An Open Post to Ted Nugent

Before I get to the open post, here’s a brief set-up. David Atkins has a nice piece on Hulabaloo about what appears to be a kind of mass Right-wing panic:


The title is “What’s their big problem?” His main point is not to question why the Right opposes President Obama but why they do so in such apocalyptic terms, especially since the Obama Presidency has been moderate at worst (“worst” from the Right wing’s perspective). You can supply the particulars as well as I or Atkins, I believe.

Atkins goes on to speculate that what their big problem is . . . is a demographic shift, in which a large portion of the population that might be inclined to vote is leaning toward the kind of moderation President Obama and others represent. He also says that race probably plays a role in the over-reaction, which is exemplified by Ted Nugent, he argues:

‘Nugent called President Obama a criminal and denounced his “vile, evil America-hating administration” which is “wiping its ass with the Constitution.” Taking it a step further, he said that “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” “If you can’t galvanize and promote and recruit people to vote for Mitt Romney, we’re done,” he continued.

Supreme Court justices also came under assault by Nugent, who claims that the court’s more liberal members have signed a declaration against Americans’ right to self-defense…

Nugent concluded with a call to cut off the heads of Democrats in November: “We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November. Any questions?”’

I know Mr. Nugent meant “An questions?” rhetorically, and he didn’t have my kind in mind. I’m an English professor and a poet, after all. But in this open post to Mr. Nugent I’ll ask some polite questions of him, and make some observations.

What has President Obama done that President Bush didn’t do to offend those concerned with the Constitution? The Bush administration prosecuted what some consider to be an illegal war (Iraq), conducted warrantless wire-tapping, invented the category “enemy combatant” and detained “enemy combatants” indefinitely and tortured them. So why didn’t you direct such hostile rhetoric at President Bush? Simply because he was Republican, or because he was White, or both?

Aside from continuing some policies that Bush started, what has President Obama done to violate the Constitution? Regarding gun-control and the Second Amendment, President Obama has done nothing. Not one thing. If it’s the healthcare-bill you’re concerned about, don’t be: it’s being reviewed, according to the Constitution, by the Supreme Court, where 5 justices are conservative. He’s submitted budget-ideas to Congress but has, as the Constitution mandates, deferred to to Congress, which establishes the budget. He’s made no more recess-appointments than Bush or previous presidents have. I’m out of guesses: where specifically has he violated the Constitution? Just say so, but be specific.

It’s true that the four liberal justices disagreed with the majority in the relatively recent rulings related to the Second Amendment, but in none of the minority opinions appears the view that “the right to bear arms” doesn’t exist. I think most sensible people know where the problem exists: technology. When the amendment was written, we had muskets and single-shot handguns, and few people, if any, owned cannons. Now we have armor-piercing machine guns, rocket-launchers, bazookas, and so on. Isn’t it reasonable to assume that a discussion about how far the amendment can be stretched is necessary? Isn’t it in everyone’s interest?

Two observations: I remember when Glenn Beck interviewed you on his old show, before the show on Fox. Of candidate Obama, you said, “I wish him well, he as a beautiful family, I just disagree with him. You know–Fedzilla.” Now, reasonable people can disagree about whether President Obama represents a bigger government than George Bush or Bill Clinton did. That point aside, I have to say that I admired your statement back then. You didn’t take Beck’s bait. You spoke like a gentleman. Well done. Your side lost the election, but not because of your classy rhetoric.

Second: here, perhaps, is a surprise. Although I’m a poet and a professor, I grew up in the backwoods of California in a town of 200, at an elevation of 4,000 feet. Not Detroit, in other words. I was immersed in a world of hunting and fishing. My father owned about five rifles and two handguns. I grew up eating venison. I’m still an avid fisherman. When I go back to visit, we always go target-shooting. My brother’s cabin features a couple of mounted deer heads. And so on. My father was a Republican. But he didn’t indulge in violent, ugly rhetoric. He was just of the opinion his views were correct, and he’d argue them, but he was secure enough in them not to threaten people or confuse a campaign with a battle. He fought in World War II. He never waived a gun around. He would consider anyone who did to be dangerous and, I’m sorry, but also an “asshole.” He was a genuine mountain man. Loud people who bragged and talked too much about weapons he considered to be “tourists.” You dig?

That is to say, Mr. Nugent, stop acting like an asshole. Stop acting like a city-slicker. Reign your rhetoric in. Raise money for Romney. Work on his campaign. Stay in the public arena. Show your children and President Obama’s children and everybody else’s children how it’s done. You argue your case. You give tough speeches. You give specific examples. You fight, figuratively. Politics is in place of war, remember. Then there’s an election. Someone wins. We all move on from there. If we’re men, we’re man enough to deal with it. We say of the other fellow, “He’s got a beautiful family. I wish him well. But the next go around, I want a Republican to win.”

I’m going to say to you what a lot of us Boomers, apparently, need to hear: grow up. And lighten up. You’ve never had a single liberty taken away from you. No doubt you have a beautiful family. I wish you well.


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