by Justin Baragona
November 6, 2014
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Apparently, openly criticizing and taking shots at a sitting president is now completely OK in the hyper-patriotic country music scene. More than a decade after the Dixie Chicks were ostracized and skewered by America-loving country artists and audiences, two popular country singers drew cheers from the audience at the Country Music Awards by making jokes at the president’s expense and blaming Democrats’ loss of the Senate majority directly on President Obama. This was actually the second straight year that Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley used their hosting duties at the CMA’s to attack Obama.
During a dialogue segment at the CMA’s Wednesday night, Paisley and Underwood were discussing Underwood’s pregnancy. Paisley made a crack saying President Obama does not care about “postpartum Taylor Swift disorder.” Underwood then followed up saying that she was “pretty sure that’s why the Democrats lost the Senate.” Underwood and Paisley then paused and allowed the audience to erupt in applause over that line, obviously knowing the extremely partisan crowd would be delighted over that comment.
As stated before, this isn’t the first time the president has been used as the butt of jokes at the CMA’s by this same duo. Last year, Underwood and Paisley took shots at the president and Obamacare in an extended segment on the show. Underwood mocked the well-publicized website glitches that plagued healthcare.gov in its early weeks while also ridiculing the law and president in general.
Political humor is fine. Late-night talk show hosts and sketch comedy series make their living off of trashing politicians, left and right. There is nothing really wrong with taking a stand for your beliefs if you are an entertainer. At the same time, you should be prepared for criticism. (For the record, Paisley has expressed his support for Obama in the past.)
However, the country music world took a stand in 2003 when the Dixie Chicks commented at a concert that they were ashamed then-President George W. Bush was from the state of Texas. Immediately afterward, the band members were called traitors and un-American for criticizing a sitting president, especially during a period of unrest and inevitable war. (A war that Bush and Co. needlessly started, but I digress.) The main criticism that came the Dixie Chicks’ way from their peers, country music audiences and conservatives was that it was not patriotic and downright treasonous to take shots at the president.
Meanwhile, a black Democrat now occupies the White House. Even though the country has been involved in at least one war the entire time Obama has been in office, and we’ve been told that ISIS and the Ebola virus are ‘imminent’ threats to American citizens, we no longer hear those same cries of patriotism and ‘America first’ that we did last decade. It is a classic case of IOKIYAR [It's okay if you're a republican]. When you are on national television in front of an almost exclusively white live audience that is largely Republican, it is perfectly fine to rip the commander-in-chief, especially if he’s a black man with a foreign-sounding name.