I am shocked, appalled, and outraged by what happened at the NRA Convention last weekend, with Ted Nugent.
Ted Nugent said something. And people listened.
He delivered a tirade implying that he was, well, not entirely satisfied with the present administration. This is putting it mildly. It was rude. It was violent. It betrayed certain fundamental confusions about our founding history.
It was the sort of deranged rambling you associate with aging rockers with bad hair who have coasted from reality series to reality series since the mid-2000s, not respected public figures like Ted Nug--
You may find this difficult to believe, but there is such a thing as too much indignation.
What Ted Nugent said, sure, was crazy and over the line, and an apology would not be unwelcome. But consider the source. He is a middle-aged rocker with bad hair associated with songs like “Wango Tango” and “I Love BBQ.”
If Ted Nugent were to make remarks in the middle of a forest with no one there to gin up Online Indignation, they wouldn’t make a sound. Maybe one tree would sigh pointedly, but that’s about it.
Gone are the days when appearing on the Simpsons to lampoon your own persona as a gun-obsessed, guitar-playing fiend (“If we outlaw crossbows in our public schools, who's gonna protect our children from charging elk?”) gave you a free pass to say bizarre things to groups of people with guns. Perhaps that’s for the best. I understand that talking to the NRA is different than talking to most groups. Saying incendiary things to People Who Definitely Have Guns is at least slightly more incendiary than saying it to, say, the World Organization of Porcupine Fanciers.
But the reaction seems nearly as intemperate as the action. Once word of his speech leaked, the Indignation Machine sprang into action with a fluency born of long practice. Just as the Romney Indignation Machine did last week, crushing Hilary Rosen in its gears.
Now the Secret Service is looking into his remarks. Admittedly, it’s an improvement from some things they’ve been looking into lately. Maybe this is just a distraction, to keep them out of real trouble.
I know we should take all threats to the president seriously. But you can’t be serious.
As long as we’re combing through his remarks for threats, maybe we should take another look at “Wango Tango.” If you squint, it sounds pretty threatening, if only because I have no idea what any of the lyrics mean.
Look, I don’t like his remarks. If Mitt Romney wants to denounce them, just to be safe, he is welcome to. It serves him right, as my colleague Jonathan Capehart said, for enthusiastically welcoming Nugent to the fold. Really? We have to sit down with aging Guitar Heroes and have heart-to-hearts in order to run for president?
But — give me a break.
The only growth industry these days is indignation. If there’s anything I can buy stock in — Twitter, probably, people seem to take to it when they have indignation to express and apologies to demand — I need to load up, and soon. We’re in election season.
It’s hard to make the case that Ted Nugent would be anyone’s idea of a logical surrogate. He’s Ted Nugent, for the love of Pete.
There’s a delicate balance at work here. The candidates can’t say anything out of line. But Received Wisdom says the base won’t get excited if you just traipse around being temperate and patting babies warmly on the head. “If I don’t get elected come November, the country will probably be all right, although some programs might be implemented with which I strongly disagree,” just doesn’t have the same sizzle. A polite campaign? But what am I to do with all this unlimited money?
Instead, they depend on others to say out-of-line things for them. Or better yet, they sit around hoping that someone affiliated with their opponent will. That’s the real stuff.
And Ted Nugent just supplied it in spades.
If you really want to help a political candidate, endorse his opponent and go say something rash. It’s like an early birthday gift. As Ann Romney so memorably said.