A few days ago, Michele Bachmann received a letter from Tom Petty. The rocker asked the Republican to kindly stop using his song “American Girl” as her campaign jingle in her bid for president.

The cease-and-desist letter raised the usual chatter about artistic rights and political branding, totally missing the point.

How does a tea party candidate who owns a Christian counseling service on the side go to Iowa, crank up the Alpines and blast Tom Petty as a rallying call to conservative values?

There are many of us who don’t understand retail politics. We’re the ones who understand Tom Petty. You know, the Tom Petty of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers? Eight-track cassettes on the floor mats, an AMC Pacer clouded by smoke and a Big Gulp Mountain Dew paired with a bag of Funyuns.

The charitable conclusion is that the political consultant simply thought “American Girl” was a catchy title and the congresswoman from Minnesota was too busy to vet the Petty oeuvre.

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