Hypocrisy at its finest?
By Jake Vigliotti
October 26, 2007
When I was working dual jobs in Tuscaloosa, AL – at a radio station (“Star 101.7”) and a TV station (WCFT) - we made a little joke on-air at the radio station about my co-worker at the TV station, Dave Baird. I had (and still have) great respect for Mr. Baird not only as a reporter, but as one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met in my life. I told him that evening that we joked a bit about him that morning on the radio show – mainly out of respect. I’ll never forget his response.
“I don’t care what you guys say about me,” he said laughing. “As long as you pronounce my name right, say what you want.” He laughed a bit more and added a quick caveat with a smile: “Just don’t put words in my mouth.”
Dave Baird was referring broadly to something that occurs every day. How many examples can you think of where someone’s alleged thoughts are seen as truth? I could list examples, but you’d spend the rest of this column reading virtually every news item from the past 8 years. Democrat/Republican, pro-this/anti-that, it doesn’t matter, nothing is easier in American society then to pigeonhole someone’s views based on speculation. And it’s now happening to the frontman of the DMB.
It’s been said aloud, posted in threads, and whispered by both Lefties and Righties: How much of a hypocrite is Dave Matthews for playing a concert at a Military academy, given his views?
I wish there was a proper way to express in writing a spit-take.
In other words, what the Hell are you people talking about?
I’ll be the first person to say that, to me, the statement “Support the Troops, not the war” makes about as much sense as “I don’t support China’s human rights violations, but I’m for inexpensive products!” Or, as Homer Simpson said, “I don’t support (Sideshow Bob’s) Bart-killing policy, but I do support his Selma-killing policy”. However, to classify Dave Matthews as a basher of the war is overbroad and his support of the troops overseas far exceeds any other artist in a similar situation as he.
Far be it for some facts to get in the way of a little anger, but let’s take a little trip in the way-back machine and figure out what Matthews has said.
Prior to the Iraq war, Matthews took umbrage with the decision for war reasoning that there was an ulterior motive for the war (“…for oil.”) Conspiracy wackos aside, if this war is for oil, it must’ve been a war to keep oil out of the US. I filled up with gas the day the US took Baghdad for .97 cents. This morning it was $2.78. But aside from that, Matthews made no grand statements critical of US policy.
In fact, Dave was on tour with Tim Reynolds in 2003 during the beginning of combat operations, and expressed concern for the troops during those shows. Even from the beginning of the Iraq War, Dave was for the troops. It’s easy to chalk that up to some happy-talk in between songs that’s meaningless, but future episodes will establish the sincerity of these mentions.
Fastforward to 2004. Dave decides the best candidate to lead the US in the presidential election is a Democrat. Most shocking news since Michael Jackson admitted he had plastic surgery, yes. Dave takes a few shots at President Bush in Rolling Stone – a former music magazine and now liberal hatchet-job-required-reading - that now make him sound like a Republican (he implied that he could do a better job than Bush – which sounds like every conservative talk show host in America). Yet again, nothing about troops, wishing for losses in Iraq, pulling for the insurgency; nothing. Sure the DMB did the pro-Kerry fundraiser tour (disguised as a Vote For Change tour), but even as something as obvious as that, Dave refused to come out and stump for Kerry. He encouraged people to vote regardless of their choice, or his. Here Dave is establishing that he is not the personification of the Matt Damon character in Team America - this is a guy who says and does what he wants, regardless of what other people around him are doing.
2006 – Dave sees some guys in military garb at a show and promptly dedicates the song a to them. He mentions the troops a few other times randomly prior to songs. This isn’t a publicity stunt (after all, DMB gets no publicity outside the fan-sites promoting them), and there was no Springsteen-like release to the media announcing that DMB would be positively mention US troops. It was just an honest reaction from a guy whose track-record established that an event like that could happen.
During the 2007 tour, we all heard the efforts that Dave has personally undertook to facilitate healthcare for injured vets back here in the states. Dave told the story a few times of a specific soldier and his issues, and Dave even did a news program in an attempt to get the word out.
For five years, Dave Matthews has been nothing but completely consistent in his public views: He is in complete support of the US troops in combat actions.
Starting to see how dangerous it is to put words in people’s mouths? Or thoughts? Just because Dave has a long track record of being a lefty, it doesn’t mean he took the insurgents on the money line at +230. Sure he thought the war was a bad idea, but clearly his statements and actions show he has the utmost support for the American Troops. I hate to use the cheesy cliché, but people jumping DMB over their concert at West Point aren’t judging the book by its cover, they’re burning it.
This isn’t a Sheryl Crow case (remember she wore the ‘no war’ shirt yet played for troops during the Bosnian exercise under a different President). Dave Matthews opinions are unchanged since 2003. In fact, I’m kind of upset that West Point won the Pep Rally contest; they deserve a concert regardless of some silly contest. In fact, if the good folks with the mgmt company would get around to returning my emails, I’d highly suggest that the DMB play a few shows in Annapolis and Colorado Springs for the boys who play with boats and planes.
You can say a lot of things about Dave Matthews, and the DMB as a whole. But hypocrites, they ain’t.
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