The biggest national politics story in Texas when I was there? No question: Ted Nugent’s campaign swing with Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott. I didn’t cover it, but people kept asking me whether I planned to, given that talk radio was chattering about it and Democrats were asking everyone they could to denounce it.
The Democrats’ gambit worked. They focused on one comment, from Nugent, that had not received too much attention before—Nugent had called the president a “Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel.” Had Nugent simply called Obama a communist, he’d have kept the ball on the green; the “mongrel” remark did him in.
In similar situations, Republicans have rallied behind celebrities when the media started their Scandalous Comments stories. Nugent hasn’t seen a rally. Rand Paul has called on him to apologize. Ted Cruz and Rick Perry have denounced him. But the most interesting denunciation might come from Wes Pruden at the Washington Times. Nugent, to Pruden, was an “aging rock musician with a loose mouth who was semifamous 40 years ago.”
That long ago? Only a year ago, he filed a special column for the Washington Times. Before that, for a few years, he published a weekly column. That’s why the de-Nugent-ing of the GOP, if that’s what’s happening, feels genuinely surprising. Is it the content of the comment—especially in Texas? Is Nugent the unlucky winner on the Wheel-of-Repudiation, which skipped the last umpteen conservative figures who stumbled into gaffe stories?