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Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson Made Fun of a Republican Congressional Candidate Who Lost an Eye Serving in Afghanistan and the NRCC Is Not Having It

Pete Davidson sits in front of a photo of congressional candidate Dan Crenshaw, who wears an eyepatch because of injuries sustained while serving in Afghanistan.
Don’t do it, Pete! NBC

Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson reportedly canceled a planned sketch this week about his breakup with Ariana Grande, after she got mad at him for making a joke about it earlier in the week. If his “Weekend Update” appearance on Saturday was a last-minute substitution for the original plan, he may be wishing he’d gone scorched-earth and risked his ex’s wrath instead, because now he’s pissed off a significantly larger portion of the country than Ariana Grande, who is, after all, just one person. Davidson ran into trouble while talking about Dan Crenshaw, a Republican veteran running for congress in Texas’ 2nd district, in a segment about Davidson’s impressions of midterm candidates. Crenshaw is a former Navy SEAL who lost an eye to an IED while serving in Afghanistan. He’s also a Republican running for office in Texas, which means his campaign website is chock full of hilariously terrible policy positions on everything from gun control to immigration. Let’s see what Pete Davidson focuses on:

Oh no! Here are his complete comments on Crenshaw:

This guy’s kind of cool: Dan Crenshaw. You may be surprised to hear he’s a congressional candidate from Texas, and not a hitman in a porno movie. I’m sorry, I know he lost his eye in war or whatever. Whatever!

Making fun of the way someone looks is a risky business to begin with, which Davidson acknowledges by deftly roasting his own appearance at the end—“I look like I make vape juice in a bathtub!”—but making fun of a veteran for aspects of their appearance that come from getting injured while serving in the military? You can probably guess how that went over and you’ll probably guess right. National Republican Congressional Committee spokesperson Jack Pandol demanded an apology from Davidson and NBC in a statement that alluded to Davidson’s recent breakup:

Getting dumped by your pop star girlfriend is no excuse for lashing out at a decorated war hero who lost his eye serving our country. Pete Davidson and NBC should immediately apologize to Dan, and to the millions of veterans and military families who tune in every week—because they’re not laughing.

Even Donald Trump Jr. got into the game, tweeting, “The sad thing is that this sounds more like leftist editorial than anything these days,” whatever that was supposed to mean. Crenshaw himself was more circumspect, writing on Twitter that he made a habit of not taking personal offense while making clear he thought Davidson had crossed a line:

TMZ spoke to Crenshaw, who said that, pace the NRCC, he didn’t want an apology from Davidson or NBC, but wanted them to recognize that “veterans across the country probably don’t feel as though their wounds that they received in battle should be the subject of a bad punchline for a bad joke.” He went on to say that the “real atrocity” in the segment was that the joke wasn’t funny:

Regardless of the merits of Davidson’s joke, Republicans are not as well-situated to turn it to their political advantage as they would have been before they embraced Donald Trump, who famously disparaged John McCain’s military service, accused a Gold Star widow of lying after he botched a condolence call, implied that a different Gold Star family opposed him because they supported terrorists, and who is currently using the entire military as a prop in his vicious campaign of racist fearmongering. Still, it’s tacky to make fun of anyone’s appearance, much less their war injury, and Davidson’s mean-spirited comments mean his chances of winning on Tuesday have plummeted from 0% to an abysmal 0%. It turns out he’s not running for office.