Are you ready for some football? Well, I am and so is just about every red-blooded American, but what we got last week was some petty tit-for-tat petty politics. Country-Western performer Hank Williams Jr. had the audacity to utter an unflattering personal opinion about "the Messiah". No, I'm not talking about Buddha, Jesus, or even Mohammad. I'm talking about Barrack Obama of course (well, isn’t that what he’s called?).
It seems that ole Hank doesn't like Obama's economic policies (referring to America as the “United Socialist States of America”), particularly in this case, his policy towards Israel. Williams commented on the Fox show Fox and Friends that he thought Obama playing golf with Israel's PM, Benjamin Netanyahu was the moral equivalent to Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu. The result was ESPN pulling Hank's signature theme "Are You Ready for Some Football" from its Monday Night Football game.
Now, I'm not going to get into whether Hank should have kept his mouth shut or not or if ESPN overreacted. Hank had a first amendment right to speak his mind, and ESPN had a right to speak theirs by yanking Hank’s song. But it's no secret that Obama has adopted a highly supportive Arabic/Moslem attitude, beginning with his presidential apology tour at the start of his term. Indeed, Obama has been doing some serious arm twisting on one of our best allies and the only democracy in the region. Perhaps if some other Israeli was prime minister, Israel may have cried "onkel" by now, but "Bibi" as he is known is no ordinary Israeli, or politician for that matter.
A conservative "take no prisoners" politician, Benjamin Netanyahu has proved to be one of the strongest leaders in the region, adding a strength of character that is badly needed in a hostile and unstable region. So, just who is this guy at the heart of the controversy?
Benjamin Netanyahu was born in Tel Aviv in 1949, the year after Israel’s creation. He attended high school in Philadelphia before returning to Israel. He served in the Sayeret Matka unit (reconnaissance and intelligence) of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). He served in War of Yom Kippur (both on the Suez and the Golan Heights) and took an active part in several hostage rescue missions, reaching the rank of Captain. Obviously, not faint of heart.
After his military service, he returned to the US to attend MIT and obtained a BA degree in architecture and later, obtained a MA degree from MIT’s Sloan School of Management as well as studied political science at Harvard University. Imagine a politician who is also a “thinker”!
He’s served on several peace delegations; UN Ambassador to Israel; and twice as Prime Minister, and these are just the high lights! Netanyahu is a member of the center right Likud political party (think moderate Republican). Like all of the Israel’s previous prime ministers, Netanyahu is committed friend of America.
On the other side of the coin, we have Barak Obama who has been “wishy washy” toward Israel at best while promoting a less the subtle pro-Arab foreign policy. He has more than once been critical of Israel’s need to security. Friendship is a two way street. Israel is not just our sole democratic friend in the region; it is the sole democratic country in the region! It provides critical stability in a part of the world where we and the West depend for our economic life blood --- oil. It is a valuable trade partner, especially in the areas of medical equipment and computer technology. Militarily, Israel provides not just a strategic base, but is the key partner in our intelligence gathering network (they had even warned the CIA of the 9/11 attacks several days before the event).
So, where does this leave us? Well, Hank got his signature song yanked from ESPN, but it is too imbedded in the American psyche to matter. ESPN is airing the National Anthem until they can find something to summon the America’s testosterone pool to the TV at 8:00 Mondays. In the end, Hank has a new song about the ballyhoo where he takes a well-earned swing at both sides entitled “I’ll keep my …”, so he’ll make out alright. Benjamin Netanyahu’s popularity has increased both here and at home. And Obama’s foreign policy looks like so much kiddie doodle. Meanwhile, me and my rowdy friends just wanna watch some football.