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

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

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, Hanania 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. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Ray Hanania