Here’s the short version: Last week, Greg Abbott, a Republican running for Texas governor, shared the campaign spotlight with Ted Nugent, who was once known for his hard-rock lifestyle and is now famous for extreme comments.
Extreme? You bet.
The most recent of a long list of slurs against prominent Democrats came last month when Nugent called President Barack Obama a “subhuman mongrel.”
Right on cue, the Abbott campaign was forced to respond to questions which boiled down to: Is the candidate -- whose day job is Texas attorney general -- comfortable sharing a stage with has-been rocker prone to inflammatory rhetoric? However the campaign planned to use the appearance with Nugent, we’re confident strategists didn’t intend to waste time responding to the harsh language of Ted Nugent.
"While he may sometimes say things or use language that Greg Abbott would not endorse or agree with, we appreciate the support of everyone who supports protecting our Constitution," a campaign spokesman said. So, we should assume Abbott wouldn’t necessarily call Hillary Clinton a “worthless bitch,” as Nugent has. (On Friday, Nugent kinda-sorta apologized for the subhuman mongrel” remark.)
This episode along with several others in recent weeks illustrates that some of us need refreshers on lessons our grandmothers taught us.
Surely a grandmother or some other trusted figure in Abbott’s life told him, “'You are known by the company you keep.” That same grandma also uttered some form of this classic, “If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.”
Abbott should have listened more closely.
On to example No. 2.
Grandmas, preachers, school teachers and the like aren’t afraid to speak this Old Testament wisdom on impressionable ears: “Be sure your sins will find you out.”
Brent Bozell should have kept that phrase framed somewhere on his desk. Bozell, the president of the Media Research Center, doesn’t think much of most members of the U.S. news media, claiming they are unfair liberals who are, in his own words, "dumb," "dishonest" and "lazy.”
Earlier this month media reporter Jim Romenesko broke the news that while the “conservative Media Research Center often urges liberal news outlets to TELL THE TRUTH,” the “press watchdog isn’t telling the truth about its own leader: Brent Bozell doesn’t write the syndicated column that appears under his byline.”
Romenesko’s report continues, “It is longtime MRC media analysis director Tim Graham who writes ‘almost everything published under [Bozell's] name,’ a former MRC employee tells me in an email. ‘That includes his weekly column. Same goes for his books, which at least carry Graham’s name in a secondary billing, but also aren’t written by Bozell (but Bozell keeps 80-90% of the advance and all profits!)’ ”
We can hear millions of mothers sighing that this is a case of “Do as I say, not as I do.”
That brings us to one more example. Jacquielynn Floyd, a columnist for the Dallas Morning News, recently shared a story from a weekend visit to the grocery store. On the way out of the story she came across Girl Scouts selling cookies.
Floyd picks up the sad tale:
“The girl, who was no older than about 9, hopefully approached a woman shopper, asking if she would like to buy cookies.
“The woman answered loudly: ‘I don’t contribute to groups that support abortion!’ She fixed the girl and her mom with an angry, bug-eyed marmoset stare.
“The unhappy mom said, stammering, ‘Really, that’s not true. I’ve researched it myself. It really isn’t true.’
“The angry woman talked right over her: ‘I’ll never give a nickel of my money to a pro-abortion group! Never!’ ”
Floyd described the scene of frightened Girl Scouts cowed by an angry bully as “awful.”
The columnist’s advice: “You do not engage in political arguments about contentious, adult topics with unsuspecting children, ever.”
That fine, but granny said it better, “If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.”
Bob Davis is associate publisher/editor of The Anniston Star. Contact him at 256-235-3540 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: EditorBobDavis.