For a guy who helped lead his country on a wildly reckless, politically radical journey to the brink of financial disaster, U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent can seem pretty reasonable.
Let's just talk this thing over, the Spring Hill Republican said, for example, in a statement posted early last week on his House website (nugent.house.gov) called Debt Ceiling Mechanics Explained.
Title aside, it's actually pretty engaging, kind of like a friendly, old-fashioned, George Bailey-style banker sitting down to explain that you have just a little problem with your checking account.
After all, the federal budget works pretty much the same way, Nugent wrote, and this time of year there isn't a lot of money coming in. And not raising the debt ceiling (this was before Wednesday's deal) would mean we'd have a harder time getting money into the account and, so, "not all of our bills … will necessarily get paid on time."
Now, that won't "usher in Armageddon" the way "people on the other side" would have you believe. But, sure, it's not good, Nugent allowed. He even said it was a "sad time" in this country.
So sad, in fact, that he's fed up. That's been a theme of his since this government shutdown thing started. He knows how we're feeling and he feels the same. And by the time a deal was reached, he'd had more than enough of the whole mess, according to a statement from his office on Thursday:
"To say this has been a frustrating period for this country is a masterpiece of understatement. Everybody is angry and nothing material has been done to move this country in a better direction."
And that's the reason he voted "no," he said. Not because he still thought the Republicans had a chance to defund Obamacare, but because the deal "doesn't reform anything — nothing. It simply leaves the nation's finances in the same sorry state they were before."
Sounds sensible, doesn't it? Sounds almost like good, old Sheriff Nugent, whom you'd see in Publix and yak with for a half-hour.
Until, that is, you remember what this legislation did do. It got the government running again. It opened parks, put federal researchers back on the job and Head Start teachers back in classrooms.
It ended a strategy so harebrained and destructive that the our biggest creditor, China, suggested it's time to end global reliance on the dollar and that left even people in Greece — Greece! — feeling pretty good about their own national financial affairs.
It ensured solvency and averted default.
And Nugent voted against it. He voted against ending this craziness and for letting it carry on indefinitely.
So, no, Nugent didn't put himself on the fringe of the fringe. He didn't grandstand like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, or speak the pure idiocy of Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville, who said that not raising the debt ceiling could be a good thing.
But Nugent peddled some of the same nonsense, such as that this mess was Obama's fault. He faked the same outrage over embarrassing scenes (vets, wheelchairs, World War II monument) that he'd helped create.
And, most importantly, he cast a vote that will allow him to keep on pandering to know-nothing tea party constituents.
Yes, Nugent sounds reasonable enough. But last week, he had the chance to do something reasonable. And he didn't.