Who rocked the RNC?

After all the promises–of big spenders, a spotlight on the Minnesota good life, big spenders–who made out during the recent Republican National Convention? (Besides Bristol and her BF…). And can you tell anything about a political party by the bands its affiliates hire for convention parties?

First, let’s just take a moment to reflect on the convention that wasn’t — for all the local media (mainstream, first-person bloggers, and the unusual blur of the two at The Indepedent, MinnPost and the like) who descended into the streets and ballrooms and power circles, how come so few found anything they weren’t already looking for? Writers embedding themselves among hooligans looking for a fight with police found, surprise, surprise, police willing to give it to them. Newspapers looking for the next character in politics found, surprise, surprise Sarah Palin–and declared that she did “very well.” Very well? Since when is the denominator for a great convention speech simply not screwing up? How about challenging the party to a more profound platform, the nation to higher ideals? Hubert H. Humphrey is turning over in his grave.

And what’s with the local papers simply reprinting the main talking point of a candidate’s speech as the front-page headline, like printing a press release. Is that supposed to be fair somewhere? What about fairness to readers, who deserve a little insight? Not a bright day for the local media. Pulitzers need not apply.

But don’t get me started, because all anyone was really here to do was rock anyway, right? You’d think so, given the line-up of bands who likely took top dollar from the lobbying groups and party affiliates who paid to get those wacky delegates on the dance floor. Who were they, and does their playing here say more about them or the party?

Let’s start with Sammy Hagar, the big name on Aug. 31 — announced as a great Republican at his First Avenue event, indeed the man has given the goods to Republican candidates, Bush-Cheney most particularly, over the years. Though, as one sardonic reviewer noted, his “hair looks more Libertarian.”

Then there was the Beach Boys, who played the Convention Kick-Off at International Market Square. Consider that Reagan invited them to play in the ’80s and you’ll see they’re California the way Reagan and Schwarzenegger were (which isn’t giving the Terminator enough credit), and that the whole beach-scene thing was always as clean as Gidget to start with. Charlie Daniels Band, well, the man’s been dueling with the devil in more than ways than one for a long time now.

Leann Rimes and Gretchen Wilson–country chicks who have bought the anti-intellectual thing hook, line, and sinkhole. Wilson‘s Bible and flag anthem  Politically Uncorrect (did I mention anti-intellectual?), recorded as a duet with Merle (never met an American war I didn’t like) Haggard, no doubt brought the house down and the ten-gallon hats into the air.

And then there’s Smash Mouth, playing the Coalition for a Conservative Majority party. I don’t know what to say about this, since they come as apolitical, unless you count their middle-of-the-road tunes as conservative. When Tom DeLay is getting down to your music, though, I would almost hope that something deeper than opportunism is at work here. And finally: Big Head Todd (bring your own Monsters, presumably) played a party for Magnum Entertainment, a catering group that seems to specialize in political parties, as it were, like the closing party for the 109th Congress. I’m going to assume the BHT boys were simply girding their reputation as the equal-opportunity party kings, considering Magnum has posted such stories about its events as this from the Hill newspaper: “GOP Lobbyist Loved Watching Female Co-Workers Dance.”

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