate that “you people” meant “the media” rather than the huddled masses yearning for information and transparency. But it does seem to fit the storyline that the Romneys believe, appropriately, that the rich are different.

In either case, Pink Floyd’s Us and Them from Dark Side of the Moon came to mind. Us and Them is hauntingly beautiful and multivalently obscure. Hundreds of interpretations have been generated (war? money? Kent State? Syd Barrett?). Who knows? This is art and Pink Floyd, for God’s sake, and like the rest of Dark Side it both washes over you and seeps into you.

Us and them
And after all we’re only ordinary men.
Me and you.
God only knows it’s not what we would choose to do.

Black and blue
And who knows which is which and who is who.
Up and down.
But in the end it’s only round and round.

Haven’t you heard it’s a battle of words
The poster bearer cried.
Listen son, said the man with the gun
There’s room for you inside.

Down and out
It can’t be helped but there’s a lot of it about.
With, without.
And who’ll deny it’s what the fighting’s all about?

Us and Them is clearly the theme of this Presidential campaign. So much so that we should adapt the Dark Side of the Rainbow approach, in which Dark Side of the Moon is mind-blowingly synchronized as the soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz. In this case, Dark Side can be synchronized to your choice of campaign videos. This is not as crazy as it sounds, especially given that both Obama and Romney have exhibited their musical chops. It is doubtful that either one has ever tried singing anything from Pink Floyd, or in Romney’s case even heard the band, but it would be fun and enlightening. The bright promise of politics in Eclipse, maybe?:

All that you touch
All that you see
All that you taste
All you feel.
All that you love
All that you hate
All you distrust
All you save.
All that you give
All that you deal
All that you buy,
beg, borrow or steal.
All you create
All you destroy
All that you do
All that you say.
All that you eat
And everyone you meet
All that you slight
And everyone you fight.
All that is now
All that is gone
All that’s to come
and everything under the sun is in tune
but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

Aurora, Colorado

We are on a forced break from Big Politics and Big Entertainment as usual, in the aftermath of last night’s massacre at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater. Words fail in the face of the still unfolding details about this off-screen horror.

Business as usual will return, as it always does, at its own pace. Meanwhile, there will be attempts to make sense of the senseless. Conclusions will be jumped to, based on varying degrees of information and ideology.

There will be questions about the seeming increase in incidents like this, whether that seeming is based on anecdote or hard statistics.

There will be questions about the prevalence and availability of weapons of multiple destruction (WMD) in our country.

There will be questions about the effect of media and entertainment content on our lives.

All these are questions worth asking and answering constructively, which means openly and intelligently, and not just to score points. There will be time enough for that. Tragedies on any scale can indeed lead to progress and evolution. But there is a fine line so easy to cross, where the incident is just a rhetorical device to make some “bigger” and “more important” point. This can easily dishonor and disregard the basic nature of the loss. All of us who believe this or that, however fervently, have to take care.