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Tag: Hank Williams Jr.

The Critical Mass

The party of Norris, Lovitz, Stein, Nugent and Williams Jr.

I see that the Republican Party has evolved into a homeless shelter for washed-up entertainers.

Despite his much-discussed conversation with an empty chair at the Republican National Convention, we’ll leave Clint Eastwood out of this argument. He’s 82 and I can overlook a few late-season errors, because his spaghetti westerns, Play Misty For Me, Bird, and even a couple of those later movies – Gran Torino and the two Iwo Jima films – were quite thoughtful. Also, I was raised by a cranky old man. I get it.

Chuck Norris has no excuses. He’s a D-minus karate actor used as a stooge by both the Huckabee and Gingrich campaigns, which had him stand behind their dubious candidates like a cardboard cutout, nodding his head in agreement to their strange visions.

Norris and his wife, Gena, have just put up an anti-Obama video on YouTube. At one point, Gena quotes Ronald Reagan circa 1964, back when that faded actor was throwing his support behind Barry Goldwater for president:  “You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into 1,000 years of darkness.” A victim of typecasting to the end, Norris stands beside his wife, nodding his head in agreement with this strange vision. He’s thinking maybe he can land a bit role in this new prequel he’s just heard about, Lord of the Rings: 1,000 Years of Darkness.

Jon Lovitz called Obama a “fucking asshole” on a podcast because the comedian doesn’t agree with the president’s tax policy. Then he refused to apologize, despite heavy criticism, because Obama’s “not king.” In a talk-show appearance later with another former Saturday Night Live Star, Dana Carvey, the two over-the-horizon stars commiserated on what a terrible world we now live in, a world where a comedian can’t crack a joke at the president’s expense. Neither acknowledged this obvious fact: If they want to earn a laugh, the joke has to be funny.

Ben Stein, the monotone actor, has resurrected his profile as a conservative commentator. At least he’s not a newcomer: He was a speech writer for Nixon. Stein’s schtick is arguing on behalf of dismissed ideologies, including creationism. He co-wrote and starred in a documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, that claims a belief in evolution may have led to the Holocaust. Really.

Ted Nugent. No one listens to his music anymore. So he screams for attention like a petulant child, threatening Obama and writing essays for a conservative newspaper, The Washington Times, that are filled with fact errors and distortions. He even went on Fox News’ Your World With Neil Cavuto a few years ago and lied about a conversation that he had with me. With me!

Hank Williams Jr., a continuing embarrassment to a great legacy, was at it again this week.“We’ve got a Muslim for a President who hates cowboys, hates cowgirls, hates fishing, hates farming, loves gays, and we hate him!” the country singer told a crowd  in Fort Worth, Texas. People cheered, some guy in the front waved a Confederate battle flag.

Williams’ words inspired an awesome Tweet by the actor Alec Baldwin. “If Hank Williams Jr wasn’t such a pathetic, wheezing fossil I’d have a talk with him. I think we need to call Hank Williams Jr what he is…. A broken-down, senile, racist coot.”

Get used to it. The party of Lincoln is now the party of Norris, Lovitz, Stein, Nugent and Williams Jr.

The Critical Mass

Are you ready for an ignorant redneck?

I was talking with the writer David Sedaris Tuesday evening – that’s right, I hang with all the cool kids – and the subject of Hank Williams Jr. came up. “I read the transcript of that interview,” Sedaris said. “Was he drunk?”

If Williams wasn’t, he probably is now. You’re probably familiar with the story. The supremely untalented country performer (His daddy, Hank Sr., and son, Hank III, prove the old adage that talent skips a generation) is best known as the guy who sings the theme song for Monday Night Football. During a Monday morning interview on the morning TV bullshit-news show Fox & Friends, Williams made an incomprehensible comparison of Barack Obama and Adolf Hitler. Host Brian Kilmeade said he didn’t understand the analogy. “I’m glad you don’t brother, because a lot of people do,” Williams roared, the epitome of white trash ignorance. “They’re the enemy. Obama! And Biden! Are you kidding? The Three Stooges.”

We now know two things. One, Williams can’t count. And two, he’s unemployed. We’ll never again hear Williams bellowing: “Are you ready for some football!” ESPN has dropped its association with this extraordinarily unlikeable creature. I doubt even Dancing With the Stars would touch him now.

Like another washed-up musician who comes to mind, Ted Nugent, Williams evidently fancies himself as a conservative political pundit. No one’s buying the records, might as well say something stupid to draw attention to yourself. Williams tried out for the position in 2008, during appearances with Sarah Palin during her run with John McCain, in their attempt to turn this country into something very unfortunate. He crow-barring “Left-wing liberal media” into a song lyric  in a song called “McCain-Palin Tradition,” which he debuted while on tour with the Republican presidential ticket. Gershwin it wasn’t. “The Democrats bankrupted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac just like one, two, three,” Junior crooned, again showing math isn’t his strong suit, before going for the slanderous talking point that I’m astonished was missed by the Grammy nominations committee: “They don’t have terrorist friends to whom their careers are linked.”

So we’ve been here before, haven’t we, Mr. Williams? He did make a half-hearted attempt to salvage the Monday Night Football situation. First, Williams blamed you. “Some of us have strong opinions and are often misunderstood,” he wrote on his web site. I don’t think there was any misunderstanding. A difference in political viewpoints is not equivalent with the Holocaust and plunging the planet into a world war. 

Then, Williams tried directing attention away from what he’d done by attacking convenient targets, the media and politicians. “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… 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.”

And finally, he wrote, “I am very sorry if it offended anyone. I would like to thank all my supporters. This was not written by some publicist.” That is the classic non-apology apology. He is sorry if he offended anyone. He himself is not sorry. He is not wrong. He wouldn’t want to alienate his base, the racist and extremist Tea Party people who support these kinds of unhinged comments.    

 When the news broke about ESPN’s final decision, a few days after the initial suspension, Williams quickly responded that it was his decision, not the sports network’s, with this note on his web site:

After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision. By pulling my opening Oct. 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment Freedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE. It’s been a great run.

Apology no longer necessary, he says. Suddenly, it’s a First Amendment issue.

 Back to Sedaris. He was born in Binghamton and raised in North Carolina, but now splits his time living in homes in Paris and just outside of London. Being in Europe, Sedaris said, gives him a unique perspective on what’s going on in this country. He’s shocked by the anger, the uncivil discourse. “America,” Sedaris said, “feels like one overwhelming tidal wave of hatred.”

“But that’s also what it feels like from here,” I replied.

“It looks even worse,” Sedaris said, “from over here.”

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