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Peter, Paul & Mary's Peter Pontificates on Primary

For all you folk music fans who have been wondering what Peter Yarrow (who put the "Peter" in Peter, Paul & Mary) thinks of the Democratic presidential primary: Puff the Magic Dragon doesn't have a problem with the bitter slugfest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Mr. Non-Violent Conflict Resolution has become Mr. Non-Conventional Wisdom.

"When the chips are down and the fight is on, they want to know you've got the guts, like Harry Truman, to give 'em hell," Yarrow told The Sleuth Tuesday after joining grassroots lobbyists on Capitol Hill for Arts Advocacy Day.

What a difference four decades makes. Yarrow strummed his guitar, locked arms with fellow civil rights proponents and sang "We Shall Overcome" throughout the 1960s. He marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963 (and yes, Mitt Romney, Yarrow was really there). He later launched the "Don't Laugh At Me" anti-bullying curriculum for school children.

And now, Yarrow thinks the intra-party feud between the Democratic candidates will only toughen them up for the real fight in November.

"I think, frankly, it's very healthy to be battling it out in the primary now," Yarrow told us.

For now, Yarrow seems content just blowin' in the wind while Obama and Clinton hammer it out -- in the morning, in the evening, all over this land.

"Either is more electable today than before the scrapping began," the folk legend explained.

Yarrow was on Capitol Hill, along with Robert Redford, Kerry Washington (of "Ray" fame) and Grammy award singer John Legend appealing for more federal funding for the arts. Yarrow sang "This Little Light of Mine" and "I Woke Up This Morning" (With My Mind Set On Freedom)" at the Congressional Arts Breakfast before more than 500 grassroots lobbyists fanned out across Capitol Hill for the cause.

Making his pitch for more funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, Redford told a House Appropriations subcommittee that his beloved Sundance Institute and Sundance Film Festival were started with NEA grants.

Kerry Washington said she never would have wound up on the silver screen had it not been for those discounted tickets to Broadway that the NEA provided to children like her from the Bronx.

Robert Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, told The Sleuth Tuesday night by telephone that his troops had a successful day of lobbying. "Bob Redford," he said, met with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who, in addition to being a politician, is a fellow actor and Batman fanatic who'll be appearing in the upcoming Batman film "The Dark Knight."

Lynch wasn't sure whether actor Washington had as successful a time Tuesday as she did last year lobbying on Arts Advocacy Day, when she "got a date out of the deal."

Hmm, could he have been referring to Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.), who protested a bit too much last year when he told The Sleuth he didn't even get Washington's phone number after publicly hitting on her?

By Mary Ann Akers  |  April 2, 2008; 8:45 AM ET
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Hey Einstein
Three living witness' have come forward to state that Geroge Romney did indeed march with Martin Luther King. Be a true journalist and go and talk to them. It's not that difficult.
It is not in doubt that the Romenys were at the forefront of the civil rights movement.
Your nasty, snarly remarks are ignorant and show your lazy journalism and dishonesty.
Mitt was speaking rhetorically and you know it. He witnessed for a decade his Fathers support of the movemnent. This is why your profession ranks lower than congress. Your remarks do not serve the truth nor your abilities very well.

good day

Posted by: ajarizona | April 2, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Peter, Paul and Mary were a fake group put together to profit off the struggle for civil right. I saw them in Thousand Oaks right after the Rodney King cops were declared not guilty by a jury in that town, and was appalled that they said nothing about it, and further disgusted by their reference to Nina Simone as not a nice black woman. Then they had the gall to lead the audience in a "We Shall Overcome" sing-along. I walked out. They are despicable.

Posted by: Edwcorey | April 2, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: votenic | April 2, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: rvloser | April 2, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, edwcorey, while you may not like or agree with Peter, Paul and Mary (or Peter, Paul or Mary)'s political leanings or philosophy, they weren't a fake group put together to profit off the struggle for civil right. They were a folk group that expressed their feelings towards and about the civil rights movement (whether any of us, for that matter, shares their views or the views of others who supported the civil rights movement).
However, I'm not sure why you're "appalled that they said nothing about the verdict in the Rodney King case, or why you're "further disgusted by their reference to Nina Simone as not a nice black woman." Why should they have to have an opinion about each and every thing, and, not knowing the Ms. Simone issue intimately, why should they have to believe she was or is a nice woman? If you can say you're appalled and disgusted by them (Peter, Paul and Mary), why can't they think of her as "not nice"?

I'm not sure what makes them "despicable" but I'm glad you walked out if you didn't agree with their pronounced views.

But what I don't understand is, were you upset because they didn't, at the concert you attended, come out regarding the verdict in the King trial and because they did, at the concert you attended, comment on Ms. Simone? Or were you upset at them previously for these non-actions/actions? If you were upset with them previously, you shouldn't have attended their concert; if you expected them to comment on issues at their concert (with you in attendance) that concern or are of interest to you, I'm not sure that they can comment on each and every thing that's of interest to their audience, many of who have differing opinions, but who respect the general views of Peter, Paul and Mary. Or who simply like the majority of their music.

Sorry, but I like Phil Ochs and Pete Seeger, along with many other folk music performers, although I don't always agree with what they sing about or their person or public views. Just as they didn't always agree with my views, knowing I was a fan and a folk music enthusiast.

They're entertainers, no more or no less influential than you want them to be, or believe them to be.

Posted by: | April 2, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I happen to be Southern, Christian and conservative- so I am 0 for three with Peter, Paul and Mary. I also happen to have met Peter Yarrow and his family on several occaisions, including in their home. Though we differ greatly on the superficial political level, he is a very thoughtful and respectful man. We should all be able to disagree respectfully rather than promote an agenda of hate.

Posted by: Johnny Pryor | April 3, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Music is simply a way of expressing one's views and feelings. This country was built strongly on the premise of "freedom of speech", yet somehow our citizens have learned to disrespect that freedom. I believe these artists and entertainers realize they can never win the approval of all the millions of people who come from very diverse influences. So, why would they not be just as entitled as anyone to express their views? The number of fans of PP&M speaks for itself that their goal was not to represent a political stance, but rather to touch the hearts and spirits of lovers of music.

Posted by: MissDiane622 | April 28, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

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