Jon Huntsman loves this stuff! And he's a Republican!

One of my favorite news items from the 2008 presidential campaign was a story in which bluegrass great Ralph Stanley endorsed then Senator Barack Obama for President. If I remember correctly, Mr. Obama, in thanking Mr. Stanley for his support, mentioned that he had some of Stanley’s music on his iPod, thereby confusing the hell out of the octogenarian banjo-plucker (“What’s an iPod?”). Sadly no one ever followed up with Barack Obama on, say, which of the Stanley Brothers’ songs he liked best, or what initially drew him to bluegrass music in the first place.

That would have been a fun read – it would have been cool to see if the future president was just paying lip service to a national treasure, or if he really had some serious bluegrass cred. We may never know. Thanks be, then, to blogger Dave Weigel. You see, awhile back, Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman tweaked his small-ish Twitter following by professing his love for Captain Beefheart. And this last weekend, while Weigel was covering the Republican campaign in New Hampshire, he took a bit of time to talk Beefheart with Huntsman. The verdict: Jon Huntsman Passes the Beefheart Test!

Now, generally speaking, and I admit to some shameless stereotyping here, when I think of the musical tastes of Republicans – especially those of the Presidential candidate persuasion – I generally think country: Toby Keith’s big ol’ boot up the rest of the world’s collective ass, Miranda Lambert’s hybrid of domestic sentimentality and gun-toting girl-power, Lady Antebellum’s popular (and thereby sacrosanct) blandness, or the Charlie Daniels Band’s aggressively Southern take-no-shit-itude.

There’s also classic rock. Ted Nugent, for instance, had been a walking manifesto for the Tea Party’s wild-eyed, take-no-prisoners brand of pseudo-libertarianism for decades before anyone had ever heard of Glenn Beck. Wisconsin’s own governor Scott Walker has been playing John Mellencamp’s “Small Town” at his recent speaking engagements and Sarah Palin clearly [hearts] Heart although the feeling is emphatically not mutual. (Don Van Vliet, the artist formerly known as Captain Beefheart, died last December, and is thus unable to weigh in on Huntsman.)

To my mind, then, loving Captain Beefheart is the sort of thing that only one of the people Sarah Palin sneeringly dismisses as an elitist would ever cop to so openly. Who’s ever even heard of Captain Beefheart? And among those who have heard of Captain Beefheart, who could say that they love his music? I’ll tell you who: rock critics. And people who wish they were rock critics. Only true music snobs love Captain Beefheart. Captain Beefheart is not the music of the conservative primary voter. Then again, maybe Huntsman isn’t trying to win the hearts and minds of Rick Perry devotees. After all, in that same Twitter feed, he admitted to *gulp* believing in evolution and trusting scientists.

I have to admit. I’m no fan of Captain Beefheart. I am a fan of a lot of artists who cite Captain Beefheart as an influence, and because of that, I have tried on numerous occasions to “get into” Captain Beefheart, and on all such occasions so far, I have failed. I’m also not a fan of the current roster of Republican presidential frontrunners, but Huntsman has given me the tiniest bit of hope. Not only does he say he likes Captain Beefheart. He actually does like Captain Beefheart. Also – and again: not a big fan here – but how awesome would it be to hear Captain Beefheart played at a Republican campaign rally?

I’m not typically the kind of guy who votes into office the candidate I’d most want to have a beer with. After all, the likelihood of my having a beer with the President, while not exactly zero, do lie somewhere between winning the Powerball and lightning striking three times. But Jon Huntsman is a Presidential candidate I would love to talk music with, and I have to say, that may have given me reason enough to vote for him in the primary. It’s not like he’s going to win.