How the Left Lost Teen Spirit

One of my favorite things to do these days is to type random names or phrases into Wikipedia and see what comes up.

So the other day I was listening to some MP3s, and some Led Zeppelin came on. That reminded me that I had a biography of the band that I hadn’t read in about 10 years. So I went to the closet, found it, and started reading. In 1973 they hired a publicist named Danny Goldberg who eventually became vice-president of their record label, Swan Song. He was an interesting character because he was several years younger than the members of the band (who were in their mid-20s when he was hired), and at the time he had longer hair than any of the band – not what you’d expect from a “corporate” guy. So I decided to type Danny Goldberg’s name into Wikipedia and see what he’s been up to the past 30 years.

As it turns out, he’s been up to a lot. He’s been the president or chairman/CEO of several record labels, and he managed Nirvana when they were at their peak. He was also CEO of Air America Talk Radio from February 2005 to April 2006 and remains with the company as vice chairman. I noticed he had his own site,, and being a big fan of people who own their own name as a domain, I clicked on it.

The most fascinating part of the site, I thought, was an interview that he did. In the interview he explains that he supports the policy goals of the Left, but that Democrats have been ineffective in wrestling power away from Republicans because they have forgotten how to talk to the common man (and woman). Democrats, he says, come off sounding like they’re only concerned with what people in Washington think. Republicans, on the other hand, learned early on to speak to the people. Reagan was “the Great Communicator.” Dubya wanted his rationale for the Iraq mess to be so simple that “even the boys in Lubbock could understand it.”

Until Democrats learn to connect with the public – particularly young people, Goldberg says, they will continue to lose elections, no matter how destructive the Republicans’ policies are. He outlines how pop culture can be used as a hook to connect with the younger generation in the interview and in several books he has written. John Kerry should have hired this guy as an adviser, because he personifies the problems Goldberg talks about. Hopefully Hillary Clinton will ask his advice in ’08.

Song currently stuck in my head: “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp” by Led Zeppelin. There will never be another drummer like John Bonham.