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Linda Ronstadt's delicious takedown of Mike Pompeo

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Linda Ronstadt's voice filled the world with pop, R&B and country hits, and she even extended her range into opera and mariachi. Hear the songs and stories that made the singer a legend.

Posted: Dec 9, 2019 2:10 PM
Updated: Dec 9, 2019 2:10 PM

Saturday night, in one of the year's more deliciously awkward celebrity moments, singer Linda Ronstadt went head to head with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Pompeo's own turf. At a State Department event celebrating the year's Kennedy Center honorees, of which Ronstadt is one, she did away with niceties and politesse and instead told Pompeo, the evening's host and the country's most senior diplomat, exactly what she thought of him, which is not very much.

Pompeo never saw it coming — although he set up the jab quite well. During his pre-dinner address, Pompeo referenced Ronstadt's 1975 hit "When Will I Be Loved." "Ms. Ronstadt," he said, "thank you and congratulations. And I will say my job, as I travel the world, I just want to know when I will be loved?"

Later, when Ronstadt had the opportunity to take the microphone, she delivered her response. In front of more than 200 guests, Ronstadt, who has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration, stood up and looked straight at Pompeo's table and said, "I'd like to say to Mr. Pompeo, who wonders when he'll be loved, it's when he stops enabling Donald Trump."

It was a risky move. The politicizing of Hollywood awards events is nothing new, of course, especially in recent years. But few celebrities have taken the opportunity to issue their criticisms so directly, and so boldly. And those who have spoken out have largely done so to far safer crowds of mostly liberal celebrities: Meryl Streep's anti-Trump Golden Globes speech in 2017, for example, or Robert DeNiro's Trump takedown at the 2018 Tony Awards.

This, however, was a government event, held at the US State Department. The audience was politically split, the award itself politically-bestowed, even as it is non-partisan in tone and tradition. And unlike Ronstadt, few Trump administration critics have had the chance to issue criticism in person.

Ronstadt's remarks were unexpected not because her views of Trump weren't known, but because they were not polite. They did not follow traditional rules of decorum expected — from women, especially — at such events. It was not ladylike or demure. It was not "so grateful to be here tonight accepting this award," as so many so often are.

Instead, it was honest. It was unapologetic. And it was about time.

At 73, Ronstadt, who is suffering from a condition similar to Parkinson's disease and retired in 2011, can no longer sing. But she has not lost her voice. That Pompeo told the crowd he was "a big fan of Linda Ronstadt ... an icon of folk and country music" did not matter to her. What did? Speaking her truth.

Her boldness may come with age, which for many can carry with it a "nothing to lose" mentality. Or it may come with the knowledge of her own power, which at this point in her life is no longer derived from pleasing others. She was not there for his, or anyone's, praise. Her career no longer depends on that.

The fear of alienating audiences, or of being "unlikable" in any way, is perhaps why more female celebrities aren't similarly bold. Although a few of Ronstadt's younger, female contemporaries have spoken out against Trump — including Adele and Rihanna, who both refused to let Trump use their songs during campaigning and endorsed Hillary Clinton — famous women are, for the most part, still expected to be polite, pretty, grateful for what they are given, and always occasion-appropriate. That's one reason it took pop star Taylor Swift so long to voice her political opinion.

But while Ronstadt has always been known in the industry as being "difficult" simply because she did what she wanted and not what others expected, she has now earned the right to speak her mind wherever and whenever she wants — without fear of industry blowback and without concern for being a "likeable" lady.

Certainly, she benefited from the fact that the public is likely to be more open to hearing such remarks from a person who speaks from time, experience and perspective — one advantage older female celebrities may have over their younger counterparts. But one lesson anyone of any age, gender or level of fame can take from Ronstadt's bold statement is that the more women use their voices, and speak their minds, the more likely doing so will become the expectation, and not the exception.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 514171

Reported Deaths: 10285
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34920557
DeSoto33270432
Hinds32652642
Jackson24876391
Rankin22516404
Lee16366245
Madison14932283
Jones14129247
Forrest13785260
Lauderdale12279324
Lowndes11314193
Lamar10663140
Pearl River9720244
Lafayette8855143
Hancock7839132
Washington7553169
Oktibbeha7216138
Monroe7036179
Pontotoc7003109
Warren6872178
Panola6768135
Neshoba6732210
Marshall6686142
Bolivar6451151
Union640898
Pike5933156
Alcorn5887107
Lincoln5533136
George510380
Prentiss505385
Tippah492783
Itawamba4857107
Scott478199
Adams4771125
Tate4765117
Leflore4736144
Copiah457095
Yazoo456692
Simpson4554117
Wayne443172
Covington434695
Sunflower4315106
Marion4279112
Coahoma4238109
Leake414090
Newton395782
Tishomingo384894
Grenada3777109
Stone365766
Jasper340866
Attala338790
Winston317892
Chickasaw316167
Clay312578
Clarke301295
Calhoun285949
Holmes271889
Smith269452
Yalobusha244247
Tallahatchie232053
Greene224749
Walthall221866
Lawrence219141
Perry213456
Amite209857
Webster206248
Noxubee188743
Montgomery181857
Carroll174941
Jefferson Davis173843
Tunica163339
Benton153139
Kemper145041
Choctaw136727
Claiborne134439
Humphreys132139
Franklin126029
Quitman107628
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845761

Reported Deaths: 16119
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161862004
Mobile742411381
Madison53315732
Shelby38351369
Baldwin38104589
Tuscaloosa36052641
Montgomery34492781
Lee25590263
Calhoun22598518
Morgan22459406
Etowah20026518
Marshall18790316
Houston17741425
St. Clair16904358
Limestone16153219
Cullman16067303
Elmore15912294
Lauderdale14991306
Talladega14209299
DeKalb12985269
Walker12067380
Blount10729192
Autauga10526157
Jackson10170194
Coffee9425192
Colbert9341208
Dale9024192
Tallapoosa7273201
Russell708865
Chilton7042170
Escambia6956143
Covington6943195
Franklin6338108
Chambers5785142
Marion5413130
Dallas5295209
Pike5123109
Clarke484886
Lawrence4831129
Winston4780110
Geneva4643136
Bibb434594
Barbour369980
Butler3439100
Marengo342393
Monroe337466
Randolph334867
Pickens333988
Fayette330085
Henry320766
Hale318489
Cherokee318363
Crenshaw260777
Washington256952
Cleburne254560
Lamar251953
Clay251169
Macon245064
Conecuh193162
Coosa185547
Lowndes178268
Wilcox177638
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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