Singing the wrong kind of presidential tunes

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Singing the wrong kind of presidential tune
By Ray Hanania –– What is it about singing candidates?

Last Thursday, President Barack Obama was crooning the line from a popular Al Green soul song, “Let’s Stay Together,” at a fundraiser he had at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

This week, Mitt Romney sang “America the Beautiful” at a Florida Republican campaign rally giving it a Frank Sinatra-esque flare.

What’s going on? Are our presidents lining up for American Idol? Or, more likely, it’s just politics.

I have a feeling (Black Eyed Peas) that Obama was just being natural.

Al Green was in the audience and during his remarks, Obama, who is good at impromptu humor and staging his persona, broke into song.

Well, Obama didn’t really sing a song at all. He merely swooned out most of one line from the song, “Girl … I am so in love with you …”

In contrast, Romney belted out all of the words to America the Beautiful.

Now, it’s kind of like when Bill Clinton brought out his saxophone and started playing it during his 1992 presidential campaign. It was memorable, for sure.

But in Clinton’s case, he was very talented on the Sax, or did I mean Sex? Not sure.

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Clinton won many awards for tenor saxophone while a student at Hot Springs High School, and sat “First Chair” in the state band’s saxophone section. He said in his memoirs entitled “My Life” that he wanted to be a musician but changed his mind. He considered becoming a doctor but decided on public service.

But while Obama may have just gone with the moment, you know for sure that Romney had seen Obama and the reaction and media coverage he received when he sang one line from the Al Green song. That’s why he decided to break into tune himself.

Except that Romney was far from being in tune. It was one of the worst renditions of America the Beautiful I have heard in a long time. So staged. So phony. And definitely not American Idol.

Neither Romney, not Obama for that matter, wouldn’t have a chance trying out on American Idol. In fact, Obama was smart enough to drop it after he made his way through one lyric.

Romney just wouldn’t stop.

I think the American people want someone as president who is natural and not fake. I’d rather hear them continue the national debate on what this country needs.

The Republican primary debates between Romney and Newt Gingrich have been phenomenal and full of ideas and substance, even if I don’t always agree with the hard conservative right.

Next thing you know, Rick Santorum is going to be out there with a Les Paul playing the Star Spangled Banner Jimi Hendrix style with his teeth (I can). Or maybe Ron Paul will be out there trying to play the theme from Rocky with an Oud, which is a Middle Eastern mandolin.

What will Newt Gingrich be playing? Well, the American people the way he has always been playing us for fools.

Please. I’ve had enough of presidential candidates pretending to be entertainers. They’re funny enough as it is. How about some substance?

(Catch Ray Hanania on Radio Chicagoland every Sunday morning from 8 am until 11 am on WSBC AM 1240 Radio.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites and (Illinois News Network at

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post,, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

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