Last week, in a week which presented a multitude of so-called scandals within the Obama bureaucracy — one of which, perhaps, even meriting the designation of actual scandal — what must be the right’s first opportunity for a lucrative argument against the administration’s competence has already been soured by the idiotic rhetoric of the typical Republican base.
Not many people even know who Ted Nugent is anymore or why he is even remotely name-worthy in the political sphere. Calling him a musician is a stretch — his guitar playing is obnoxious and uninspired — and his conservative humdrum is similarly removed from the Lynyrd Skynyrd he so obviously covets. Yet this is the man’s sole source of fame.
And now Nugent’s incendiary and racist comments about President Obama have seeped into the news cycle, challenging a set of perfectly juicy election-year scandals for our feeble attention spans.
It’s perplexing, really. Nugent said something to the effect that if Obama is reelected, he (Obama? Nugent?) would be either dead or incarcerated within a year’s time. And sensing when one of their own has overstepped even by their morning news standards, Fox News talk show hosts are now quibbling over what Nugent really meant.
If Nugent was pledging to carry out some sort of assassination, well, that is the sort of naive banter that we can sadly no longer afford not to take seriously. For the record: it doesn’t matter who you are or how subtle your mastery of sarcasm, talking in front of an audience about killing the President will earn you an investigation by the Secret … well, we’ll get to them in a moment.
But if it was as Fox & Friends suggests — that Obama’s own people would kill Nugent, presumably to quash the sage outpouring of his infinite wisdom — then the news would seem to have just as much to talk about. I imagine Bill O’Reilly put on the spot: “Apart from Osama Bin Laden, Bill, can you produce the name of one other person killed by President Obama or his ‘people’?” Oh, how I miss Keith Olbermann at times like these.
Similar efforts to probe the Secret Service scandal in Columbia are going nowhere. True enough, the agents implicated in the prostitution allegations have somehow managed to blight one of the last remaining political institutions of bipartisan esteem, but this mere cynicism does not win elections. Nor have the agents done anything strictly illegal; if prostitution happens to be legal in Columbia, then that is plainly the country’s rule of law and none of our conservative moral pornography can hope to spin such facts into a real scandal.
There is, I feel, a real scandal in Washington. And it seems in their separate failings, Nugent and the Secret Service have stolen all the coverage of political misbehavior we can handle for the moment — much to the benefit of Obama and the bureaucracy. I’m speaking about the lavish tab run up by the recently-spotlighted General Services Administration (GSA) to the tune of $820,000 in fun-filled training seminars in Las Vegas. The principle task of the GSA, for those not in the know, is to preclude and curtail reckless spending in government agencies.
I suppose we all have a right to be outraged by such a brash and hypocritical fleecing of the American taxpayer, but some extraordinary umbrage seems reserved for the failure of the executive branch to claim its responsibility in the mess. Calls for the White House to repudiate its involvement in the Columbian prostitution uproar seem trite and political in the face of this genuine calamity.
I am not idealistic enough not to forgive a political scandal here and there in the administration I endorse, but for a scandal to hit home so close to the message of responsible spending that the White House has touted since Obama’s height-of-the-recession inauguration desperately begs for clarification. And while I foresee a swift re-election for Obama in November, I am uneasy with anything that could serve as live ammunition in the hands of even today’s feckless Republican obstructionism.
And though the week’s news cycle contains enough fumbling on either side of the aisle to warrant a prefacing similar to any Vonnegut novel — none of this actually matters — I am ill at ease with the notion that the vector addition of all the scandals in America might lead you back to exactly where it started.