Monday, May 28, 2018
Politics

Rep. Rich Nugent shows signs of being flexible

This being gift-giving season, it's a good time to look back at the very generous present Ginny Brown-Waite gave U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent as she left Congress two years ago.

It wasn't just an inside track to the Republican nomination. Barring a major scandal — unlikely, given Nugent's history — it should be a guaranteed job for as long as he wants it.

The new, somewhat revised version of the district Brown-Waite left him goes from an ever-so-slightly bruised red in Hernando County, where losing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney took 54 percent of the vote, to a flaming sports-car crimson in other counties — especially Sumter, home of the Villages retirement mecca, where Romney won 67.2 percent of the vote.

So, obviously, Nugent couldn't go wrong by going right.

On foreign policy, he's been Dick Cheney. He shares his last name and his position on gun legislation with Ted Nugent. When asked to choose between the interests of the environment and corporations, he picked big business every time.

He signed Grover Norquist's no-new-taxes pledge and the Contract from America that calls for an end to the Internal Revenue Service. And so as not to alienate any supporters of any far-out revenue proposal, he also backed the thoroughly unfair fair tax.

For two years, this was fine because the entire GOP had scrambled so far to the right that some of the harshest criticism Nugent received from constituents was for sticking with the hard-line leadership in the 2011 debt ceiling fight. At a town meeting, a voter stood up and accused him of being too flexible.

But now?

Well, Republican superstar Sen. Marco Rubio recently gave a speech so sympathetic to janitors and landscapers it seemed like he just might borrow party maverick Mike Fasano's line about the "little guy and gal."

The unofficial tea party boss in the U.S. Senate, Jim DeMint, R-S.C., plans to exile himself to a right-wing think tank.

And Nugent's boss, House Speaker John Boehner, is giving at least a few signs that in this round of debt talks he really might be flexible.

So is Nugent in a tight spot? Can he see the walls closing in, his hard-right constituents on one side and a seemingly more moderate Republican leadership on other?

Of course not.

This is a guy who was just re-elected with nearly 65 percent of the vote, who was so intimidating to legitimate Democrats that his opponent was best known for sitting on a flag pole.

If Nugent needs to make some slight adjustments — if he has to come up with a more nuanced approach than shoveling red meat to the old lions in the Villages — I'm betting he will.

Maybe he already has. When the Times' Tony Marrero asked for Nugent's views on the "fiscal cliff," it took him a full week to respond, and then he boldly stated he wouldn't want to say anything to undermine party leaders. In a statement on Friday, he emphasized how darn reasonable they were being compared to the president.

And remember, Nugent was a moderate, community-minded sheriff before he transformed into a tea party-friendly U.S. representative.

When he wants to hold on to a job, he can be very flexible.

Comments
Former President George H.W. Bush hospitalized in Maine

Former President George H.W. Bush hospitalized in Maine

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Former President George H.W. Bush was hospitalized Sunday in Maine after he experienced low blood pressure and fatigue, a spokesman said. Just after 2 p.m., Jim McGrath, a spokesman for the 93-year-old Bush, said he was awak...
Published: 05/27/18
More LGBT issues loom as justices near wedding cake decision

More LGBT issues loom as justices near wedding cake decision

WASHINGTON — A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through courts and will continue, no matter the outcome in the Supreme Court’s highly anticipated decision in the case of a Colorado baker who would not create a wedding cake for a s...
Published: 05/26/18
Carlton: Sometimes taxpayers pay for not doing the right thing

Carlton: Sometimes taxpayers pay for not doing the right thing

I may have cracked the code. Found a way to sell doing the right thing. Discovered a method of persuasion in certain matters of fairness, conscience and the greater good.Like giving our fellow Americans a second chance.When morality-based arguments d...
Published: 05/26/18
North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

PUNGGYE-RI, North Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made good on his promise to demolish his country’s nuclear test site, which was formally closed in a series of huge explosions Thursday as a group of foreign journalists looked on. The explosi...
Published: 05/24/18
Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

President Donald Trump’s decision to block his Twitter followers for their political views is a violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying that Trump’s effort to silence his critics is not permissible under the U.S. Con...
Published: 05/23/18
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Published: 05/23/18
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18