omments by conservative gun activist, rock guitarist, and Mitt Romney backer Ted Nugent at last weekend's National Rifle Association convention are getting a lot of attention from Democrats, from pundits, and even from the Secret Service. "If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year," Nugent said, adding that the Obama administration is "vile, evil," and prone to "wiping its ass with the Constitution." After prodding from Democrats, Romney's campaign responded to Nugent's remarks by urging civility and criticizing "divisive language... no matter what side of the political aisle it comes from." But given that Romney actively sought Nugent's endorsement, is there a risk that the aging rocker's inflammatory language could haunt the presumptive GOP nominee?
Yes, unless Romney disavows Nugent: Team Romney's "non-denunciation denunciation" of Nugent's "violent anti-Obama rhetoric" is so weak it makes Romney look like a "spineless political jellyfish," says Joe Gandelman in The Moderate Voice. That alone is a strike against sending Romney to the White House, but his continuing embrace of a "foot-in-mouth rhetorical demonizer" like Nugent will also "further hurt him with independent voters who hate polarizing talk-radio-style speech."
"Romney... non-denunciation denunciation of Nugent's violent anti-Obama rhetoric"
Nugent didn't say anything wrong: I don't get what's so "hair on fire" awful about Nugent's remarks, says Bryan Preston at Pajamas Media. The whole "jail or dead part may be a bit on the paranoid side," but in context it's clear that he's saying that he "expects Obama to come after guns if he wins a second term." That's not only conventional wisdom at NRA conventions, but it happens to be true that "Obama is a threat to the Second Amendment" because he is "working on gun control 'under the radar.'"
"Did Ted Nugent really threaten the president?"
The best course is to ignore Nugent and his ilk: The Nuge is trying to be outrageous and offensive, in a desperate and "nutty shot at relevance," says Charles Ellison in Politics 365. And fair or not, such "unpredictable surrogates dancing to their own tune will end up hurting the candidates" they support. But if we make Romney and Obama answer for every self-serving rhetorical bomb thrown by a "forgotten rocker or balding real estate mogul," we're in for a long, content-free election.
"Ted Nugent, the Secret Service and a nutty shot at relevance"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why China's Communist Party is headed for collapse
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why Texas Republicans may want to cool the anti-Obama land-grab talk
- Why the poor's investment of choice is so alarming
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- How to make perfect fried rice in 6 easy steps
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Obama doesn't have a manhood problem — but conservatives certainly do
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- Why we need a maximum wage
Subscribe to the Week