Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Power & The Passion

Steve Clemons is a good friend, but it's fun to see an otherwise very smart guy have such a capacity for understatement when it comes to things slightly more run-of-the-mill than intricate foreign policy. Steve has been attending a conference Down Under for a few days:

I'm not very culturally literate, and it took my table partner at the ongoing Australian American Leadership Dialogue to tell me that the erudite, bald-headed guy speaking eloquently and convincingly about sensible strategies to confront climate change was a former lead singer of the group Midnight Oil, Peter Garrett.
"a former lead singer of the group Midnight Oil"? Oh, Steve!

That's like saying that Mick Jagger is a singer with the Rolling Stones! Garrett was one of the most dynamic frontmen in rock and Midnight Oil was also one of the most explicitly political bands ever. Even better, they could match the earnestness with powerful music and tuneful lyrics. One of the reasons, they seemed better than the usual American brand of entertainers dabbling in politics is that, left-wing point of view aside, they seemed to know their stuff (admittedly, my own knowledge of Australian politics and policy was severely limited).

They started in the late '70s, but their international high point was the late-80s and early '90s, with great songs like "
Beds Are Burning", "The Dead Heart", "Blue Sky Mine" (a song that still has resonance today given the mine collapses in Utah and China) and perhaps my favorite, "Forgotten Years":

I caught the Oils in a farewell tour a couple of years ago. They still could bring it; Garrett was at his manic best.

Anyway, it looks like Garrett is taking his passion to where he believes it may actually have impact. We'll find out if he can marry the power and the passion:

P.S. Oh, the Aussie election may actually hinge on how voter react to the Labor leader's visit to a Manhattan strip club -- courtesy of the editor of a certain well-known tabloid!

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