State & Local Politics

The Republican value-voters straw poll and the Ted Nugent Republicans

I found it interesting that one commentator claimed that Paul and Palin did not belong together because Palin was just another RINO, a Republican in Name Only. It’s a good phrase and one I have always associated with Ted Nugent, the madcap Michigan rocker with a conservative political bent. But Uncle Ted is totally in love with Palin. I heard him call to comment on a radio show a month or so ago when Palin was being interviewed about gun laws in Alaska. “God bless you, Sarah Palin,” was his comment.

The Republican Value Voters conference in Washington this week will hold a straw poll on the still long-away 2012 presidential election. It should be useful in cutting through the ambiguity and denial about the various grassroots movements around the country. In a poll six months ago, Palin and Paul came in tied for second, behind Mitt Romney. Romney will come back as we get closer to 2012, but he should sink some this weekend because of his association with healthcare insurance as governor of Massachusetts.

The brooding ambiguity in the heartland has both Jeffersonian aspects (Ron Paul) and Jacksonian aspects (Sarah Palin). Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry registers in on both of these. All three might be categorized as Ted Nugent Republicans to varying degree and manifestation.

The straw poll at the Value Voters conference should give some indication about the Nuge Factor that is rattling some traditional Republicans. Nugent was the star of the show in some of the Texas “tea party” rallies on April 15. Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, was sent almost to seizures when a purely conservative crowd started chanting “Ron Paul, Ron Paul, Ron Paul … ” to the tune of “USA, USA, USA … ” during one of his speeches. Paul is not a Republican, Graham shouted back at the group.

This could actually be a creative cauldron for Republicans, if they can get past the fear factor, and it could be a winning new direction. They are playing with a bunch of brand-new ideas; tax reform, Austrian economics, state sovereignty under the 10th Amendment, opposition to “one-size-fits-all federalism.” If this got out of hand it could be bad, but if these ideas were properly modified, unified and organized it could indeed make — as Rick Perry phrased it not long ago — for a more perfect union.

In the end, that might be a job for Mitt Romney. That is what he does. As president and CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympics, he turned the legendary Robbie (“The Band”) Robertson’s free-form but delightful hippie fest into a masterwork of sports and entertainment.

Visit Mr. Quigley’s website at

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