Last week, I got an email from Wendy Davis's campaign, telling me that I should be outraged that Greg Abbott, a candidate for governor (and current attorney general of my fine home state of Texas) was palling around with noted idiot, sexist, racist nutbag Ted Nugent. My immediate reaction? Good. Seriously.
So why was I so blissfully blasé about this supposedly horrific violation of sanity? Well, first of all because OF COURSE Abbott is tooling around with Nugent. I was pretty surprised someone at the Davis campaign actually gave two shits what a noted windbag like Nugent was doing with their rival. My old school knee-jerk "UGH WHY IS THIS NEWS" reaction reared its ugly head and I made that face you always make when one of your parents calls and asks you "did you see the outfit that Miley Cyrus is wearing in her music concert?"
Abbott is a Tea Party-totler; a guy who once told me, in a room filled with Tea Party supporters (all white, all well over the age of 50) that there was "plenty" of diversity in the Tea Party. He is the embodiment of political cluelesness. He has completely bought into the total bullshit that faction of his party is selling, and he did not hang on to the receipt so he could exchange it later.
So yeah. Of course he's hanging out with Nugent. It probably seemed like a good idea within the campaign, too. A senior campaign official with Abbott said Nugent was brought on to increase attendance at Abbott's appearances. And apparently it worked; according to Time, attendance tripled at a recent event when Nugent was announced as a guest.
But secondly—and most importantly—there is no way that this would be anything but a huge, beautiful disaster. And that's pretty much what the pairing of Abbott and Nugent has become.
As Slate points out, it didn't take long for the Abbott-Nugent relationship to delightfully implode. (Are you even surprised at what you're about to read?). Of course, everything has to do with some painfully stupid (yet completely unsurprising) comments Nugent made about President Barack Obama in an interview last month with Guns.com:
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.
Wow, seriously, who would have thought an interview with GUNS.COM would go off the rails somehow! "Mongrel." OOF. I have a pretty high tolerance for people who are angry at the current political leadership (yeah, I get it—he didn't close Guantanamo Bay and he dragged his heels on Don't Ask Don't Tell and HE WEARS MOM JEANS. Our Liberal expectations were not fully met. It's OK. You can be a little pissed about that).
But "MONGREL"??? What in the actual fuck? Just what in the hell is actually going through a person's mind when they call a black man "mongrel?" Oh wait! I know—racism! Lots and lots of racism.
So,normally what tends to happen in these situations is that some right-wing jerkass will make a horribly racist/insensitve "UN-P.C." comment and then pretty much everyone in the Republican party rushes to their defense because that's just how they roll, I guess.
But not this time. See, a funny thing happened. This time, Republicans are trying to distance themselves from "the Nuge" (UGH THIS NICKNAME UGH):
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?
Even Fox News isn't hesitating to call this a total disaster:
Abbott, who's been state attorney general since 2002 and boasts of suing the federal government 30 times, has essentially run a general-election campaign from the start. Abbott said inviting Nugent magnified a contrast with his Democratic opponent, who has made her pitch for conservative voters by coming out in favor of "open carry" gun laws before qualifying her stance. But the Nugent appearance left Abbott on the defensive for one of the first times in the race.
"I don't know what he may have said or done in his background," Abbott said following a rally with Nugent on Tuesday. "What I do know is Ted Nugent stands for the constitution. He stands against the federal government overreaching and doing what they're doing to harm Texans."
Eventually, Abbot offered a meek-ish apology, without having to come right out and say "I'm so sorry I dragged this crazy, sexist, racist dick into a political campaign":
Nugent, who has also suggested treating immigrants like "indentured servants," had apologized earlier Friday for the Obama slur after it was disavowed by [Governor Perry[ and [Senator Paul]. But Abbott, who until now had claimed ignorance about Nugent's divisive comments, didn't back away from inviting Nugent to rallies in the first place.
"This is not the kind of language I would use or endorse in any way. It's time to move beyond this, and I will continue to focus on the issues that matter to Texans," Abbott said via press release.
Even more spectacular? The Nuge himself issued an apology, albeit one of the most half-assed non-apology apologies ever in the history of time:
Nugent said he apologizes "for using the streetfighter terminology of 'subhuman mongrel' instead of just using more understandable language, such as 'violator of his oath to the Constitution'."
"I do apologize–not necessarily to the President–but on behalf of much better men than myself," Nugent told conservative radio and CNN commentator host Ben Ferguson.
*Sigh* OK, whatever, dude. Thanks for...that.
Like I said in the beginning, I can't say that I'm all that bothered by this whole mess. Mainly because I wonder if Wendy Davis has the same smile on her face after reading all of this that I do after writing it?
Image via AP Images.