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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

 
Ted Nugent is harmless by contrast

by David Atkins

The political universe is roiling with obsession today at Ted Nugent's invite to the State of the Union. Greg Sargent provides a little perspective:

But really, this episode is significant for reasons that go well beyond Nugent. The key actor here who matters is Steve Stockman. The problem lies in all the over-the-top stuff GOP lawmakers say regularly that isn’t quite crazy enough to earn widespread condemnation, as Nugent’s quotes have, but are still whacked out enough to encourage an atmosphere that helps keep millions of GOP base voters sealed off from reality. The problem is the perpetual winking and nodding to The Crazy that is deemed marginally acceptable – the hints about creeping socialism, the claim that modest Obama executive actions amount to tyranny, the suggestions that Obama’s values are vaguely un-American and that Obama is transforming the country and the economy into something no longer recognizably American, and so on — more so than the glaringly awful stuff that gets the media refs to throw their flags.

As Jonathan Bernstein put it the other day, Republican lawmakers who flirt with this type of talk regularly are helping create an environment in which moderate Republicans are forever on the defensive and in fear of the base. If moderate Republicans want to change this, they will have to dial this stuff back.
Sargent is right, but I would go further. Neither Nugent nor Stockman have gotten anyone killed or hurt, except insofar as they're part of the broader pro-gun movement. For all their big talk, they're effectively harmless.

Not so harmless, on the other hand, are the very real cuts to Medicare and Social Security being espoused by Alan Simpson, Erskine Bowles, John Boehner and, yes, Barack Obama. Those are actually dangerous and will end up costing lives. Not harmless are the cuts to Medicaid and the WIC program, which will certainly cause death and injury to large numbers of people. The militarization of our police force, advocated by so many Very Serious People within the national security establishment, has already cost many lives. And, of course, the lack of action on climate change being enforced by all sorts of respectable types within both parties has already cost thousands of lives and will cost millions more.

In that context, not only is Ted Nugent a harmless buffoon, but so even is Steve Stockman to a certain degree. The Washington Consensus types love to clutch their pearls over the Sarah Palins, Ted Nugents and Todd Akins in the same breath that they tut-tut Paul Krugman, Bernie Sanders or Dennis Kucinich. But it's not the right-wing buffoons who are hurting people. It's the Consensus crowd that's actually doing the damage.

Joe Scarborough is far more dangerous and will end up getting far more people killed than Ted Nugent ever dreamed of.


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