Carl Paladino and Ted Nugent headline the pro-gun movement

Ted Nugent

It should come as no surprise to anyone following the news that we have a full-blown clash of values brewing over gun-control in America, a fight where people of goodwill disagree over the fundamental moral issues at play.

The fight doesn’t break along party lines, either.  Ten New York state Republican state senators voted in favor of Andrew Cuomo’s gun control measure, while Democratic congressman Bill Owens  opposes most firearm regulations.

President Barack Obama pushed the gun control argument hard again last night in his state of the union address.

I’m not going to wade into the point-by-point arguments that shape each side’s positions.

But I do want to pick apart the optics of the fight — and, yes, this is another imbroglio where I think conservatives are getting their hats handed to them.

Let me say again:  It’s entirely possible to be a grounded, values-driven American familiar with the US constitution and the current state of violence in our country and land on either side of this issue.

I know people on both sides who are smart, wise and informed.

Which is why it’s bizarre that gun advocates are fielding their current crop of zanies to defend their views on 2nd amendment rights.

Tuesday in Albany, Conservative flame-thrower Carl Paladino blasted Albany for passing new gun control measures, before publicly flipping off one of the state’s most high profile journalists.

Meanwhile, this week a House congressman announced that he planned to bring heavy metal goofball Ted Nugent to last night’s State of the Union address.  Nugent was there, looking like a guy sitting on a pin cushion.

It’s not that these guys don’t have a right to speak out.  Of course they do.  But does anyone really believe that they’re the right folks to tell the story that gun supporters want told?

Meanwhile, gun control advocates are fielding people who — whatever you think of their arguments — appear and sound sane, sympathetic and middle-of-the-road.  In an optics battle, Gabby Giffords tops Ted Nugent every time.

That family from Chicago who lost their daughter to gunfire in a city park?  Yeah, they play on TV better than Paladino’s bird.

There’s an old saying that the medium is the message.  I’m going to bend that a little and say that the messenger becomes the message.

The left used to have this problem.  Conservatives still mutter about Jane Fonda and they try to plaster a couple of pathetic Black Panther wannabes on the front of the Drudge site.

But the truth is that liberals have mostly figured out that if you want to drag the middle of America to your side, you put a face on the problem that feels sympathetic and positive and warm.

Part of this is an echo chamber problem.  If you float in the white, conservative, NRA, Fox News mediasphere, having a couple of vein-pounding loudmouths fighting for what you view as your God given rights may seem like a good thing.

One Republican lawmaker from Putnam county reportedly urged Paladino to “give them hell” just before Paladino called out Republican majority leader Dean Skelos a “cowardly bum.”  That’s giving someone hell, all right.

Of course, the optics haven’t been all wrong for Team NRA.  Gun-fans scored a victory when conservative activist Gayle Trotter argued before congress that firearms are a sort of equalizer, allowing women to protect themselves from criminals.

Again, her claims are open to debate.

But she’s clearly a more sympathetic, approachable face for the anti-gun control side of this argument.  If gun fans want to avoid losing ground on this issue, they’ll find more messengers like that, and fewer like Paladino and Nugent.

Right now, gun control advocates have sympathetic, human and non-

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41 Comments on “Carl Paladino and Ted Nugent headline the pro-gun movement”

  1. The Original Larry says:

    So, it’s all about the “optics” and how things “play on TV”, is it? How sad.

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  2. Pete Klein says:

    I believe the most reasonable argument made with reference to the Safe Act has come from the New York State Sheriff’s Association and it position paper. The Sheriff’s don’t go off the deep end and recognize there are some good ideas in the law and question others.
    The Sheriff’s, like many others, question the speed at which the law was passed and wished there had been more input from the public before it was passed.
    While I agree with the Sheriff’s on this point, I also recognize why the governor opted for speed. Obviously he was concerned there would not be any serious debate and those opposed to doing anything would yell, scream and intimidate to make sure nothing was done. You now see this in the extreme reactions taking place.
    Most troubling is the charge that if you support any level of control, you are not a real American.
    Second most troubling is the main idea of owning a gun is to protect yourself from the government of the United States of America. This is just wacky and to me borders on being un-American.

