Right-wing country singer Lee Greenwood has served on the National Council on the Arts since the George W. Bush administration, and some right-wing activists and media outlets seem to think he has a right to a lifetime position. Greenwood, who is best known for his 1984 song “God Bless The USA,” was reportedly notified last week that President Joe Biden was nominating eight people to the National Council on the Arts, and that one of them, theater director Kamilah Forbes, would replace Greenwood, whose term expired in 2014. The new nominees were first announced by the White House in June.
While “Fox & Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt claimed that Greenwood had held the seat for 20 years, he was first appointed to a six-year term in 2008 by then-President George W. Bush. He continued to serve on the council throughout the Obama and Trump administrations.
Greenwood, who said he was quite hurt that he had been notified of Biden’s decision via email, complained last week to more than one Newsmax host, saying that it was “obvious” that the Biden administration is “cleaning house” and “getting rid of all conservatives in the government.” Last Thursday, “Fox & Friends” gave Greenwood a platform, which he used to complain that Biden has “fired the patriot” as part of the administration “clearing house.”
“You know, what’s interesting is when he was elected, he said he wanted to unite our country,” Earhardt said somberly. “Your song united us during 9/11 and has ever since. What’s more unifying than that song?”
In reality, Greenwood’s song has long been deployed as a partisan anthem by conservative politicians, from Ronald Reagan playing it at the Republican National Convention in 1984 to former President Donald Trump frequently playing it at his campaign rallies. Greenwood has said he didn’t want the song to be seen as political, but he performed it as part of Trump’s inaugural celebrations, as he did for three other Republican presidents, Reagan and both Bushes. Greenwood performed at a Trump campaign rally as recently as October 2020.
Right-wing activists seemed eager to make Greenwood’s replacement after more than a decade on the council somehow emblematic of the conservative persecution narrative they have been peddling. Longtime right-wing activist Gary Bauer complained in his Campaign for Working Families newsletter that “Greenwood has two targets on his back,” claiming, “Not only was he appointed by a Republican president, his anthem is pro-American and anti-globalist. And Joe Biden and his party are all in for globalism.”
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel also chimed in on the decision, tweeting, “Lee Greenwood wrote ‘God Bless the USA.’ Now Biden wants him canceled, too. So much for uniting the country.”
Former GOP Alabama state legislator Perry Hooper, who is chairing an upcoming dinner in Greenwood’s honor, called the change “disgusting,” telling the Alabama Political Reporter, “I guess there is no room for a true American Patriot in Joe Biden’s world.”