OK, a lot of people really don't like Kanye West, for a variety of reasons, most of them good. But he does have his fans, and apparently Donald Trump is one of them. So you might think, considering the difficulty Trump's inaugural planners have had getting major talent to perform during the inauguration weekend, Kanye would be a logical one to ask. Nope.
West met with Trump in December, and, given the difficulty inauguration planners were already having in securing talent for the celebration it looked like Kanye would be on the program. But on Wednesday evening inaugural official Tom Barrack told CNN's Erin Burnett that West would not be performing because his musical style was not a fit for the "typically and traditionally American event."
Granted, the program for the swearing-in ceremony itself is pretty vanilla. The U.S. Marine Corps Band, the Missouri State University Chorale, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. But there wasn't a place for Kanye somewhere during the inauguration weekend?
Take Thursday's "Make America Great Again" celebration on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The list of performers leans heavily on the "America First" country talents of Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood, but also on the program is pop group 3 Doors Down and 60s soul singer Sam Moore, formerly of Sam & Dave.
So why no Kanye? Here's what I think. Many, maybe even most, Trump supporters have their image of what America should look (and sound) like firmly set in the 1950s and early 60s. Country performers, pop rock performers, even the smooth soul of Sam Moore are sounds the largely white audience will identify with. The contemporary sounds of Kanye West aren't in their comfort zone.
Remember how white America, fueled by right-wing media, lost its collective mind a few years ago when rapper Common was invited to the White House by Michelle Obama? To right-wing white people, nothing says "black empowerment" like rap. Just like rock and roll in the 60s, rap quickly assumed the role of protest music in the 80s and 90s. Even though Kayne's music is nowhere near as controversial as that of iconic groups such as N.W.A., just the very sound of it would likely see the crowd, almost guaranteed to be overwhelmingly white and conservative, bail out before the performance is over.
Still, organizers should have given Kanye some consideration. For one thing, he may have helped with what is expected to be a much smaller than usual turnout for the inauguration. Despite the animosity many people feel toward him, Kanye is wildly popular with his fans and draws huge crowds for his performances.
Maybe, since he was snubbed, we will get to see Kanye rush the stage on Friday, grab the mic away from Trump, and tell everyone how he should really be the one getting sworn in. Now that would make for an entertaining inauguration!