For the past five years, the sad, washed-up, erstwhile rock star Ted Nugent has been part of the fraternity of older Republican celebrities – also including Jon Voight, Chuck Norris, Victoria Jackson and, of course, Donald Trump- who can’t stop saying vicious, hyberbolic, often quasi-racist things about President Obama.
Whether they’re calling the president a “false prophet” who “rapes this nation” (Voight), promising “1000 years of darkness” upon the president’s reelection (Norris), writing ridiculous songs (Jackson), or delivering birth certificate conspiracies that garner nearly as much media attention as the real candidates in the 2012 cycle (Trump), the din of celebrities ranting against the president has been an annoying, occasionally amusing sideshow of the Obama years.
Ted Nugent, though, may be the most prolific and vicious of the bunch; the “politics” section of his Wikipedia page runs over 1,300 words and more than 15 paragraphs. Among other favorites, Nugent erroneously predicted, in mid-2012 that “I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year” in the event of an Obama re-election.
When one of those people spouts off, it’s usually a one-day story, treated for point-and-giggle guffaws by the Rachel Maddows of the world while also approvingly forwarded by your favorite uncle.
But for some reason the latest comments by Nugent have had legs. Speaking last month at a hunting show in Las Vegas, Nugent referred to the president of the United States as “a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama.”
I suppose Nugent deserves credit for acknowledging that the president was raised somewhere besides Kenya, but even that’s wrong- communist or not, Obama was not “raised” in Chicago, and did not move there until after graduating from law school.
At any rate, these comments by a 65-year-old, decades-past-his-prime musician have had unexpected political effects, with various Republican elected officials who have campaigned with Nugent having to choose whether to publicly distance themselves from the singer. Some (like Sen. Rand Paul) have, while others (Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott) have not.
Nugent, for his part, issued a less-than-sincere apology, stating in a series of tweets that ““I apologize for using the term,” but that he should have said “violator of his oath to the Constitution” instead.
In steps Politico, the DC-based newspaper and website known for applying the who won/who lost horserace template to any and all political stories. Here’s how Politico sees the Nugent issue:
To some Republican activists, he’s a celebrity defender of the Second Amendment who rallies the base like the rock star he once was.
To Democrats and mainstream Republicans, he’s a sexual “predator,” an affront to families and a flamethrower with an appalling record of incendiary comments.
See, it’s all a difference of opinion! Both sides see it different ways!
Is anyone else sick of this namby-pamby, split-the-difference neutrality in political coverage? Some people think it’s good to call the black president a “subhuman mongrel.” Some people think it’s bad. But who are we to judge? Better call it down the middle.
I think treating hateful, borderline-racist comments by a has-been singer isn’t in any way deserving of such impartiality. If anything, it should be totally ignored.
Nugent has become famous mostly for hunting various unarmed animals and pissing off liberals with his insane reactionary rants — rants aimed specifically at pissing off liberals. For some off reason, he’s been given a shocking amount of pop culture cachet over the last several years, mostly because of his paleoconservative views and willingness to say anything to provoke those pussies on the left. It reached a point of critical mass during the Obama era and certainly over the past few weeks. In the recent past, whenever Nugent said something racist, xenophobic, or simply crazy — or when he made threats against the Obama administration — Fox News would giggle with delight, the Tea Party idiots would wrap their meaty white arms around him, and the left would shake its fists. But with Nugent’s remark that Obama is a“subhuman mongrel,” CNN decided to devote most of the week to taking him apart piece by piece and, in the process, give him the airtime and increased relevancy he so badly desires.
Nugent has now apologized for the comment — sort of — but it hardly matters. The goal in putting it out there has been accomplished. Once again, people are paying attention to Ted Nugent for some fucking reason. I realize that by writing about him I’m kind of negating the point I’m trying to make here, but it still needs to be said to those much more powerful than an idiot like me: Stop paying attention to Ted Nugent. For God’s sake, who gives a shit about anything he has to say, other than the farthest right of the right-wing.
Alyssa Rosenberg, meanwhile, argues persuasively that Republicans deserve a better class of celebrities than the clowns mentioned above.