The Carnival

03.17.14

The GOP's War On Wyclef

The war between Democratic and Republican operatives over the 15-year-old song "Gone Til' November" is representative of all that is wrong with American politics.

Forget “the war on women,” the GOP is launching the “war on Wyclef.” 

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is condemning Iowa Democrats for sending out a playlist mocking Joni Ernst, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in the Hawkeye State. Ernst, a first-term state senator, had been missing votes in Des Moines  so the Iowa Democratic Party sent out a “missing you Joni playlist” which included the song  “Gone Til November” by Wyclef Jean.

The hit song from 1997 is about a drug runner, saying farewell to his girlfriend as he goes on yet another long trip. But to NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring, "Gone Til November" was “a sexist song about murder.” In a newsletter, the NRSC expanded on this, specifically condemning the song for including the lyrics "I'll feed you aphrodisiac just to get you hot." Dayspring neglects to mention that seems to made in the context of a consensual adult relationship. The song is an extended apology to a girlfriend for leaving (to go run drugs) and the feeding of an aphrodisiac is part of what he promises her once we gets home, preceded by a promise to "take you out to dinner at your favorite spot.” The lyric is only found in the "pop version" of the song, which was released as a single and is not included in the "album version."

In statement to The Daily Beast, Christina Freundlich, the Communications Director for the Iowa Democratic Party, dismissed Dayspring's criticism. "Joni Ernst is missing votes and not doing her job as a State Senator while she campaigns for higher office. The Spotify playlist was nothing more than a lighthearted way of highlighting a very serious problem."

The entire back and forth between Iowa Democrats and the NRSC is beyond idiotic. Speaking from personal experience, at least one reporter who got the initial playlist email in his inbox quickly deleted it while groaning about the state of American democracy.  The GOP response is even more inane. It seems to be motivated by the logic of high school debaters that every argument that your opponent makes needs to be rebutted, no matter how stupid, otherwise you are conceding the point.

No Iowa swing voter will make up their mind based on Wyclef in November (in fact, it’s likely relatively few have even heard of him.) Instead, at best, this is a deeply intellectually dishonest attempt to try to flip “the war on women” narrative from 2012 against Democrats. At worst, its flacks engaging in a back and forth which absolutely no one else cares about, reporters and DC insiders included.  

The NRSC did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast. But, it’s fair to assume that, for those reporters getting press releases from campaigns of both parties, intellectual honesty will be gone (from our inboxes) til’ November.