How to Tell if That Controversial Person Speaks for You or Not

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 17 2012 4:30 PM

How to Tell if That Controversial Person Speaks for You or Not

The Democratic National Committee hasn't exactly been subtle about it. Last week, full days of the news cycle were squandered because Hilary Rosen, a Democratic super-hack who doesn't actually work for the Obama campaign, said that Ann Romney had "never worked a day in her life."

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

To quote the nihilist played by Flea in The Big Lebowksi: It's not fair. Why should a stupid comment by a pundit equal the opinion of all Democrats? The response: Nugentgate. Ted Nugent, the author of such songs as "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" and "Bound and Gagged," one of the loosest-tongued gun rights advocates in America, spoke to the NRA Convention and said the sort of stuff he always says.

Advertisement

We are starting to see unofficial rules being written for situations like these. A very short guide:

Foster Friess
The relationship:
Donor of nearly $1 million to the pro-Rick Santorum group the Red White and Blue PAC.
The offense: Joking that in his day, birth control was women holding Aspirin between their knees.
The response: "I‘m not going to be responsible for everybody who’s– any supporter of mine and what they say. I’m not going to play that game."

Kris Kobach
The relationship:
Key endorser of Mitt Romney in Kansas, where he serves as Secretary of State.
The offense: Being the key author of Alabama's immigration law makes him somewhat controversial.
The response: Glenn Thrush: "When I asked Boston if Kobach was still an 'adviser,' a Romney spokesperson emailed back: 'supporter.'"

Ted Nugent
The relationship:
Nugent endorsed Romney after making him "pledge" there'd be no new gun laws in his term.
The offense: Being Ted Nugent at the NRA.
The response: An actual distancing. "Divisive language is offensive no matter what side of the political aisle it comes from," said Romney spox Andrea Saul.

So, what's the rule? Serious question. What's the rule or guideline we see from mess to mess?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.