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Feb 27 2014

Wehner on Ted Nugent and the GOP

Pete Wehner, one of the most intelligent and reasonable conservatives around, writes in Commentary magazine about Republican politicians associating with Ted Nugent after all of the horrible, unconscionable things he’s said. He slams Ted Cruz, Greg Abbott and others pretty hard:

Mr. Nugent said he used “street-fighter terminology.” Actually, he used the language of Nazi Germany and the Jim Crow South.

What Nugent said is ugly and wicked and racist. And if asked about it anyone, including any Republican politician, should say so. They should say so instantaneously and unhesitatingly and unambiguously, without complaining about media double standards. They can certainly do better than Senator Ted Cruz, who distanced himself from the sentiments of Nugent while praising him for “fighting passionately for Second Amendment rights.” And when asked if he would campaign with Nugent, Cruz answered, “I haven’t yet, and I’m going to avoid engaging in hypotheticals.” Really? Why avoid engaging in this hypothetical? Why not say something like, oh, how about this: “Are you out of your mind? Absolutely not! Under no circumstances“?

Of course what Mr. Cruz did was not as depressing as what the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin did, which was to endorse Mr. Abbott on her Facebook page on Wednesday with this Palinian moral logic, stating, “If he is good enough for Ted Nugent, he is good enough for me.” (And while you’re reading Ms. Palin’s Facebook page, don’t forget to check out her book Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas in which she “calls for bringing back the freedom to express the Christian values of the season.”)

And certainly Greg Abbott, who has campaigned with Nugent, should repudiate the rock guitarist in the strongest possible way. (The New York Times reports Mr. Abbott said in a statement that Nugent “rightly apologized,” but he offered no apology himself for campaigning with Nugent. “This is not the kind of language I would use or endorse in any way,” Abbott said. “It’s time to move beyond this, and I will continue to focus on the issues that matter to Texans.”)…

But the fact that Republicans seem to be struggling with how to handle a repulsive figure like Mr. Nugent frankly does not speak well of them. What they don’t understand is that these kinds of moments have resonance with voters. They are symbolic; but symbolism matters, and in this case it speaks to something real and deep. Will a party and a movement police its own ranks when it comes to haters?

It isn’t enough to plead ignorance or blame the media for elevating the story. It’s out there now–and because Nugent is involved in GOP politics, campaigning with a would-be governor, it’s understandable why it’s a story.

There are several possible explanations for why Republicans would not denounce Nugent and his statement in unqualified terms. One is that they aren’t all that offended by what Nugent said. A second is Nugent is on their “team” and therefore needs to be treated with kid gloves. A third explanation is that they fear that in denouncing Nugent they will upset elements of the GOP base.

Any of these explanations is an indictment.

There are many things going on here, I think. One is that Republicans have long been annoyed that so many celebrities in music, movies and other artistic forms are liberals. That is entirely predictable, of course; the psychology of the artist simply rarely lends itself to upholding tradition and authority. Quite the opposite, in fact. But Republicans have long jumped at any chance to associate themselves with any performer, even moldy, washed-up has-beens like Ted Nugent and Meatloaf.

But there is also the Tea Party effect. The conservative base is so driven by anger and bitterness that it will embrace virtually anyone who spews venom at their political enemies. The stronger the rhetoric — Nazis! Communists! Muslims! — the more loudly they cheer. It’s the politics of resentment over rationality.

20 comments

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  1. 1
    Chiroptera

    Pete Wehner, one of the most intelligent and reasonable conservatives around….

    Oh? Then has he figured out that the Democratic Party is the party of the most intelligent and reasonable conservatism? Or is he still loyal to the party of anti-science, racism, and misogyny?

  2. 2
    YOB - Ye Olde Blacksmith

    The conservative base is so driven by anger and bitterness

    And fear.

  3. 3
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Mr. Nugent said he used “street-fighter terminology.”

    There used to be a term for folks who went out on the streets looking for fights. Gimme a second. I’ll remember. You know, folks who seek to demonstrate their dominance using intimidation and violence. What was that word?

    Oh, yeah. “Thugs.”

  4. 4
    dingojack

    In his case, YOB, I think the Nuge meant more in this vein. (actual fighting might cause a relapse of his rectal incontinence).
    Dingo

  5. 5
    dingojack

    Sorry, I meant Avo.. Reading failure. @@
    Dingo

  6. 6
    matty1

    Dingo that is a disturbing picture, firstly both fighters appear to have gone out in just their underpants and second the old man in the background appears to be masturbating.

  7. 7
    Chiroptera

    Avo, also nigelTheBold, #3:

    Heh. Me, that phrase makes me think of the Freikorps.

  8. 8
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    Dingo:

    Yeah. That’d make sense. Nuge does sound like a 14-year-old trying to talk smack in multiplayer.

    Not a thug, then. An adolescent with self-image problems who can’t tell the difference between being shocking and being an asshole.

  9. 9
    Trebuchet

    There are several possible explanations for why Republicans would not denounce Nugent and his statement in unqualified terms. One is that they aren’t all that offended by what Nugent said. A second is Nugent is on their “team” and therefore needs to be treated with kid gloves. A third explanation is that they fear that in denouncing Nugent they will upset elements of the GOP base.

    As usual, it doesn’t have to be just one. In fact, all three likely apply in many cases.

