It’s time to Break It Down!
A week ago I spent several hours engaging a number of conservatives about what, at the time, was a fresh topic: Kathy Griffin’s depiction of a decapitated #45. At its best, it was a tasteless and over the top gesture; at its worst, it was a gruesome visual that led many conservatives to contend that it reflected an actual threat on #45’s life. I read that the FBI has committed to investigate the matter.
Having stipulated all of the above:
- I personally think Griffin went too far, and,
- I said that (more than once) in my encounter with several conservatives who revel in their full-throated support of the current President…and in their total and absolute disdain and rejection of his immediate predecessor (Barack Obama).
That is significant because, in engaging them, I asked did they not see the parallels between Griffin’s act and what President Obama faced during the entirety of his 8-year tenure in office? As an aside, numerous reports confirm that President Obama received more death threats than any President in history. By at least one account the number increased by 400 percent over the 3,000 or so per year that George W. Bush received, according to Ronald Kessler, author of, “In the President’s Secret Service.”
I am confident that most will not find it surprising, the gaggle of conservatives with whom I spoke felt Ms. Griffin’s action was not only reprehensible, but that nothing even remotely comparable happened to President Obama. They used a number of rationales to reach that conclusion, some of which I will address below.
At the outset, one individual said I could not cite a single example of anyone doing anything similar to Obama. Not one. The Tea Party immediately springs to my mind. Another accused me of bait and switch by even bringing it up. Then of course, they dared me to produce such an example. Having been around the block more than a time or two, I didn’t fall for the okey-doke. I noted that in my interactions with this group I was able to discern that all of the members were savvy enough to navigate the web and find numerous examples with just a few clicks.
At that point, the dimensions of the exercise changed. The response was altered to, not one single person with a significant social media presence had ever done such a thing. Joe Blow from Kokomo didn’t count. Say what? So I inquired what difference does a robust social media presence make?
The answer, I was told, was that because Ms. Griffin has more than a million Twitter followers, her message was spread instantly to a huge audience. Of course, it is worth noting that the four Presidents who have been killed while in office, Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and Kennedy, were all killed by a lone gunman. By the way, each was gunned down prior to the age of social media. Moreover, while its fodder for another post, it should also be added, the perpetrators killed each of them using a firearm.
I went on to observe that one key distinction was Ms. Griffin’s act drew condemnation from the left, not just the right, and she quickly apologized. The apology, they argued was weak, and insincere. By this time I was becoming more than a little aghast at the double standard consistently used by these exemplars of conservatism. Well, not really. I’m accustomed to it by now. Nevertheless, I soldiered on. I asked if that was the same reaction they had when candidate Trump apologized for having made a comment about grabbing women’s genitalia? I guess they had no answer for that one so at least two of them asked me if I had ever mad a lewd comment to a female or a male?
At this point, I felt turnabout was fair play. I labeled that diversionary tactic exactly what it was, bait and switch. I went on to add the question was unapt, since I was not a candidate for President. It was at this point, out of nowhere, one of them introduced the possibility that the folks threatening President Obama might have been joking. I opted not to take the easy way out, being as how Griffin is a comedian, and all. Instead, I stayed on topic, and kept the subject on my initial point about what Obama experienced. I said I never got the impression that Ted Nugent was joking (And by the way, he does have an appreciable social media footprint).
At this point, the response level got even more extreme in its ridiculousness. A respondent replied that Nugent was a “real conservative” who was angry with Obama (and Hillary) because he felt they’d committed treason by their actions related to Benghazi. OK, point-counterpoint; I asked if they were aware some Americans believe Mr. Trump is guilty of Treason (Russia, Russia, Russia)? Then things just went off the grid. A gentleman responded some Americans believe Martians walk among us. He went on to discuss the waste of taxpayers’ money on the countless investigations, when…wait for it…there is no crime. While it would have been easy enough to reply, “And some Americans think #45 is a good President.” But I didn’t. I kept Michelle’s “Go high” uppermost in mind as I continued to respond.
I noted that in this country, we have a system of protocols that provide a certain order and sequencing to things. In that light, first come the investigations, and then the conclusions follow. Not the other way around. Hence, it just might be appropriate to complete a few of these investigations before we conclude no crime was committed. As to the waste of taxpayers’ money, I do not remember any strong assertion from the admittedly fiscal restraint promoting Republicans that any Hillary Clinton investigations were a waste of money. Not once!