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  3. Jim Bullard says:

    A couple of thoughts. The role of government (citizens acting collectively for the common good) is to create a civil society in which we can trust our neighbors to do the right thing most of the time and have a mechanism of addressing transgressions when they do not (law & courts). Currently the gun lobby and the NRA are acting as an “anti-government” doing their best to convince everyone that they can’t trust their neighbor and that their only safety & security is by having more and bigger weapons, by being armed at all times and mentally prepared to shoot those they see as transgressors. Ironically they talk about returning to being a country of laws even as they threaten to break the law.

    While Larry may sneer at the word “optics” what Brian has said is very much in the vein of “if it looks like a duck…”, etc. Reasonable people presenting arguments in a reasonable manner have broader influence than bomb throwers who tend only to reinforce the convictions of other bomb throwers. The rest of us tend to see the bomb throwers as proof that stronger regulation is needed. That’s a fact. Maybe there is a better word for it than optics but it remains a fact.

    The second thought is in response to Pete’s. I tend to agree that some provisions of NY SAFE go a bit too far. I.E. The rule that you can’t put more than 7 bullets in a 10 bullet magazine is just silly IMO. What comes to mind though is my experience as a teacher. One thing I learned was to start the year with tight rules and loosen them as necessary to have a smooth functioning classroom. Yes, I think there is a parallel here. In starting a new program of regulation it is best to act quickly and firmly then as things start to shake out ease the regulations when and where appropriate. When faced with potential chaos trying to get things under control piecemeal, a little here and a little there over time is a prescription for inaction and a continuation of the current situation if not further deterioration. Sadly the federal government seems poised to follow the latter route, a strategy which I expect to have little to no effect.

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  4. Peter Hahn says:

    This isnt strictly liberal vs conservative. It is more urban vs rural.

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  5. Mervel says:

    Well Brian is correct on this one.

    I think it is broader than gun control, who are these guys? Ted Nugent??? We used to have Bill Buckley make an argument for us, Sarah Palin what happened to Robert Bork (regardless of what you think of him he was accomplished and intellectually gifted)?

    So now the face of conservatives are arguably stupid people the face of the gun rights movement are these cheap sort of people.

    It is optics yes, but it is also telling at some deeper level about the problems with the conservative movement. I think someone maybe on this board or something else I read put it well “Fox News and these type of conservatives don’t care about winning the argument or about winning elections, they care about getting a mailing list.”.

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  6. Brian says:

    I agree with Pete Klein – there are groups out there saying interesting, nuanced things about gun control. The danger is that they’ll get lost behind the Paladinos and the Nugents.

    And Larry – optics have mattered in American politics ever since Betsy Ross sat down to stitch up an American flag.

    The guys throwing tea into Boston harbor weren’t just raging – they were communicating.

    So yes, if gun fans want their message to get heard by about 100 million middle of the road folks who are mostly distracted by other things, they have to have better messengers.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  7. Peter Hahn says:

    from an “optics” perspective, on the one side you have children being mass murdered by psychopaths and sociopaths, and on the other side you have gun owners complaining that having to reload after only 7 shots is a major inconvenience and a violation of their constitutional rights.

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  8. Kathy says:

    Brian, you’ve partially identified the problem.

    There is an elite liberal group that talks down to us common folk. What you see in Nugent is a blatant response to this arrogant attitude.

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  9. JDM says:

    Well, at least we know what happened to Al Gore. The left is hiding that looney.

    I don’t think there will ever be an acceptable conservative spokesperson on any issue. When there is, the media gets scared and attacks them viciously.

    We’ll go with who we have, thanks.

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  10. Rancid Crabtree says:

    So Ted Nugent is a “goofball” and “zany” when he speaks out but Jesse Jackson is using sane, nuanced arguments when he says that people can shoot down airplanes and blow up trains with small arms? Is Nancy Pelosi sounding sane and nuanced when she says she avows the 1st Amendment and people rights to defend themselves? Yes, she said the 1st Amendment. Have you listened to the “nuanced” arguments of the anti-gunners? You can read some of the incredibly “nuanced” arguments in Peters post above- mass killings of children on one side and being inconvenienced on the other. Really?

