Ted Nugent Helped Me See the Need For Civil Political Dialogue
You might not think that a guy who writes songs called "Yank Me, Crank Me" and "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" would lead you to soul-searching, but when Ted Nugent called me a prick, that's exactly what happened.
Now, the Nuge wasn't ripping on people like me or on a group of people I belong to, mind you. He was calling me, Brian Bardwell, a prick. He went on to lobby for me to be spanked.
You see, New Times music editor Martin Cizmar had landed an interview with the Nuge, who happens to have a spread just down Prairie Chapel Road from George W. Bush's ranch. So Martin figured that he might as well break the ice with the story of the time I (may or may not have, allegedly) pissed on the president's lawn.
Again, I'm not saying that I actually did that.
But if I had, it was a hilarious stunt, involving my jumping out of a moving U-Haul truck, being chased by the neighbor's dog, risking an arrest at the hands of the U.S. Secret Service, and Martin's driving the truck through a neighbor's lawn.
All in all, it makes for a great story. Had I done it.
Sweaty Teddy had a different take: "That was almost as stupid as Ozzy pissing on the Alamo. What, do you hang out with a bunch of idiots? See, Ozzy didn't do it intentionally. He's so delirious he doesn't know when he's going to piss or where he's going to piss. I'm glad he knows how to piss. But your friend should be spanked for being such a prick. That kind of politics I just find that amazing. As rotten and as un-American as Obama is, I would have no desire to piss on anything of his. That sounds so like dope-inspired hippie activity."
I'm pretty sure that's the first time anyone has sincerely lumped me in with the hippies. It's also the first time I've been compared to Ozzy Osbourne. (For the record, he also threatened to "knee-cap" Cizmar.) But the stinger was when my politics were called into question.
Now, it's easy enough to dismiss anything Nugent says about politics. He tells Obama to suck on his machine gun and calls him "a piece of shit." He called Hillary Clinton a "worthless bitch." He's a conservationist who sells canned hunts. A draft dodger turned political hawk. It doesn't take much time looking at his weekly columns in the Waco paper to realize that this man, while very intelligent, suffers from an unfortunate combination of paranoia, delusions of grandeur, and batshit craziness. Either that or he's just constantly putting up a front to build his brand. I suspect it's the latter.
In fairness, there's also plenty to like about Uncle Ted. Gun rights do need to be protected, and he's got that covered. He's an outspoken conservationist. And even if his music isn't all that meaningful, rock 'n' roll doesn't need to be. I've seen him live — with Deep Purple and Lynyrd Skynyrd — and he's awesome. "Free For All"? Totally badass.
So let's bring it back to the point, which is "that kind of politics." Ted Nugent's politics are usually as ridiculous as they are reprehensible, so I laughed it off when I first heard he was calling me names. But when I got to read everything in context, it became clear that he was right.
"That kind of politics" is exactly what turns off people and what pushed me to really start paying attention to what was going on in our country.
As much as Ronald Reagan brought people into the Republican Party, George W. Bush drove people out — myself included. In 2000, I was a die-hard, anti-abortion-voting Republican, excited out of my mind to cast my first vote for Bush and Cheney. By 2004, my loyalties had changed, but Bush's petty brand of politics had already consumed me. When courts struck down anti-abortion laws that I actually supported back then, I found myself happy anyway, just because I knew the rulings would piss off the president.
It took an embarrassingly long time to realize this was not a healthy or productive way to conduct the nation's business. When I heard Barack Obama's Call to Renewal keynote in 2006, it made me realize what an asshole I was being, and how much better off the country would be if the people leading our conversations could treat issues seriously. That I want politicians to be fair-minded, honest, and gracious is extending an assumption of good faith to the people who disagree with them.
So even if he's being hypocritical, the Motor City Madman correctly observes that I've fallen short in my efforts to heed the call for a more civil political dialogue. For that I feel genuine remorse.
I won't say this often, but thanks for calling me out, Ted Nugent. You were right.
If I pissed on the president's lawn, I'm sorry.
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