The Biz vs. the Nuge

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 13 2013 9:18 AM

The Biz vs. the Nuge

My State of the Union take, from late last night, focused on the Republicans who have nothing to lose from opposing everything Obama proposes. My focal point was celebrity guest Ted Nugent, the invited guest of a safe-seat Republican who's already threatened to impeach Obama.

As Nugent talked to reporters, his sponsor, Rep. Steve Stockman, was standing more or less alone, discussing the lack of depth behind any gun bill push. “I was listening to NPR this morning,” said Stockman. “Yes, I listen to NPR! The senator from West Virginia was on, and he said, ‘Yeah, I’m for more gun control.’ They said, ‘Give us specifics.’ And by the end of the interview he didn’t really have any.”
Nugent just kept moving from camera to camera, from the set-up satellite feeds in Statuary Hall to the hand-helds of independent reporters. Like the median House Republican, he had his constituency, and he knew it was bigger than the liberals’. “If you walk the halls with me,” he told a National Review writer, “every military guy, every cop, has an Uncle Ted story. See the smile on my face? These are my buddies here. I’m surrounded by working hard, playing hard Americans.”
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The point is that Obama continues to publicly shame Republicans for not allowing up-down votes on issues that poll very well. Democrats probably helped correct this, to a point, by bringing gun violence victims' families to shame the GOP in real time. Reporters' heads jerked right when they heard one woman yell the name of another victim during the "they deserve a vote!" litany. But Republicans are holding fast to an electoral dynamic that advantages them.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.