So for the second time in one primary cycle it appears that the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney has flinched on repudiating some pretty heinous remarks by uber-conservative favorites in his party.
It took several days of loud and resounding outcry against conservative fire-brand Rush Limbaugh’s verbal attack on Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke before Romney was finally cornered on to issue a response. It wasn’t the strongest repudiation in history, simply stating those wouldn’t be the words “he would have used.”
And here we go again – another defining watershed moment. All eyes are on Mitt.
Over the weekend, guitarist and noted self-proclaimed Obama-hater went off on the Commander-in-Chief, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder. He claimed all three were “criminals”.
“If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year,” said Nugent in an NRA YouTube. “If you can’t go home and get everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil America hated administration, I don’t even know what you’re made out of,” adding “we need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November. Am I? any questions?”
Because of the tirade, which many observers say is a clear veiled threat on the president’s life, [ummmm … something that is against the law], the Secret Service told Nugent they needed to meet with him, Nugent said during a call in to Glenn Beck’s radio show.
Despite all the flailing and wailing from various factions regarding Nugent’s remarks – par for course for the irritable, explosive and opinionated figure – Romney’s campaign issued a response that failed to mention Nugent by name.
“Divisive language is offensive no matter what side of the political aisle it comes from” the campaign wrote in a statement.
It would seem that Romney is being very cautious about not upsetting the conservative base. Or the National Rifle Association lobby for that matter. It seems he doesn’t think it wise to show some hubris and stand strong against toxic rhetoric when they are uttered by key controversial supporters. He’s definitely nervous about that as conservatives, from Nugent hunting buddy Mike Huckabee to senior Republican Senator James Inhofe, all sing the rock star’s praises as if they’d been on tour with him.
Certainly, the dozens of liberal bloggers tearing up Mitt on this issue think so.
But the other story is this incident shows how quickly Democrats are willing to quickly fold – at least compared to Republican discipline and unity when it comes to their own.
Case in point: last Wednesday night, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that Mitt Romney was wrong to look to his stay-at-home wife Ann Romney for advice on the economic concerns of women because Ann “hasn’t worked a day in her life”.
Not even an hour passed before the right was wall over it. But, even more significant was the way the left threw her under the bus with a quickness. Obama campaign manager Jim Messina tweeted a repudiation of Rosen’s remarks. The President himself issued a statement about not attacking the spouses of elected officials. Several other key Democratic leaders followed suit.
Granted, the remarks were outrageous on some level, but there was barely time for most in the public to even have realized they were made before Rosen felt the wheels on the bus go round and round … over her body.
Politico’s Tim Mak writes that Ted Nugent is to Mitt Romney what Hilary Rosen was to President Obama. Really? Probably on some naked, cynical and poll taking political level. But, Rosen wasn’t talking about “cutting off heads” and being in jail or ending up dead if President Obama were re-elected – before a crowd of gun enthusiasts, no doubt. Still, if the left presses the issue enough, it could be a defining moment in time for Mitt.
Good thing all of this is unfolding so early in the year. Thankfully for both men, Americans have the memory of a flea. By November, most of these moments in political time will be water under an exploding bridge.