Feature

Why won’t the GOP reject Nugent?

The former rock star and outspoken gun rights advocate outdid himself last week.

Peter Wehner
CommentaryMagazine.com

Ted Nugent is a “repulsive figure” with a long history of saying “awful things,” said Peter Wehner. The former rock star and outspoken gun rights advocate outdid himself last week when he called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” on a Texas radio show. Nugent, who has been campaigning with Republican Greg Abbott in his race to be the next governor of Texas, later made a halfhearted apology. To call a mixed-race president “subhuman” and a “mongrel” is not simple rhetorical excess; it’s borrowing the racist terminology of “Nazi Germany and the Jim Crow South,” and Nugent should now be a pariah. But Republicans who’ve cozied up to Nugent in the past, including Abbott, Gov. Rick Perry, and Sen. Ted Cruz, merely distanced themselves from Nugent’s words—not Nugent himself. Some conservatives, meanwhile, muttered about “media double standards.” The fact that Republicans refuse to denounce Nugent sends a clear message to voters: Either they really aren’t offended by his calling Obama a “subhuman mongrel” or they’re afraid of alienating segments of their base who share Nugent’s repellent views. And either explanation “is an indictment.”

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