Ted Nugent slams State of the Union. Why did he rip GOP, too?

Shock-rocker and gun rights activist Ted Nugent was expected to have words for President Obama's State of the Union message. The surprise was his criticism of Republicans, whom he said lack resolve to win against a 'ruthless' foe.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Musician Ted Nugent (center) listens to President Obama's State of the Union speech from the House visitors' gallery on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

Did you see shocker rocker/gun advocate Ted Nugent attending President Obama’s State of the Union address? At first reporters had a hard time finding him, but eventually the cameras discovered the Motor City Madman high in the House gallery, sitting quietly in the crowd, with his hat off, wearing non-camouflage clothing. He looked out of place, like a cowboy at a piano recital. He also looked bored.

“My favorite part was when I couldn’t hear clearly,” said Mr. Nugent to reporters after the address. “Then, I didn’t get angry.”

But Ted Nugent’s Excellent Washington Adventure was not an exercise in restraint. If nothing else, the Nuge fulfilled expectations from both left and right that he’d rhetorically bludgeon Mr. Obama’s gun proposals.

“My reaction? I’m not allowed to do that because I’m supposed to keep my pants on,” he told CBS News after the speech. “My reaction for the masses? It pains me to honestly give you my reaction. I just don’t believe a word the man says. I’ve heard this predictable, flowery, feel-good speech of denial before.”

Nugent then proceeded to give a fairly typical right-of-the-spectrum view of the gun violence problem. Dangerous criminals need to be kept locked up, he said, and mentally-ill people who exhibit threatening behavior should be “kept off the streets," too.

Nugent is a board member of the National Rifle Association, and he sounded as if he were echoing NRA talking points, although with much more volume and emphasis than even NRA head Wayne LaPierre. In that sense, he disappointed hard-core followers and liberals alike, both of whom may have been expecting a bit more crazy. There was no Nugent suggestion for a MediGun program dispensing AR-15s to retirees, for instance, or a proposal to add a camouflage fringe to the American flag.

As Slate’s perceptive Dave Weigel noted Tuesday, “If Nugent joined the Republican caucus, he wouldn’t even be its most conservative member."

But here’s what we found particularly interesting: Nugent was pretty hard on the Republican Party. In some ways his rhetoric about the GOP was more brutal than his comments on the SOTU.

In an interview with the conservative Breitbart.com website, Nugent said the Republican establishment does not fight back against Obama “because somehow they have lost their [deleted]."

We’re a family blog – if you want to see what body part he was talking about, look at the source. It was, um, original.

Nugent told Breitbart that the GOP is more concerned with looking pretty than winning. They should not back off, not stop to allow the other side to talk, not acquiesce. They should escalate, he said.

“It’s almost like Mr. Rogers with Lawrence Welk music,” said Nugent, referring (we think) to the GOP. “That can’t win anything. The other side is ruthless. They’re just ruthless.... Maybe that’s why I’m allergic to ties. I see too many Republicans worried about grooming instead of winning.”


Nugent, who traveled to D.C. at the invitation of Rep. Steve Stockman (R) of Texas, said he’d had a good time in what he referred as the “belly of the beast” and had been thanked by many police officers and other passers-by for his no-holds-barred, pro-hunting attitude.

“I’m a beautiful human being,” he told the Detroit News. “Anybody that doesn’t know that is [crazy].”

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