Because apparently it’s what one does on a blog, I feel the need to comment on the political story of the day. Plus, this particular story deals with two of my favorite things after political science: football and country music. So, for those who haven’t heard the story, Hank Williams, Jr. was dropped from Monday Night Football because he compared Obama to Hitler. For a more interesting take on this than “here’s what he said,” check out Slate’s Explainer column for today here.
Couple of things. Not to defend Hank Williams, Jr. (his political opinions or his music), but what he was seemed to be trying to say was that Obama and Boehner are such ideological opposites that any meeting between them is a fruitless photo-op. Unfortunately, Williams seems to place Obama in the role of Hilter which is, well, stupid. Points for knowing Netanyahu though. Hank is actually dancing around an interesting political point – how do leaders govern when their parties/coalitions are so far apart ideologically? – but seems to be doing that despite himself rather than on purpose. Godwin’s law is irrefutable apparently off the Internet as well.
Secondly, and this is a particular beef of mine, why does any self-respecting news program (and I realize it’s a stretch to call anything on Fox News that) care what Hank Williams, Jr. thinks? This is the same man who wrote a song called “The Coalition to Ban Coalitions,” which was as politically tone-deaf as it was literally tone-deaf. Case in point, has anyone ever actually advocated using the apparatus of the state to “get rid of electric guitars”? Plus, even a brief thought would cause one to wonder how you could reconcile representative government with violating the right to peaceably assemble. Anyway, celebrities, and I suppose Hank qualifies, are obviously entitled to whatever political opinions they see fit to hold, but why is the news station giving this guy’s (seriously, this guy) opinion a platform? If he’s got an opinion, let’em get a Twitter feed.
Last but not least, the quick reaction by ESPN makes me wonder if his departure had not been previously contemplated by the network, who jumped on the opportunity to make it his fault through a boneheaded comment about politics. Personally, I’m sort of obsessed with the history of country music, and Hank Williams, Jr. is an unfortunate musical footnote. It’s as if he took the worst parts of David Allen Coe (self-entitlement, rascism, faux nostalgia), filtered it through Waylon Jennings, and then borrowed Ray Wylie Hubbard’s stage act. That said, if you’re trying to connect with a modern audience, Hank Williams, Jr. probably isn’t getting you anyone who wasn’t already watching the game to begin with.
All in all, it’s exactly the sort of ridiculous news story that you need to fill a 24 hr news cycle. Take aways: the comment was silly, Hank Williams Jr. isn’t a very good country singer, and ESPN might have been thinking of dropping him anyway.