    How about looking a the other side of the argument? When anyone brings up recent events where gun owners have defended themselves, stopped crimes, stopped what may have been more mass shootings is there any credence given to those reports? When well written articles outlining pro-gun positions are offered are they given careful, nuanced consideration? When data confirming that more gun laws do not equal less gun crime is offered is it given that same careful, nuanced consideration? No, it’s not. It’s met with emotional diatribes about the loss of life, the callous disregard of gun owners, the children, etc. If you put a calm, articulate pro-gun person on a panel (as has been done on several news programs) are they allowed to speak their piece or are they met with the screams and emotional shouting of Peirs Morgan or some other talking head?

    Brian, I’m sure you’re sincere and that’s fine. However, I find it kind of puzzling that you’d bash Ted Nugent and not bash the anti-gunners poster children zany goofballs. Have you actually spent any time listening to such brain trusts as Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg and Ah-nold Schwartzeneger, all who’ve made their millions in shoot-ems ups, go on about their “nuanced” views on guns? Or when Diane Feinstein or Pelosi or Scuhumer spout off do you ever consider they have armed bodyguards to protect them? How much credence should you gine the “do as I say, not as I do” crowd?

    As far as optics, yes, the shattered mother of a victim of a mass shooting certainly pulls at the heart strings. But there are other people out there that didn’t get all the face time who were equally shattered at the loss of their loved ones when they were barred form protecting themselves. One that comes right to ind is the lady who was in the Libby Tx shooting. She was forced by law to leave her gun in her car. IIRC her parents were killed and she could do nothing to stop it. I’ve seen the media response to the few people in similar situations who do go on TV. They are castigated and those who put them on are said to be playing the emotional card. But that’s exactly what you propose in effect- optics demand “you put a face on the problem that feels sympathetic and positive and warm”. Appeal to peoples emotions! Don’t think, just feel! Is that really whats needed Brian?

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  11. Brian says:

    JDM –

    First, if you’re suggesting that Al Gore, a former vice president, US senator and Nobel prize winner is on par with Ted Nugent, then you’re illustrating my eco chamber argument.

    Gore is awkward and muddly — and he may be dead wrong in his thinking — but he’s not an aging rock star who urged a sitting president to suck on his machine gun.

    Second, OF COURSE the right has great and intelligent and charismatic spokespeople and messengers.

    In fact, the Conservative movement used to be so good at this messaging thing that liberals wrote envious books about it.

    In any event, I’m not suggesting that people on the right “must” change messengers. If you’re happy with Paladino and Nugent carrying your flag, good on you.

    I’m merely pointing out that guys like Paladino and Nugent are the kinds of guys who can “preach to the choir” beautifully…but won’t reach anyone else.

    -Brian, NCPR

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  12. Peter Hahn says:

    “How about looking a the other side of the argument? When anyone brings up recent events where gun owners have defended themselves, stopped crimes, stopped what may have been more mass shootings is there any credence given to those reports?”

    This is kinda like reporting the stories of the people whose lives were saved because they werent wearing seat belts.

    What about the gun owners who shot their kids sneaking back into the house?

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  13. Paul says:

    “Right now, gun control advocates have sympathetic, human and non-”

    Brian don’t leave me hanging. Non what?

    I think that most people are paying attention to the reasonable stuff. But maybe this will have the effect you describe.

    Last night they did a good job on that program “Capital tonight” at describing both sides of the issue in a very reasonable way.

    I think in this particular case it may not matter much if you have a nitwit out there on your behalf. This will all boil down to a legal question that will have to be settled by the courts.

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  14. RD says:

    Ted Nugent was my first concert, back in 1979. To open the show, he swung onto the stage on a rope, wearing only a loin cloth and his guitar over his back. He then sang “Cat Scratch Fever”.

    This is the best the NRA can do?

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  15. Kathy says:

    Interesting how liberals are for everything, except what they are not for.

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  16. Peter Hahn says:

    Kathy ????

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  17. Mervel says:

    I am trying to think of a left wing person that would be comparable to Nugent? Possibly Ozzy, he might be liberal? So the comparison in that case would be if the Republicans come up with a second amendment defender such as Bill Kyrstal and the Democrats said we will put Ozzy up there to plead our case.

