- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 20, 2014

Loose lips sink ships, we were told during World War II, when the North Atlantic was a maze of ships taking food and arms to England with German submarines in hot pursuit, sinking ships faster than Henry J. Kaiser could build them.

Loose lips can sink political campaigns, too. Republican lips, sometimes operated from the hips, can be loose, indeed.

The Groggy Old Party thought it had a lock on taking back the Senate two years ago. But certain Republican candidates yearned to be gynecologists, and instead of talking about jobs, taxes and health care, conducted seminars on female plumbing.

Loose talk by the quacks was catching. Quackery of other kinds followed in other places. Goodbye to sure-fire victories in Missouri and Indiana, following blunders in Nevada and Delaware. Harry Reid survived the assault of the blunderbuss regiment.

Candidates of all persuasions, Democrats no less than Republicans, have to be careful who they’re seen in public with. Greg Abbott is the Republican attorney general of Texas and every oddsmaker’s favorite for promotion to governor in November.

He invited an aging rock musician with a loose mouth who was semifamous 40 years ago to campaign with him the other day, and now he wishes he hadn’t.

Ted Nugent made his living saying outrageous things and setting some of them to guitar music, and he still can’t resist anyone with a pencil or a microphone. He obviously thinks he’s as important as his surviving fans think he is, and in an interview with Guns.com, he blamed himself for Barack Obama.

“I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame, enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America.”

No office-seeker needs help from someone with a mouth like that, and the flummoxed Abbott campaign staggered through the first news cycle until it bowed, as any novice pol would have known, to the inevitable. CNN reported that Mr. Abbott would no longer use the rabble-rocker at public events. But he wouldn’t specifically disavow the characterization of President Obama as “a subhuman mongrel.”

“While [Ted Nugent] may sometimes say things or use language that Greg Abbott would not endorse or agree with,” a campaign aide told The Dallas Morning News, “we appreciate the support of everyone who supports our Constitution.”

The confusion in the Abbott campaign follows a particularly bad patch of media for Wendy Davis, expected to be Mr. Abbott’s Democratic opponent. The Dallas Morning News, which wields a big stick in Texas politics, found discrepancies in the glowing but factually challenged Davis campaign biography, and a long accounting of her early stumbles followed last Sunday in The New York Times Sunday Magazine.

Nothing recedes like success, and in politics success recedes with lightning swiftness. The Dallas newspaper turned its focus this week on Greg Abbott and his poor judgment of campaign allies.

Mr. Abbott wants to portray the Nugent incident as a controversy encouraged by people who don’t like guns, that if you like guns you have to like Greg Abbott, no matter who his friends are.

“There are two things you have to do to win public office in Texas,” Christy Hoppe, the state capital bureau chief of The Morning News, tells CNN, “and that’s how to lead in prayer and know how to shoot a gun. Greg Abbott has done both, and he’s underscoring his credentials there by inviting Ted Nugent.”

The rocker is obviously an acquired taste, and the bluster and vulgarity that outrages the church-going Texas culture only feeds the frenzy anywhere rocker fans congregate.

The Abbott campaign was thrilled when Mr. Nugent attracted 300 fans to an appearance where only 100 were expected.

Tod Robberson, another Morning News editorialist, writes that Mr. Nugent calls women “fat pigs” and describes as “beautiful” sex with underage girls. “Those are the family values Greg Abbott wants represented on the stage with him as he campaigns.”

It’s difficult to imagine Wendy Davis actually winning the governorship in Texas, or to imagine that guns for Texas need the endorsement of a rock musician, and a Yankee to boot.

Texas is among the reddest of the red states. But the Nugent controversy should be a caution for Gregg Abbott and the Republicans. It’s still a long way to November, and the road to success is paved with potholes.

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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