American Kook Extremism: Ted Nugent, in spades

Posted in Extremism, Stumble and Fail, Ted Nugent at 10:45 am by George Smith

If you’ve wondered why the blog devotes more and more time to Ted Nugent, here’s why.

I use him as a very public face of American crazy extremism. And you can judge its mainstreaming by how Nugent’s currency as a pundit rises and drops and where it does so.

Paradoxically, when Ted Nugent actually sold records and was a leading draw in American arenas, such extremism was unacceptable in the mainstream. Uncivil, polarizing, vindictive and irrational, it never really had a place in Nugent’s act. If Nugent actually was the depressingly mean foaming-at-the-mouth nuts guy then that he is now, he kept a tight lid on it. It had no place, even in rock music magazines or, oddly, the embarrassing-for-different-reasons VH1 Behind the Music documentary on him about a decade ago.

How he went from being the young man jumping off the top of his amplifier stack in the video embedded here a few days ago to furiously screwed-up geezer is a story that cries out to be told. What was it that curdled Ted Nugent so thoroughly?

Anyway, the elevation of Nugent-style thinking to the commonplace in politics and public debate is one symptom, among many, of the colossal failure of intellect in this country. That Nugent as a polemicist has any audience at all — and he has a big one — does not bode well for any belief in the country’s ability to deal rationally with present and future challenges.

Media Matters runs a regular ticker on Nugent, too, and a post today notes an eye-popping run-on sentence from the man’s latest column in the WaTimes.

While Nugent’s weekly rubbish is notorious for run-ons capable of reducing copy editors to tears, even by the lax standards at that real estate, this one was simply spectacularly bad:

In the otherwise universally recognized perfection of the American experiment in self-government, where evil monsters like Che Guevara and Mao Zedong are routinely worshipped by the very imbeciles that these historical murderers would have slaughtered unhesitatingly, to a community-organizer-in-chief whose terminal rookie agenda is maniacally to spend our way out of debt and drop charges against clear and present criminal New Black Panther thugs threatening voters in Philadelphia, to black-robed idiots claiming Americans have no right to self-defense, where pimps, whores and welfare brats party hearty with the mindless fantasy that Fedzilla will wipe their butts eternally, ad nauseam – I am compelled to increase my crowbar swinging to new heights every day.

If one were to liken the English language to a great hunting ground for Nugent, you could say that instead of being of mighty skill, Ted was eaten by a bear and shit out in the forest a long time ago.

Ted, as whacko, was also on Alex Jones last week, that show being one of the top two radio venues in the country for awe-inspiringly stupid crank conspiracy theory. (The other being Coast to Coast with George Nori.)

Ted now calls Texas home. However, Nugent’s brand is frequently too extreme for some kinder parts of it. One Houston newspaper writer noted an upcoming appearance in the suburb of Pasadena:

My problem is definitely in Nugent’s delivery, specifically the toxic way in which he forces his audiences to listen to his rants in-between songs.

Delivering a message in the course of verse or lyric is an honest approach to getting listeners to think and react.

Holding ticket holders anxious to hears ’70s guitar anthems “Stranglehold” or “Cat Scratch Fever” captive while Nugent howls, “Obama, he’s a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun” is cheating the whole creative element a bit …

What Nugent has never understood is that people don’t go to his shows to hear his stump speeches. If we wanted to hear a crazy old man yell political “fire” in a crowded room we could hang out at Walmart or the Greyhound bus terminal downtown for a lot less money.

(The fact that Nugent is out in Pasadena, and not at the more prestigious Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, make it clear that there are others who have tired of his rap as well.)

Days later, another Houston paper covered Nugent’s performance.

The piece was supremely entertaining, capturing Nugent’s current state as a ranting kook perfectly, along with his small rock audience of bottom-out-of-sighters.

Some excerpts:

We aren’t sure if you can have a painting of yourself running over the President and most of his cabinet as your stage backdrop, but manners didn’t stop Gwar from eating a Dick Cheney effigy on stage for the better of four years in the Bush reign.


“Free machine guns for the kids,” Nugent screamed while wielding what we rightfully assume were real machine guns. This was the Nugent that we had been hearing harried and scared reports about for years now. It’s like when you finally get to see Alice Cooper in the guillotine or Slayer’s blood shower during “Reign In Blood.”

What followed was the mother of all tirades against the mayor of Chicago, President Barack Obama, most Northerners, gun-haters and every “Chairman Mao motherfucker in the White House.” We don’t remember hearing this sort of language directed towards Dubya during his tenure in office, at least with not this much volume and hate.

Shit is getting real. He’s preaching. Fuck this and fuck that. He’s railing. It’s awe-inspiring.

I don’t think he likes the President much. I’m swimming in hate.


At this point the little liberal part of Aftermath’s brain wanted to bolt, but instead we walked to the merch booth and bought a shirt for $35. It’s strange how the more heated and aggressive the show, got the more proud we were to have bought the shirt. Free speech isn’t always clean and peaceful, but Nugent believes this stuff, even if there seems to be a pinch of bandwagoneering going on. He didn’t touch on immigrants last night, which would have just confused his message.

He just covered Soul Man ten minutes after the hate-parade. I love cognitive dissonance like whoa.

It’s interesting how the new right wing uses Martin Luther King Jr. as an icon for its perceived struggle, and Nugent interspersed a few photos of the slain civil-rights leader with footage of himself teaching kids about hunting animals. “I celebrate killing shit!” he exclaimed right after the song and video were over.

The writer wryly described the crowd: “Folks in wifebeaters, older gals sporting sweaty cleavage, younger guys in leather vests and a healthy dose of bikers.”

And while they may like to see him these days, it is a group that does not buy Ted CDs anymore.


  1. bonze blayk said,

    July 12, 2010 at 11:25 am

    “In the otherwise universally recognized perfection of the American experiment in self-government…”

    Um, ur, sounds like what we need to counter the evils thenceforth trotted out resulting from self-government is… Government by Nuge?

    Oh, count me in! I don’t want to die a slow, prolonged death–better by far that we burst like a star!

    Nuge’s first act as President-for-Life: taking an M-60 to the Supreme Court. That’ll show them Mao-worshiping bastids! Then we can install some REAL MEN THERE!

    Anyway, Dick, I count not these postings as a favor: I think Ted’s prose has gotten something scambled in my eyeballs…

  2. Mikey said,

    July 13, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Re: Run-on sentences – my prof, one eyebrow crawling up his forehead, would have told me that my period was late.

  3. George Smith said,

    July 13, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Oh, count me in! I don’t want to die a slow, prolonged death–better by far that we burst like a star!

    But Ted’s not bursting like a star. He’s just kind of puffing up like an agitated hog nose snake. Oh, I’ve just disparaged the poor hog nose, which doesn’t deserve comparison to the Nuge.

  4. pdf said,

    July 14, 2010 at 4:20 am

    >>Um, ur, sounds like what we need to counter the evils thenceforth trotted out resulting from self-government is… Government by Nuge?

    I saw Nugent live pre-9/11 (1999 or 2000). He was opening for Kiss but I saw him at an off-night headlining gig at NYC’s Irving Plaza, a club that holds about 1000. He packed it out, and I had a blast. The rants were minimal by the standards of today, and it was a solid oldies set ’cause even “Craveman” wasn’t out yet.

    I still have the T-shirt I bought that night. It’s got all-over NASCAR-style printing on the front – Ted playing guitar against a giant, Patton-sized American flag. And on the back, in big red letters, it reads “ONE NATION UNDER TED.”