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  18. wakeup says:

    Fred Dicker deserves anything he gets. The guy is a bum.

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  19. Mervel says:

    Palidino at least is an actual person, very conservative no doubt about it, sometimes I found his straight language somewhat refreshing. However, Nugent is not real, he is a character a fraud a “hollow man” as they say. He is playing a role.

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  20. Jeff says:

    The president said the real media needed to address the cause. I read one of the noted articles CNN’s guests were dickering over whether Nugent should be a cause of its or media attention. It is part of the media. Can media avoid the bait? Nugent is news as much as Kate Middleton or Francis G. Slay. Except some names are better recognized and thus there is an expectation to get watchers or listeners and thus market share.

    On the other hand. There can be value in giving voice to the extremes of a cause to cause pull-back by the middle. The “real press” can take that tack to support the president or a point of view.

    p.s. I think Ted prefers bow and arrow.

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  21. JDM says:

    Me thinks the media is afraid of Marco Rubio.

    “So can a drink of water make or break a political career?” Blitzer asked

    Gee, wolf. President Obama hopes to visit all 57 states. President Obama says, “corPsman”.

    I think Marco Rubio will survive this sip slip.

    Oh. I take that back. He is a weakling. He is stupid. He sips his water. Ignore him!

    I’m probably too late. I think the media fears him.

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  22. Kathy says:

    Peter, Nugent is “outrageous”. I thought liberals were in favor of “anything goes”.

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  23. hermit thrush says:

    I thought liberals were in favor of “anything goes”.

    i really like that. come up with a bunk characterization of your opponents’ views, and them accuse of them of inconsistency/hypocrisy when they fail to conform to it. beautiful.

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  24. Kathy says:

    Hermit, you know full well the liberal position is progress and change. Many do not wish to hear the conservatives “old-fashioned” ideas. The liberals ideas are liberal – but do not allow others to have liberality.

    The liberal mindset is to be open to new ideas and free from prejudice. So what’s wrong with Nugent? I know. The elite group accepts what they approve of.

    It’s time to stop the nit picking. Aren’t we all sick of it? Rubio taking a drink was too “common” for the elites?

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  25. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    There was an announcement in the paper today that Uncle Ted is going to be playing the Glens Falls Civic Center with REO Speedwagon and Styx. See you all there.

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  26. hermit thrush says:

    The liberals ideas are liberal – but do not allow others to have liberality.

    kathy, again, all this shows — along with “Interesting how liberals are for everything, except what they are not for” and “I thought liberals were in favor of ‘anything goes'” — is that you have a very poor conception of what liberals actually think.

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  27. hermit thrush says:

    i can’t help but add, i think the chatter about rubio’s drink has been beyond idiotic. but i also think brian beutler at tpm has it right: it’s really doing rubio a favor, since it takes the focus off the poor content of the speech.

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  28. The Original Larry says:

    It is not so much what liberals think as it is the ridicule and insult they heap on anyone who opposes them. Your only comment on Rubio is “poor content”? What about Obama’s hash of re-heated campaign rhetoric, inaccuracies and cheap appeals to hysterical emotion? No comments on the content of that speech? I don’t wonder why.

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  29. Marcus says:

    What’s wrong with Nugent and Paladino? I think they are perfect spokespersons for the Republicans. Go Ted and Carl!

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  30. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Sorry, it was the Lubbys shooting, not Libbys.

    Ted Nugent is hardly my first choice for a spokesman for my rights, but he was there at the invitation of ONE Congressman and as far as I know was not officially representing the NRA or any other group. That doesn’t change the fact that the antis- parade of weirdos and screaming idiots against the 2nd Amendment include such sane, nuanced intellectuals as Jeneane Garofilo, Rosy O’Donnell, Chris Rock, Joe Scarborough, Alec Baldwin, Moon Unit Zappa, of course Michael Moore, Sarah Silverman, Jamie Foxx, Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett. Tonys recent speech certainly left me wondering just what the poor guy was talking about.

    I suppose the PC way to do things is to find pro-gun celebrities like Tom Selleck and somehow convince them to become sacrificial lambs, as long as “you put a face on the problem that feels sympathetic and positive and warm”. How you put an emotionally neutral face on the subject of guns is beyond me.

