Conservatives Eat Up the Duck Commander Show

If you ever get so frustrated with partisan gridlock and ideological warfare that you tempted to go all Ron Fournier and accuse “both sides” of being equally at fault, here’s a thought experiment for you: can you imagine a major, mainstream event in the Democratic presidential invisible primary including the functional equivalent of Phil Robertson as a speaker, given equal (if not superior) billing to people who might become president?

I mean, we’re talking about a guy who’s only there because he got in trouble for the public expression of deep, metaphysical hostility to gay people. But now that it turns out he’s got a lot more offensive and oddball things to say about other topics, he’s being cheered to the rafters:

Addressing the annual gathering of conservatives, Robertson hit on a number of popular right-wing talking points, including his allegiance to the Bible and his disdain for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). The speech took a turn, however, when the “Duck Dynasty” patriarch began lamenting the United States’ high incidence of STIs.

“You lose your religion, according to John Adams, and there goes your morality. We’re almost there,” Robertson said. “I hate to admit I got my facts from the CDC the day before yesterday, 110 million, 110 million Americans now have a sexually transmitted illness.”

Robertson was citing a 2013 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis that found there are approximately 110 million cases of sexually transmitted infections among American men and women.

“I don’t want you, America, to get sick,” he continued. “I don’t want you to become ill. I don’t want you to come down with a debilitating disease. I don’t want you to die early. You’re disease free and she’s disease free, you marry, you keep your sex right there. You won’t get sick from a sexually transmitted disease.”

According to Robertson, the “beatniks” and “hippies” are to blame.

If you watch the whole thing, before he punches hippies, Robertson did an extensive series of readings from the Gospel According to David Barton, whereby the Founders were determined to create a Christian commonwealth that’s now being imperiled by government tyranny. As a “Bible-believing gun-toting capitalist,” the Duck Commander portrayed himself as a man persecuted for his religion (you know, the nine days he was suspended–not by government, but by his television network–from appearing on Duck Dynasty). He’s certainly out for vengeance now. And if anyone at CPAC was upset by his remarks, they kept pretty quiet about it.

I’m actually struggling to come up with an equivalent Democrats could even consider so lionizing. And lest anyone say Robertson is just a novelty act or an entertainer, look at the fervent competition between 2016 presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal to see who’s his biggest defender.

Maybe Robertson can play the same role at the 2016 Republican National Convention as Clint Eastwood played last time around.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.