At this point, one of them attempted to double back and re-insert the question of whether I had ever made lewd comments to a woman. Now I felt they not only had no pertinent answers, but that they had also reached the end of their collective hyper creative imaginations. Tempting, as it was to go rogue or break western, I restrained the urge. I noted that I would simply not dignify their efforts to malign my character. And, as a visitor to their social media space, I would certainly never deign to do such a thing to any of them.
All things considered, it was an interesting encounter. These are just the CliffNotes. It was also another not so subtle reminder of that deep and wide ideological chasm I reference frequently. The right, from #45 to Mr. Nugent, to folks I encounter from time to time on the WorldWideWeb seem not only unalterably opposed, but also physically incapable of issuing a simple apology or conceding an otherwise plain to see (by anyone outside #45’s supporters, surrogates, and spinners) reasonable point.
My own view is that in the strictest sense Nugent’s speech was hateful, but did not comprise a direct threat. Similarly, I find that no matter how tasteless Griffin’s depiction was, it was not a threat to #45. I fully expect the Secret Service, even #45’s Secret Service, to arrive at the same conclusion they did with Nugent. Stupid? Yes. Physically threatening? No. Having said that, I do believe the left is at a strategic disadvantage when it comes to these matters. The right is ruthless and relentless. It’s what they expect from each other, and they reward commitment to the cause. The left, not so much.
The right has devised a convenient response for may of #45’s more outré actions. They have drawn a peculiar line in the sand. On one side there is criminal behavior; on the other side political acts. According to them, none of the regime’s bizarre and otherwise inexplicable actions are illegal. They are merely politics. Right wing zealot style. Buckle up; it’s going to be a long and circuitous ride.
Nugent’s pearls of wisdom include but are not limited to:
- “We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their (the Obama administration’s) heads off in November”
- “If Barack Obama becomes the next president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”
- “Harry Reid, Obama, and Hillary Clinton should be tried for treason and hung.”
- Our unholy rotten soulless criminal America destroying government killed 4 Americans in Benghazi. Period! What sort of chimpass punk would deny security, turn down 61 requests for security, then tell US forces to STAND DOWN when they were ready to kickass on the allapukes and save American lives! Obama & Clinton, that’s who. They should be tried for treason & hung. Our entire fkdup gvt must be cleansed asap”
- “Obama, he’s a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun.”
Mitt Romney thought so much of him (Nugent), he sought (received and accepted) his endorsement. When asked about Nugent’s comments, Romney would only say in a written statement released by his communications team:
- “Divisive language is offensive no matter what side of the political aisle it comes from. Mitt Romney believes everyone needs to be civil.” – Andrea Saul, Romney Campaign Spokesperson
Romney’s eldest son, Tagg, was a bit more effusive. He put it this way, when he tweeted:
- “Ted Nugent endorsed my Dad today. Ted Nugent? How cool is that? He joins Kid Rock as great Detroit musicians on Team Mitt!”
At the time, Nugent was somewhat more subdued, when he tweeted:
- “after a long heart&soul conversation with MittRomney today I concluded this goodman will properly represent we the people & I endorse him”
And then there was #45, who, of course on Twitter, said this:
- Ted Nugent was obviously using a figure of speech, unfortunate as it was. It just shows the anger people have towards @BarackObama.”
#45 would double down on his comments by inviting Nugent to the White House. It should come as no surprise his thoughts about Griffin were substantially different. About her, he tweeted:
- Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!”
There is a case study begging to be done on the nuanced matters tied to these two incidents. It’s apparent that TrumpWorld readily sees some kind of universal anger towards President Obama that, in their view, simply does not exist in the bitterness directed toward #45. The reasons for that, they say, are just products of liberals in general, Democrats in particular, and of course, the main stream and fake news media (which includes just about every media outlet not named Fox, or not based in Russia). More important, he was rightfully empathetic toward his son Barron, stemming from Griffin’s depiction, yet found no such insight into the feelings of Malia and Sasha, tied to Nugent’s despicable rants. Surprising? No, not really. When taken altogether, you have the necessary framework for, “Griffin vs. Nugent: Anatomy of a Threat!”
I’m done; holla back!
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