At first glance it would seem that Bubba Watson and Ozzie Guillen would have little in common (except, perhaps, that each resides for at least part of the year in Florida). This weekend Watson won the Masters in typical Bubba roller coaster fashion, with a marvelous second shot on the second extra hole after his tee shot had placed him in the woods, where disaster loomed. This morning Guillen attempted to do the same thing at a news conference in Miami where he apologized profusely for comments he had made about Fidel Castro where he had expressed his admiration for the Cuban dictator, offending many Cuban Americans (including a good portion of the potential fan base for the Miami Marlins).
Watson’s heartwarming victory reminded many people that just months ago he had bought one of the General Lee cars used in the 1970s television show The Dukes of Hazzard … you know, the orange car bearing a Confederate battle flag on the roof. Watson (who, like me, lives in the Phoenix metropolitan area … he lives in Scottsdale, where he bought the General Lee at a car show) wanted to drive the car at Phoenix International Raceway, but NASCAR vetoed that, saying that it did not want to have a Confederate battle flag circling a racetrack prior to an event. As one might expect, this position drew fire from Confederate heritage advocates, many of who identified with Watson’s victory on Sunday. Fewer read what Watson said about the flag issue some time ago:
“Obviously, I don’t stand for the Confederate flag,” Watson said. “The Confederate flag was not used (in the show) for what people see it as today, so that’s sad. But NASCAR was built on moonshining, so the show was built on moonshining. I thought it was fun. I didn’t buy the car to get publicity; I bought it because I love it.”
That said, Watson also remarked several months ago that he’d “learned a lot about the history of the Confederate flag over the last few weeks.”
In short, Bubba learned something about history and Civil War memory.
Ozzie Guillen confessed at his press conference that he had learned a great deal about Fidel Castro over the past several days, and apologized for what he had said. You can see some of what he said here.
In short, two people in the public eye learned something about history. We’ll see how this turns out.