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  31. Paul says:

    It is very interesting how this gun control issue has now taken center stage. In a mock debate on SNL they asked the Romney and Obama characters what they were going to do about assault weapons. They both answered – Nothing. At that time that was true for the real candidates. It may be to the GOPs advantage to have some nut jobs out there trying to rile up some fear in the potential moderates. The longer this thing drags on the more political capital it will cost the democrats. Political capital on an issue that wasn’t even on their radar in November.

    My hope is that it will keep them all busy on both sides of the isle so they don’t have time to try and “fix” the economy and mess it up more in the process.

    This is a good thing fro them to all be debating. Have at it.

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  32. Paul says:

    Sorry “for” not “fro”. Although I do suspect this issue will be getting tossed to a fro for sometime.

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  33. Pete Klein says:

    I don’t have any problem with Marco Rubio taking a sip of water. He seems like a nice enough guy. But I bet he wishes he were not the GOP’s latest rising star and I’ll also bet he knows he is not the answer to the problems the GOP has with Hispanics.
    Point one – Hispanics are not the unified group some think they are. To think they are a unified group is as stupid as thinking Europeans are a unified group.

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  34. hermit thrush says:

    larry, kathy was the one who brought up rubio. i was just responding to that. i didn’t mention the president’s speech because doing so would have been tangential. but since you asked, i thought it was quite good. accusing the president of “re-heated campaign rhetoric” makes me wonder how closely you paid attention to either the speech or the campaign, since there was actually a lot in the speech that wasn’t raised (or was only barely raised) during the campaign: pre-k education, the minimum wage, climate change….

    as for “cheap appeals to hysterical emotion,” i know, i know, how dare the president employ strong rhetorical techniques to encourage congress to vote on a compelling issue. (and to be perfectly clear, note that the president’s emotional appeal wasn’t to demagogue the issue, but only to encourage a vote.)

    finally, i’m sorry if sarcasm and ridicule hurts your feelings, but seriously, get over it. i thought righties were supposed to be tougher than that!

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  35. Rancid Crabtree says:

    All I got out of his speech was that he didn’t think anything he proposed was going to cost more than 9 cents. He kept talking about dimes. He’d better have the Treasury stamp out a whole lot more pennys and nickle if he doesn’t want to spend a dime on his multi-trillion dollar projects.

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  36. mervel says:

    I thought his speech was ok. I think it is pretty clear he has no intention of ever really cutting anything from the budget though.

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  37. mervel says:

    I don’t hold that against him, if he actually did cut the federal budget he would be the first president in modern history to do so, why do it when you can keep people happy by spending?

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  38. Rancid Crabtree says:

    Uh….maybe because it’s the right thing to do? I know, I know. Why bother doing whats right and setting the whole nation up for disaster if it means the party might be shown to be the irresponsible tax and spend libs they’ve always been. That’s just crazy talk.

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  39. mervel says:

    What is right? What is right is taking care of the poor and vulnerable. So he is supposed to make a whole bunch of people unemployed and worse off to do what is “right” when we don’t know if it will have any impact at all on future generations. I don’t buy the whole future generations argument.

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  40. mervel says:

    Cutting the deficit means cutting pensions, cutting social security, cutting the military, cutting military pensions, cutting medicare for those over 65, the list goes on, do you get any of those, do you get any government pensions at all including social security? It is always someone else who gets cut, the reality is it is us, we are the ones getting all of this government spending.

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  41. Rancid Crabtree says:

    It doesn’t mean any of that Mervel if they would take a long term view of things. Yeah, SS is going to change no matter if it’s Obama or some guy 10 years down the road. The military is going to get cut until we need them again. They are already talking about cutting Medicare. What they aren’t talking about is cutting the pork spending, cutting the Congressional perks and lavish lifestyle on the tax payers dime. We aren’t taking care of our vets now! And make no mistake brother, you and I are going to not only bear the brunt of the cuts, we’re going to see our taxes pop through the roof. Will that make you happy?

    You said it yourself, “…why do it when you can keep people happy by spending?” It’s vote buying with tax payer dollars Mervel. Anyone with even a shred of character should be able to see that it’s wrong.

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