John F. Kennedy once told a White House gathering of Nobel prize winners that it was “the most extraordinary collection of talent” to meet for dinner there, “with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
On Thursday, after they posted pictures on Facebook and Twitter, news of the gathering drew mocking and scorn from Trump detractors and a defense of the gathering from those who were there.
Palin, appearing on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” said that Trump invited her to come to the White House and to bring guests. “Jesus was booked,” she said.
So she invited Nugent and Kid Rock, calling them “some bold, courageous, all-American dudes who I knew would have good conversation with the president and get to express a lot of good, middle-class, work-ethic-type issues.”
Nugent, on a hunting blog, wrote that “we discussed specifically the counterproductive follies of the Endangered Species Act and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, BLM and other out of control bureaucracies.”
But they also appeared to savor a portrait of their 2016 nemesis, Hillary Clinton, whose portrait hangs in the White House along with other former first ladies. A picture of the three posing before her portrait was posted to Palin’s Facebook page.
“The picture says it all,” she told Tapper.
It’s certainly not unusual for a president to dine at the White House with celebrities. The Obamas entertained Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, among others, while the Clintons routinely invited Hollywood figures for overnight stays in the Lincoln Bedroom.
All three of Trump’s celebrity guests campaigned for him, but it is Nugent who has become known in the political realm for particularly incendiary comments. He once referred to President Barack Obama as a “subhuman mongrel,” but he denied that he was being racist.
Drew Courtney, communications director for the progressive group People for the American Way, said that “no one who has pushed this type of racist, violent rhetoric should be welcomed into the White House to meet with the president. It shows just how low this administration will go in pandering to right-wing extremism.”