Mitt Romney sought and won the endorsement of 1970’s second-tier Rocker Ted Nugent at the NRA National Convention in St. Louis this week. Think of this again: Mitt Romney sought the support of this guy. It was not the other way around. And he got it, and he still has it and has no problems with it.
In a long rant at convention goers two days ago Nugent said he “either would be dead or in jail at this time next year if Obama is re-elected.” He then directly challenged the manhood of the men in the audience, demanding they step up this fall in the election campaign and “rip the heads off Democrats.”
Romney Campaign Spokeswoman Andrea Saul labeled Nugent’s speech as “offensive” but declined to condemn Nugent himself. Romney has not come forward to publicly denounce the man whose endorsement he sought and got just days ago.
Nugent yesterday did not apologize for his words but reiterated them on Right-wing radio host Dana Loesch’s talk show. He went on to label House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as “a sub-human scoundrel” remarking further that “varmints are sometimes clever.” DNC Chair and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was judged by Nugent a “brain-dead soulless idiot.” So much for civility in political discourse.
Last week, Congressman Allen West charged that up to 81 members of the United States Congress now sitting were not just Democrats but communists. And he meant what he said and has not backtracked on it.
The great contrast that can be drawn here is that the race for the open seat left by Congresswoman Gabby Giffords is heating up and a Tea Party candidate holds the lead. The Democrats do have one candidate who is polling well, Congresswoman Gifford’s most senior aide. We have distressingly returned to the environment of inadvertent targets over Democratic Congressional members on a U.S. map that the Palin Campaign used to employ. Gifford’s office was firebombed before her shooting. No connection to the shooter, who acted out of madness not politics. But the same political witches brew is once again heating up. The climate we have when so many people are inciting others to acts of violence for their political ends and demonizing those they disagree with can lead to people taking them at their word and acting with violence.
The Secret Service did confirm that they were looking into Nugent’s comments as they routinely do. One wonders what they will think about how routine this is now when Nugent repeated all his incendiary remarks on the Loesch radio program and added still more to two sitting members of Congress. Nugent has not qualified his statemenets at all and wants them taken at face value.
Reducing Nancy Pelosi, and by easy extension, Democrats to the “sub-human” level is what nation’s at war do first with their enemies prior to killing them. This nation is at war and it is fast moving away from the simply rhetorical. Even Mitt Romney was unable to be civil this week telling the President of the United States to “start packing.” What might a Romneyu-Obama debate look like?
Is the 2012 election campaign to be the active use of Second Amendment Remedies? Let’s hope not. This piece is not the expression of outrage at Republican political leaders. Yes Nugent is one, having run for Mayor of Detroit.
Instead of outrage, Struggles for Justice must point out that the Republican Party is in serious trouble. We ought to be worried and sad over that. Most Republican voters are wonderful people, and they are as law-abiding as they come. Even they deserve far better than they are getting from their leaders in this campaign.
It is unfortunate, but the Secret Service ought to calmly investigate the Nugent episodes and if they find his speech to be inciting riot or revolution using violence against the President and the rest of the government, his remarks ought to be taken seriously, and he ought to be prosecuted. Nugent had every opportunity to say his vehement opposition to President Obama was not violent and that it was dangerous to speak the way he did at a National Rifle Association Convention where even the NRA deserves better than that and where the context for such speech actually surpasses the old standard once uttered in a supreme court decision limiting our extensive rights of free speech where we are told you “cannot yell fire in a crowded theater.”
We all know how offensive Rush Limbaugh’s speech is. Dana Loesch said she wanted to drop her drawers and pee on the corpses of Afghan Taliban some months ago.
What is happening on the right regarding political speech? In these contexts, and with the actual words used, the misstatements of a Hillary Rosen pale into the insignificance they deserve. She did apologize and not double-down on her statement that Ann Romney had not worked a day in her life. Ann Romney did work hard to raise her sons. But we know what Rosen meant. Ann Romney had a lot of help. She has not had to combine work outside the home and child-raising. Thank God for that. Motherhood is very taxing even when it is not accompanied by another job.
Are we at war? Nugent’s comments would seem to suggest so. But that war would have to be one waged between Americans and not with any foreign power. One pundit commenting on Nugent and his ideas and words asked seriously whether or not the comments were in the context of the pre-Civil War era or afterward. And that they might indicate the re-emergence of the Civil War of 1861-65. Or is it to be a new civil war a la Syria or Libya?
We are a nation obsessed with guns and violence and killing. We love it. We cannot get enough of it. And so we are condemned to acts of shooting violence all over the United States. A post office here, a high school there, a convenience store somewhere else, and a university where thirty died and even a humble parking lot at a supermarket where a mild-mannered but principled woman was trying to meet the people she wanted to help. She was shot down for her trouble like a dog with a nut with a thirty round clip that was employed to good advantage not only to shoot her down and drastically change her life but to end the lives of more than half a dozen others and change other’s lives.
Ted Nugent’s incendiary comments at a gun convention in St. Louis further enflame those who are disposed to act with violence. Yes, the Secret Service ought to arrest and prosecute Nugent to the full extent of the law.