Ted Nugent to attend State of the Union. Will that backfire? (+video)
Ted Nugent, rocker and gun rights defender, will be a congressman's guest at Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night. Verbal broadsides expected, for better or for worse.
Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.
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Representative Stockman invited Mr. Nugent and gave him a ticket to sit in the gallery overlooking the House chamber. The Texas lawmaker, who recently made headlines by threatening to file articles of impeachment against President Obama over executive actions on gun control, said he was excited to have a “patriot” like the Nuge as his guest.
“After the address I’m sure Ted will have plenty to say,” said Stockman.
Yes, yes he will. That’s certain. But beyond that we have to ask: Is this a good idea?
After all, Nugent will be sitting in the same room with children from Sandy Hook Elementary and other victims of gun violence. He’ll also be sitting in the same room with Mr. Obama. You’ll remember that last spring several members of the Secret Service visited Nugent for a chat after he said that if Obama were to be reelected “I will either be dead or in jail.” The agents came away convinced that Nugent was a bigger threat to grammar and decorum than to the president, but still.
Advocates of gun control claim to be gleeful about the forthcoming Nugent sighting. They figure he’ll be outrageous enough to frighten a large swath of the viewing public. After all, this is a guy who markets his own brand of ammunition, and in the past he has told both Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, in explicit terms, what they should do with his machine guns. He talks about the administration’s “communist-Mao-Che” agenda. All of his clothing appears to be camo.
Liberal pundit Greg Sargent goes further, saying that Nugent’s appearance only emphasizes The Crazy, the hard right aspect of the GOP that party leaders such as Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana have complained turns off moderate voters.
“If I were the GOP leadership, the prospect of further comments from Nugent after the speech would have me a bit worried,” writes Mr. Sargent.
We’ll admit that at times it sounds as if Nugent’s verbs are only faintly acquainted with their subjects, and his sentences are delivered with enough force to unfurl a thousand flags. But the left should keep this in mind: The Nuge is a professional performer. Part of his persona is an act. When he wants to, he can dial it down and sound coherent. And he represents a widespread hunting-oriented point of view.
He did a number on gun-control advocate/talk show host Piers Morgan last week, for instance. Invited onto Mr. Morgan’s show as part of its continuing gun coverage, Nugent blasted the veteran British journalist, saying, “would you leave us the [expletive] alone!”
“I think you’re obsessed with guns,” Nugent told Morgan during an interview in a gun shop. “Ninety-nine point nine nine percent of the gun owners of America are wonderful people that you are hanging around with today. Perfectly safe. Perfectly harmless. Wonderful, loving, giving, generous, caring people.”
OK, it did sound at one point as if Nugent called Morgan “Pierce,” and he talked so fast that Morgan needed a crowbar to get a word in edgewise. But “felony recidivism” rolled off Nuge’s tongue like butter. He’s more articulate than many think.
Also, he will not be armed Tuesday night. Just in case you were wondering.
“I will go in at least 20 pounds lighter than I normally walk,” he told The New York Times on Monday. “I will be going in sans the hardware store on my belt. I live a well-armed life, and I’ve got to demilitarize before I go.”