Add this to the list of possible omens for tomorrow’s election: Neil Diamond is about to release a new album. The gravely voiced, soft rock sensation will release “Dreams” on Election Day. Mere coincidence? Perhaps. Yet Diamond’s anthology has provided an uncanny soundtrack for American politics for fifty years. He began his career with “Sweet Caroline,” the homage to President Kennedy’s daughter that has become something of a second national anthem. That was followed by “Hot August Nights,” released, ironically, during the summer of the Watergate break-in. In the 1980s, Diamond’s “They’re Coming to America” served as the theme song of Mike Dukakis’s catastrophic presidential campaign. After a break in the '90s to accommodate Clinton’s Fleetwood Mac obsession, Neil roared back into the public consciousness just as Obama-mania began. 2008 was Diamond’s most successful tour to date.
So what might the release of “Dreams” portend for American politics? Diamond Hermeneutics is not an exact science, but there are some indications: “Dreams” is a collection of covers, 14 interpretations of Neil’s favourite songs from the rock era. Could this mean that the era of ‘change’ is over? Diamond’s artistic conservatism is in line with the electorate’s current politics, is it not? In other words, is politics about to return to more familiar, less challenging material, stuff that sells more easily? Are Obama’s best and most innovative days, like Diamond’s, somehow behind him?
On the other hand, Neil is covering The Beatles, Gladys Knight and Randy Newman—all Democrats, loosely speaking, so there might still be some life left in the party. Also, Diamond’s decision to release “Dreams” right now could mean that he thinks that the economy is improving. That would be good news for Obama, but not in enough time to save him from tomorrow's disaster. Time will tell just what it all means. The folks at Neil’s record label are billing “Dreams” as “Diamond’s revelatory masterpiece.” So if you are looking for a Rosetta Stone to decipher tomorrow’s election results, you might start at www.neildiamond.com.
For those looking for a more sophisticated, but not necessarily more accurate analysis of events, take a look at the usually reliable www.pollster.com. The masters of the numbers have an interesting analysis of polling trends over the past twelve months: “Based on both national and state polls, as of October 30, the estimate is a Democratic deficit of about 1.4 points (Dem. minus Rep. = 1.4), while the national trend alone predicts a bigger Democratic deficit of 3.9 points.” This means that the Democratic deficit is not as bad nationally as it appears in individual races and that Republicans may not have the revolution tomorrow they are hoping for. Still, it'll be a GOP win regardless and the Democrats will be left singing something like “Song, Sung Blue.”