  10. 10
    Modusoperandi

    Now, look, when your Base is made up of ignorant, spiteful morons, your spokesmen will be, too. That’s just common sense. Sure, that makes it hard to “bring in” the undecideds, but why even try to attract them when those Socialist America-hating RINO cowards are only going to leave later on when you keep on speaking? It’s easier, and more patriotic, to simply keep what you have, keep them on the boil with balderdash, bile and bullshit, and then minimize the damage of minimizing your own party by minimizing the number of people who can vote for the other party.

  11. 11
    scienceavenger

    And when asked if he would campaign with Nugent, Cruz answered, “I haven’t yet, and I’m going to avoid engaging in hypotheticals.”

    Fuck you, you weasely fucking coward. “What if Eleanor Roosevelt could fly?” is a hypothetical. “Are you going to campaign with Nugent” is a real question of a what a real politician plans to do. By your expansive (and momentarily convenient) definition, ALL questions of political plans are “hypothetical”, and therefore out of bounds. How Palinesque of you, and no, that’s not a compliment.

  12. 12
    busterggi

    “Pete Wehner, one of the most intelligent and reasonable conservatives around”

    Then why is he a Republican?

  13. 13
    dugglebogey

    I think there is also fear that the hatred and vitriol that people like Nugent spew will be redirected at them if they denounce him. And they know that if Nugent turns on them, a lot of their base will side with the Motor City Madman.

  14. 14
    Michael Heath

    Pete Whener:

    Palinian moral logic, stating, “If [Greg Abbott] is good enough for Ted Nugent, he is good enough for me.”

    This is more evidence of how unserious the GOP has become. An ex-governor who doesn’t make an argument from authority given her own past experience, but instead making an argument from authority by referring to a washed-up rock star’s position on the matter.

    At least in this case Ms. Palin is implicitly conceding she has no credibility of her own when it comes to which politicians to support, though I’m confident that was idiotically unintentional.

  15. 15
    scienceavenger

    “If [Greg Abbott] is good enough for Ted Nugent, he is good enough for me.”

    At least this time she compared contemporaneous things (unlike the founding fathers and the pledge of allegiance). Probably just a case of a blind pig finding slop.

    And no, all you nitwits who don’t understand metaphors, I am NOT calling Palin a pig. A lying, manipulative, ignoramus of the highest caliber perhaps, but not a pig.

  16. 16
    Michael Heath

    I find this circling of the wagons simply explained. It’s basic tribalism.

    The Republicans seek to protect Ted Nugent’s future ability to criticize Republican political opponents or even Republicans who don’t toe the line. Nugent remains a key ally because he’s outrageous and enjoys a bully platform. Of course this attitude by the Republican party reveals how misogynistic, bigoted, and racist Nugents supporters all are; where these defective attributes remain largely unrecognized by Republicans given their delusional mental afflictions, especially authoritarianism and the type of thinking to leads to Christianism. We’ve gone from overt bigotry to overt and sometimes unconscious bigotry.

    This same systemic type of behavior to protect Nugent has been on display by Republicans in Arizona when it comes to the GOP’s efforts to walk back their attempts to deny their political opponents equal access to goods, services, employment, and I’m sure more. Consider how Gov. Brewer lacked the courage to argue her state should defend the equal rights of GBLT people and their families. She impotently failed to even mention this group. Even when the GOP thinks their comrades go too far, they’re still too bigoted and cowardly to acknowledge when they’re defending a group they’re dedicated to always posing as if they hate. Ditto Mitt Romney and all the AZ’s GOP state legislators that went on CNN and couldn’t acknowledge that gays should have a protected right to equal access of goods and services.

    So even in defense of GBLTs, we still see Republican opponents of the bigotry bills simultaneously seeking to push gays back in the closet or act as if they don’t even exist.

  17. 17
    Nick Gotts

    Pete Wehner, one of the most intelligent and reasonable conservatives around

    An accolade for which there is fierce competition! Why, I can name at least 0 of his rivals!

    Republicans have long been annoyed that so many celebrities in music, movies and other artistic forms are liberals. That is entirely predictable, of course; the psychology of the artist simply rarely lends itself to upholding tradition and authority.

    I’m not sure that’s true. The identification of artists (in the broad sense) with liberal or radical views mostly dates from the Romantic era, although there are some possible earlier examples, such as Milton; and it has hardly been anything like universal since then: Eliot, Yeats, Pound, Celine, Junger, Saki (H.H. Munro), Chesterton, Belloc, Conrad are among 20th century writers with right-wing views (of varied kinds, and in some cases admittedly anti-establishment as well as anti-liberal) who come to mind.

  18. 18
    democommie

    “Pete Wehner, one of the most intelligent and reasonable conservatives around….”

    In a sample >1<2.

    "At least in this case Ms. Palin is implicitly conceding she has no credibility "

    This, Michael Heath, is akin to my conceding that I'm not smokin' HAWT! The world did not need to wait for me to say so.

  19. 19
    Mobius

    “It’s time to move beyond this…”

    Translation…”Just ignore this”.

  20. 20
    felidae

    Ol’ Ted is such a paragon of Christian and conservative values like fucking underage girls, draft dodging, writing songs with raunchy lyrics–they only like him for their shared Obama hatred

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