There is plenty of "classical" music based on the "American" experience. While the letter didn't mention any of those composers (Copland, Ives, Adams, Carter) they are certainly out there and deserve mention. Some of those "dead white male Europeans" spent time here, and wrote music based on their experience (Dvorak and Stravinsky come to mind).As if Americans--Barack Obama in particular--should be supporting Dead White Male European Culture music endorsed by Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin instead of music based in the American experience.
If you are a Boomer or younger and you hate rock, soul, blues and jazz, why are you a prematurely senile traitor to your generation?
Were there some composers that were heralded by evil people? Yes, Hitler was fond of Wagner. The Soviets had their favorites. That doesn't detract from the fact that they wrote INCREDIBLE music.
In addition, Classical music provided (and still does) provide the roots upon which most modern music is built. An appreciation and elementary understanding of classical music can deepen one's appreciation of today's music.
Classical music and popular music (rock, soul, blues, jazz, etc.) are not mutually exclusive. Many of us enjoy and appreciate both. Perhaps our candidates DO enjoy it, but felt the need to include more "popular" selections in order to seem like they are "in touch" with "the people." If that is the case, I'm even more depressed than if they don't have classical music on their iPods at all.