Ben Folds documents a House Judiciary Committee showdown as a metaphor for bullying and human resolve on his new song “Mister Peepers.” The political satire, which the songwriter recorded in conjunction with The Washington Post Magazine, references the heated June Capitol Hill exchange between U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan.
“The House Intelligence Committee piles on/ They’d love to know what Rosenstein has on the boss/ But it’s just for cameras; yeah, it’s just a show of force/ Y’all know he can’t comply, but that’s the point, of course,” Folds sings over soulful piano and violin.
On the chorus, he nods to a report that President Trump uses “Mister Peepers” as a nickname for Rosenstein. “So they call him ‘Mister Peepers’ as the thugs all smash his glasses/ Going full Lord of the Flies, burning this island down to ashes,” he sings. “What’s the rule of law if we cant agree on what a fact is?/ There ain’t nothing here to see, folks/ Move along, move along.”
Folds detailed the song’s origins in a behind-the-scenes Washington Post video.
“We have a character in Rosenstein who’s not in the business of theater,” he said. “This guy found himself unwittingly in an incredible hot seat, which is what we saw with that Jordan character [Rep. Jim Jordan], who was being theatrical. And this guy Rod Rosentsein cannot engage in that. He’s now in the position where he’s gonna get beaten up, so that’s the story.”
“I picked the scene that I thought was the most tense, which was that of a wrestler and a nerd,” he added. “How does that relate to a bigger story that’s happened over and over again? … I thought of the president of the United States calling him ‘Mister Peepers,’ picking on his glasses.”
Folds said that Rosenstein felt “much more real and painful” as a character than other politicians in the news. “[It’s] because of the personal position he’s been put in – and the position that we’re all in at these crossroads where we find ourselves deciding to stick up for our norms or not,” he said.