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Posted at 11:42 AM ET, 10/04/2011

Hank Williams, Jr., golfing with Hitler


A good rock spoiled. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (Carolyn Kaster - AP)
I was golfing with Hitler and Prime Minister Netanyahu the other day when I got the news that ESPN had fired dropped Hank Williams, Jr.

“The Are You Ready for Some Football guy?” I said. “What on earth for?”

Hitler and Bibi shared a meaningful look.

“You really don’t know, do you?” they asked.

It’s another tea-cup-sized tempest.

After Williams, Jr., suggested on Fox News that Barack Obama and John Boehner golfing while jobs burned was akin to Hitler golfing with Bibi Netanyahu, a Fuhrer furor broke loose. Clearly, he failed to read my chart.

But why on earth do we care? Sure, it’s a free country, until you run up against Godwin’s Law (first to compare his opponent to Hitler loses the argument). But more broadly, why do we care whether the guy who asks us if we’re ready for football is prone to making absurd comparisons?

ESPN was wrong to fire drop Hank Williams, Jr. This whole absurd saga epitomizes everything that is wrong with current commentator culture. It’s as ridiculous as — but there Hitler cuts me off from making any hasty comparisons, and Netanyahu seems to think that he is right in doing so.

I don’t want Hank Williams, Jr.’s opinion on whether or not the president and speaker ought to be golfing. I want his opinion on whether it’s football time or not. Never mind the Hitler metaphors.

Only in America, today, can you go from a guy who brings a lot of people a moderate amount of pleasure by doing something moderately well, to jobless losing a gig because someone got you to share an opinion that nobody wanted to hear. This is like when they fired the Aflac duck for making unfunny tsunami jokes.

I understand that there were mitigating circumstances: he was on Fox News, after all. Nothing gives you a stronger urge to make bold, ill-advised statements like being placed in front of a microphone and told that it is off — or on. Petri’s Law states that anyone, if allowed to talk long enough without interruption, will make a career-ending gaffe. That is why it generally behooves us to keep our opinions to ourselves, especially when our real forte is in asking people if it is football time or not. I don’t know if Williams realized this, but this is not a unique skill, and in these tough economic times you should cling to your job with claws of iron.

I don’t care what he thinks about politics. Is it time for football?

And his apology was even worse. It’s as though he got his pointers on apologies from the Netflix CEO. If that’s an apology, I’ll eat my weight in goslings.

Before this uproar, he was thinking of running for US Senate in the state of Tennessee. Now he has no job lost a good gig, so that may be his only next best option. As though he hadn’t done enough damage already!

Still it’s an oddly potent image. There’s something about golf. It’s the pastime of those with nothing better to do than care about their handicaps. It is a good walk spoiled. It is a sport that requires you to maintain a zenlike calm while hitting something with an iron club. The something is white, pimply, and elusive.

As a political metaphor it leaves much to be desired. You are supposed to keep your eye on the ball, but sometimes you find yourself in sandy regions from which it is difficult to extricate yourself, and you are not allowed to bring in any drones. It requires you to dress like you fell out of a Skymall catalogue, and people do it on business trips for fun. In general, the only people who really seem to get a kick out of it are white and near death.

Contrast this to football, where only one or two people seem to have any handle on where things are going at any given time, and everyone else spends the whole time running into each other, grunting, and causing brain damage.

Lost in thought, I turned around to find Hitler and Bibi glowering at me and practicing chip shots into the distance.“Focus on keeping your head level,” Netanyahu was telling the Fuhrer.

Level heads. No wonder golf’s so bad for politics. Is it time for football?

By  |  11:42 AM ET, 10/04/2011

 
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