Country star Hank Williams Jr. spent Monday afternoon in damage-control mode, backtracking from statements he made that morning in which he compared President Obama to reviled Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. The comments got Williams’ traditional “Monday Night Football” opening song, with its famous “Are you ready for some football?” refrain, yanked from the night’s Indianapolis/Tampa Bay game.
“Some of us have strong opinions and are often misunderstood,” Williams said in a statement released Monday afternoon. “My analogy was extreme — but it was to make a point.”
On Monday morning, Williams appeared on Fox News and referred to Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner’s June golf outing with Obama as one of the “biggest political mistakes ever” by the Ohio politician.
“It’s like Hitler playing golf with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu,” the country singer said of the bipartisan golf game. The hosts of the conservative network’s “Fox & Friends” morning program seemed surprised by the comment, with co-anchor Gretchen Carlson asking Williams to clarify what he meant by the inflammatory statement, saying, “You used the name of one of the most-hated people in all the world to describe, I think, the president.”
Williams responded, “That’s true … but I’m telling you like it is.”
In his follow-up statement, posted on his website, Williams explained his sentiments on the Obama/Boehner pairing: “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,” he said. “They don’t see eye-to-eye and never will. I have always respected the office of the President.”
ESPN announced that it was dropping Williams’ theme song from Monday night’s program but didn’t say whether it would re-appear at a later date. “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,’ ” the network said in a statement. “We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result, we have decided to pull the open from tonight’s telecast.”
Roots drummer ?uestlove commented on the flap on Twitter, writing, “Every ‘HITLER’ outburst i hear in the news shows me that people in fact do NOT know the evil Hitler committed … I’m borderline certain those who are (NOW) quick to use HITLER so carelessly, were probably part of the ’60 years ago never happened’ crew.”