Entertainer feels heat after Hitler comparison

Once in a great while, far-right figures feel a little heat after pushing the rhetorical envelope too far.

The Hank Williams Jr. song that has opened Monday Night Football for 20 years was not part of the opening of this week’s Indianapolis-Tampa Bay game after Williams made controversial comments about President Barack Obama.

Williams compared Obama to Adolf Hitler on Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” show Monday morning.

ESPN, in a statement, said: “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.”

ESPN’s statement did not indicate whether the controversy would affect future broadcasts.

In case you missed it yesterday, Williams told Fox News yesterday that he was bothered by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) going golfing with President Obama because it was comparable to “Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu.”

In a statement yesterday, the country singer said he was only trying to “make a point” about the two being “polar opposites.”

That might be slightly less ridiculous had it not been for what else Williams said during the interview. When one of the co-hosts said he didn’t understand the Hitler analogy, Williams said Obama and Vice President Biden are “the enemy.” (He also said Obama and Biden are “the Three Stooges,” suggesting Williams isn’t great at counting to three, either.)

In the larger context, it’ll be interesting to compare the reactions to Williams’ remarks to that of the reaction to The Dixie Chicks’ criticism of George W. Bush.

You’ll recall, of course, that The Dixie Chicks told a concert audience in 2003 they are “ashamed” that the president came from Texas. The reaction from country music fans and the industry was intense — the group’s music was quickly banned from many radio stations; The Dixie Chicks faced death threats; and former fans organized events to destroy their CDs in public.

If it was unpatriotic to be ashamed of the president in 2003, what are those same folks saying in 2011 about an entertainer who considers the president “the enemy,” on par with Hitler?

Williams, by the way, has talked about launching a U.S. Senate campaign in Tennessee next year, running as a Republican. While it’s unclear if he still harbors any such intentions, here’s hoping this incident doesn’t boost his standing in GOP circles.