Ted Nugent -- the proud gun owner, poorly coiffed Michigander, and washed-up rocker -- has said some silly and offensive things in the past, and not just while performing "Cat Scratch Fever." In 2007, he said during a concert: "Obama, he's a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun. Hey Hillary [Clinton], you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch."
So that's his level of political discourse. Of course, he seems to be speaking figuratively, if distastefully. But he made another rather appalling statement over the weekend at the National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis:
If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will be either be dead or in jail by this time next year.
Nugent also recommends decapitating Democrats: "We need to ride onto that battlefield and chop their heads off in November." (The folks brandishing rifles in the background of the video above add another element of surrealism to the proceeding.)
Again, it's hard to take this as a literal threat of assassination against the president, but how else would Nugent have us understand it? It goes without saying that comments like this have no place in politics. Indeed, the Secret Service tells New York that it is investigating his statement (not that the Secret Service doesn't have other things to worry about at the moment. Nugent will likely end up with slap on the wrist, if that).
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There's an additional political wrinkle: Nugent is a Mitt Romney endorser, from the days when Romney was worried about losing the Michigan primary and happily scooping up endorsements from every trashy, violence-prone, Detroit rocker he could find, although Nugent's endorsement actually came after the primary. Democrats are hastening to tie the presumptive nominee to the guitarist. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz wrote in an e-mail to supporters on Tuesday calling on Romney to denounce the comments. And he has: Andrea Saul, a campaign spokesperson, said in an e-mail, "Divisive language is offensive no matter what side of the political aisle it comes from. Mitt Romney believes everyone needs to be civil."
Any Democrat who describes Nugent as a "Romney surrogate" is being just as disingenuous as are Republicans who called Hilary Rosen an "Obama strategist." In fact, the White House seems pretty blase about it, calling the kerfuffle "noise." "We can't be policing the statements of supporters across the board," press secretary Jay Carney said. Perhaps a better question is how the NRA feels about Nugent's comments. We've contacted the group and will update when and if we hear back.