“Angry at the state of world affairs
Angry at the fools that just don't care
This is guaranteed to go nowhere
Even like a dog, that's been abused
I will never ever lose
With the spirit of the wild inside of me
I got the spirit of the wild runnin' free
I got the spirit of the wild inside of me, Yea!”
- Ted Nugent (Spirit of the Wild, 1995)
At 7 p.m. tonight, rock star/gun rights advocate Ted Nugent will be attending President Obama's State of the Union speech. Immediately afterwards, he plans to hold a press conference to comment, according to his host, Texas Rep. Steve Stockman.
Last year, Nugent made headlines when he said in this video, “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will be either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”
That incendiary statement led to a visit by the Secret Service the following week in which both Nugent and the Secret Service acknowledged that the issue had been resolved and that there had been no direct threat of violence toward Obama.
Chalk up one for free speech and one for proper investigation of intent.
Fast forward to tonight. Very quickly, a very serious State of the Union address is developing the potential to become a circus. On an evening in which we will honor a Sandy Hook elementary school teacher and a heroic police officer from the Sikh temple shooting, Ted Nugent’s presence will create an unnecessary distraction.
“This is the path that the NRA has taken since Sandy Hook. They don’t want to talk about guns. Instead, they’ve chosen to arm guards in schools, talk about violent video games and focus on mentally ill people,” said Shira Goodman, Executive Director of CeaseFirePA, a gun-control advocacy group in Pennsylvania.
Denise Clay, a Philadelphia-based political analyst, doesn’t believe that Nugent should be attending tonight’s affair, as she considered Nugent’s comment a threat. “One of the things the First Amendment doesn't guarantee is the right to threaten the President. He's [Nugent] done it at least once. The Dixie Chicks didn't physically threaten President Bush, and they didn't get a SOTU invite.”
But Jon Mirowitz, an attorney who teaches gun law at the PA Bar Institute, supports Nugent’s attendance. “Why shouldn’t he be there? He’s an invited guest. Why shouldn’t he be there?” Mirowitz, who also serves as the Philadelphia GOP’s 42nd ward leader, said he became a gun rights advocate in the 1960s after he was mugged on the George Washington Bridge (which connects northern Manhattan and Fort Lee, NJ). “Absolute [gun] bans have been ruled unconstitutional,” Mirowitz emphasized when asked about Nugent.
To me, a solid gun rights supporter, the problem is not Nugent – it’s Rep. Stockman. When you are a Congressman, you should have the common sense and good manners to choose an appropriate guest to represent your agenda. This move showed neither one. Instead, Stockman has turned tonight’s event into a media circus, where the TV cameras will be giving Stockman and Nugent all the attention their egos desire.
Instead of Nugent, there are plenty of intelligent choices Stockman could have made. How about loyal gun rights advocate Tom Selleck, which was recommended by Clay. Or a legitimate sportsman from Texas, as Goodman suggested.
I’ve got a better idea. How about calling in sick, Rep. Stockman, and taking your guest with you? Staying out of the limelight after threatening to impeach President Obama might be your wisest choice. In a time in which Republicans are still licking their wounds from November’s presidential defeat, the last thing the fatigued American voters want to hear about is another impeachment fiasco.