For those, like me, expecting to see Hank Williams belt out his “Are You Ready for Some Football?” song, the title of which is “All My Rowdy Friends,” there was a surprise awaiting them before Monday Night Football on ESPN last night – no Hank Williams. Why? He’s been doing it for 20 years. He’s a fixture. What gives?
Well, ole Hank, a long-standing Obama foe and one-time supporter of McCain and Palin, appeared on Fox and Friends Monday morning and compared President Barack Obama to Hitler:
As the Baltimore Sun headline put it: “Are you ready for some backlash?”
ESPN had this to say:
“While Hank Williams, Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize that he is closely linked to our company through the open to Monday Night Football. We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result we have decided to pull the open from tonight’s telecast.”
Williams, after the fact, claimed no harm, no foul; he had this to say:
“Some of us have strong opinions and are often misunderstood. My analogy was extreme — but it was to make a point. I was simply trying to explain how stupid it seemed to me — how ludicrous that pairing was. They’re polar opposites and it made no sense. They don’t see eye-to-eye and never will. I have always respected the office of the president.”
He went on to say,
“Every time the media brings up the tea party it’s painted as racist and extremists — but there’s never a backlash — no outrage to those comparisons,” Williams said. “Working class people are hurting — and it doesn’t seem like anybody cares. When both sides are high-fiving it on the ninth hole when everybody else is without a job – it makes a whole lot of us angry. Something has to change. The policies have to change.”
It makes you wonder if ole Hank has actually seen a Tea Party rally.
But if you listen to Williams, his explanation doesn’t seem to hold water – he said exactly what he meant to say and we understood him perfectly well.
This is what he said to “Fox and Friends” – that for him Speaker of the House John Boehner playing golf with President Obama “would be like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu … In the shape this country is in?”
Anchor Brian Kilmeade, apparently playing the straight man here, told ole Hank that he didn’t understand the analogy, setting the country star up to either hang himself or slip out of the noose. So what does Williams do? He doubles down:
“I’m glad you don’t, brother, because a lot of people do. They’re the enemy.”
The noose tightens. Who is the enemy? Fox and Friends wanted to know. Williams said:
“Obama. And Biden. Are you kidding? The Three Stooges.”
It seemed pretty clear at that point that Williams was serious, but he took the opportunity to really, really make his point clear when, later in the show, Gretchen Carlson said to Williams that he had used the name of one of history’s most hated men to describe the President. Jumping off the gallows, ole Hank replied,
“Well that’s true. But I’m telling you like it is.”
Williams will, he says, be running for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee in 2012. There he can sound like any dozen other random rabble-rousing Tea Partiers.
As David Zuwarik wrote in the Baltimore Sun,
Williams is not schooled in TV politics talk, and should have never waded into those treacherous waters. He also seems to think he is some kind of teller of homespun truths, when in fact, he seems to have a head full of strong opinions and mush. The one thing I do know: Political opportunists are going to pound this guy into sawdust in coming days.
That seems certain. What is not certain is whether Williams was only temporarily benched for his infraction or whether or not his banishment will be permanent.
Update: Hank Williams offered up a second apology after his first non-apology apology didn’t go over so well. Williams said in a statement, “I have always been very passionate about Politics and Sports and this time it got the Best or Worst of me. The thought of the Leaders of both Parties Jukin and High Fiven on a Golf course, while so many Families are Struggling to get by simply made me Boil over and make a Dumb statement and I am very Sorry if it Offended anyone. I would like to Thank all my supporters. This was Not written by some Publicist.”