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Nugent, Maher and the Silly Season Nugent, Maher and the Silly Season

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Nugent, Maher and the Silly Season

You know the presidential campaign already has reached the silly stage when there are calls for the presumptive Republican nominee to repudiate Ted Nugent.

Nugent is, after all, an aging rock star from Detroit by way of Crazytown, USA, best known for his ode to promiscuity called "Cat Scratch Fever." He has reinvented himself as a minor celebrity in the Republican Party by spewing noxious political tirades instead of noxious lyrics.

Most recently, Nugent took to the stage at the National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis to promote Mitt Romney, his presidential pick, and condemn the "vile, evil, America-hating administration." He added, "If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year."

Fighting words, no doubt, laced with an extra dose of vitriol. But, considering the source, hardly cause for publicly vented outrage from the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who demanded that Romney denounce his guitar-toting supporter. The ginned-up controversy comes at the same time Republicans are saying the president should decry a crude remark by television host Bill Maher and instruct a pro-Obama super PAC to return his $1 million donation.

These incidents raise questions about how much responsibility candidates bear when supporters make tone-deaf, inflammatory statements. At a time when just about any self-promoter can find a way to get on TV or be  or be an Internet sensation, when a rich donor can have an outsized influence on a campaign through a super PAC, those questions grow more pertinent and complicated than ever.

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