Note: This piece was posted before Super Bowl. Congratulations to the Chiefs on their thrilling victory. And to the Niners on their great season. It turns out the MAGA predictions of a Swift/Kelce betrothal and a Biden endorsement were wrong. So their perfect streak of not getting anything right continues.
Today, the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco Forty-Niners will clash in Super Bowl LVIII. The game will be the highest-rated TV program this year — as it is every year. The Super Bowl is legend for more than football. Its half-time show has featured an A+ list of musical performers. But today, the most famous person in Allegiant Stadium will be neither a player nor a half-time performer (sorry Usher). That honor goes to America’s newest-minted entertainment billionaire (and counting) Taylor Swift.
Let the games begin.
In the past, musicians were rarely celebrated or condemned for their politics. In addition to their creativity, they were notable for their charity work — We Are the World, Band Aid, Live Aid, Farm Aid, Concert for Bangladesh, et al. While superstars like U2’s Bono threw their weight into crises like famine relief.
However, in contemporary America, we view everything through a political lens. Where a musician exists on the political spectrum is a matter for analysis and comment. MAGAs are particularly keen to put people in a political box. Unfortunately, for America’s right wing, their roster of conservative musicians is a list of has-beens (Ted Nugent), minor players (Kid Rock), or wackadoodles (Kanye West).
Swift is not one of them — and MAGA is terrified.
They are so Taylor-deranged that the rumor the Super Bowl had been fixed so Swift and her inamorato, Kansas City’s tight-end nonpareil, Travis Kelce, would announce their engagement and endorse Biden has become accepted truth among the deluded. Their godhead has noticed - and reacted.
On his decaying social media site, Truth Social, Trump shoehorned himself into the conversation with a typical unmoored and phantasmagoric claim. He announced (caveat: link goes to Truth Social - the text is below if you do not want to give them traffic) that he was responsible for Swift’s fortune. Trump added that if she endorsed Biden, it would be an act of disloyalty to him.
“I signed and was responsible for the Music Modernization Act for Taylor Swift and all other Musical Artists. Joe Biden didn’t do anything for Taylor, and never will. There’s no way she could endorse Crooked Joe Biden, the worst and most corrupt President in the History of our Country, and be disloyal to the man who made her so much money. Besides that, I like her boyfriend, Travis, even though he may be a Liberal, and probably can’t stand me! “
The rational reader already knows that Trump is spewing bullshit — and can stop reading this piece now. But, just for the hell of it, let us look at his absurd threats wrapped in a security blankey of self-delusion.
It is true that on October 11, 2018, Trump signed legislation called the Music Modernization Act (MMA). The rest of his rant is drivel.
The bill was the culmination of efforts by the House and Senate to modernize copyright-related issues for music and audio recordings due to new forms of technology, such as digital streaming. I guarantee that Trump, whose favorite band is the J6 Rioter Choir and whose theme song was the Village People’s 1978 gay anthem, Macho Man, has no idea and could neither describe what is in the bill nor its effects on the earnings of recording artists.
Trump’s first Congress was not known for its legislative achievements despite complete control by the GOP. (Although, by the standards of the current Republican House, it was a hotbed of success.) The MMA's success was due to an uncommon comity between parties.
The music bill was a rarity in modern American legislative politics. It was a genuinely bipartisan effort that passed with near, if not total, unanimity in both Houses (a voice vote in the Senate makes it impossible to say for sure).
It is safe to say that Trump had nothing to do with the process. He only signed it publicly because it provided media coverage. If you watch a video of him extolling the legislation, he is reading from a script others have written — and only extemporizes to say,
“I have been reading about this for many years. Never thought I would be involved in it. But, I got involved in it. They were treated very unfairly. They're not going to be treated unfairly anymore.” (But only if they are 100% loyal to Trump.)
Taylor Swift did not start with a $1 million loan from her father. Nor did she get staked a $400 million inheritance. She has made her money the old-fashioned way. Swift may already have a greater net worth than the money-hemorrhaging financial fabulist. And if she does not, she soon will. And she owes nothing to Trump for her success.
As for popularity, let us do a thought experiment. If every American were offered a concert tee signed by Swift or a MAGA hat signed by Trump, by what factor would the demand for Tay Tay’s merch outstrip that for the dotard Don’s?
I do not know what the football score will be, but in the favorability race Swift is beating Trump in a runaway.