Ted Nugent offered a qualified apology on Friday for calling President Obama “a subhuman mongrel.”
“I do apologize–not necessarily to the President–but on behalf of much better men than myself,” he told conservative radio host Ben Ferguson.
The rhetoric of the musician, reality show star and sought-after conservative activist has become an issue since he appeared at a campaign event with the likely Republican nominee for governor of Texas, Greg Abbott. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) identified “subhuman mongrel” as requiring an apology. The senator is eager to reframe his party with minority voters.
But Nugent, who has called himself “Rosa Parks with a Gibson,” appeared to be mostly interested in shielding his favorite Republicans from criticism.
“I apologize for using the term,” he added. “I will try to elevate my vernacular to the level of those great men that I’m learning from in the world of politics.”
When asked to clarify if he was apologizing to the president, Nugent said he was — but there’s so much more for him to apologize for.
His inflammatory political comments often verge into misogyny and racial stereotypes. He’s recorded a song about sex with an underaged female, an activity Courtney Love says he pursued with her when she was 12, and he’s fathered eight children with four women. He also became the legal guardian of a seventeen-year old girl he was dating at age 30.
But Republicans — including the last GOP nominee for president, Mitt Romney — seek out Nugent because of the dearth of celebrity supporters on the right and the way his rage mirrors and activates the GOP base.
When it comes to fighting the “war on women,” it seems that some right-wing Republicans just can’t stop themselves. And there’s a reason for that: Their base consists largely of men with a patriarchal worldview—and the women who love them. Most of the other women (especially single women), and many of the men who don’t hate women, vote for the other party.
In Abbott’s case, he’s going to need strong turnout from his base, since the brutal battle in the state legislature last summer did not play well across the board, and it energized the pro-choice grassroots, who flooded the state capitol building and made Wendy Davis a national star.
While the right’s tolerance for Nugent’s rhetoric definitely prevents the party from reaching outside the base, Republicans again and again find that they agree with the policies of the extremists they end up having to denounce.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has the same stand on reproductive rights as disgraced Senate candidate Todd Akin. Rand Paul may not like what Nugent said and embrace slight reforms on voting rights and drug laws, but he certainly agrees with Nugent on reproductive rights, and neither man likely sees any problem with voting laws designed to keep minorities from the polls.