The first single from Bruce Springsteen's 17th album -- which, if you believe the chatter from the E Street blogosphere, is going to be called Wrecking Ball and come out in March-- was released at midnight as an Amazon digital download. It's called "We Take Care of Our Own," and after a few dozen listens, we feel confident saying: it's really, really good. This is to be expected, because it's Springsteen, and also because the song involves flags, loyalty oaths, and going through life with a heart-as-big-as-all-outdoors. It's almost certain to be played to warm up the crowd at every Barack Obama campaign rally between now and election day, and with good reason, since Springsteen's lyrics provide the president with a solid blueprint for winning in the general election. Among the uniquely Springsteenian lyrics that Obama should seize hold of:
"...I've been knocking on the door that holds the throne..."
The ratio of thrones in Bruce Springsteen songs to thrones in reveryday life has always been out-of-whack, but the image of someone -- probably someone royal -- sitting on a throne behind a locked door makes the incumbent-as-rabble-rouser campaign narrative plausible.
"...I've been looking for the map that leads me home..."
Maps are also very important in Springsteen songs, possibly because everyone's always trying to find thrones. If Obama wants to win, he'll have to redraw the electoral map from 2008, especially if Mitt Romney chooses Marco Rubio as his running mate.
"...Stumbling on good hearts turned to stone...."
An olive branch to extend to the more pragmatic members of the Tea Party caucus. Also: a sly bit of push-polling that will interject the question of Romney's heart -- and whether it is made of stone -- into the debate.
Something about somebody with good intentions "gone dry as a bone...."
A nice high-minded swipe to direct at Eric Cantor and/or progressive Democrats who won't stop fretting about predator drones, the administration's lack of transparency, and the deal to preserve the Bush-era tax cuts.
"...We take care of our own, wherever this flag is flown..."
Nothing the president or The Boss says will convince conservative voters that the 2010 health care reform law was a good idea. But he can still sell health care to his fabled "independent coalition" by steering the conversation away from the language of co-pays (boring) and Cadillac plans (complicated), and saying the overhaul was needed because we take care of our own. Granted, the president will be on some politically shaky ground there, but can use the flag to segue into a discussion about Iraq, where the U.S. flag is no longer flying, and the 125-foot yachts Somali pirates aren't hijacking because they fear the president of the United States will have them shot."
"...We're the eyes, the eyes, with the will to see. We're the hearts that flow over with mercy."
A dash of liberal guilt never hurt anyone, particularly a Democrat running for higher office. Just sprinkle it on like nutmeg.
"...Where's the promise from sea to shining sea? WHERE'S THE PROMISE FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA?.."
The "vision thing" is not one of candidate Romney's strengths. This is a point Obama should raise, and then immediately raise again in a louder, much throatier voice while out on the stump.