Monday, December 26, 2011

The Dickensian Mr. Nugent

A few days ago a friend e-mailed me the following article entitled “Nugent: Poor parental choices make poor children” and asked me for my thoughts. When are people going to learn not to do that…

First, allow me to express my keen disappointment in the Motor City Madman’s rather bland regurgitation of right-wing think tank talking points. This is work more akin to the bleating duckspeak of a second tier Fox news commentator than something from the man who inflicted “Wango Tango” and “Cat Scratch Fever” on the American public thirty odd years ago. You would think there would be more pyrotechnics.

However, there are some pleasures to be found in Mr. Nugent’s unlettered drivel, even if they were unintended.

Let’s take a moment and savor the delicious irony of Ted “Wango Tango” Nugent extolling the probity of middle class sexual mores to the feckless poor. To my mind, this is a bit like enduring an avuncular lecture about the evils of chemical dependency from Keith Richards.

Terrible Ted opens his salvo on the less fortunate with the admonition:

“The fault is with the parents or, often, the lack thereof.”

Nugent is so good as to graciously spare the children from being complicit in their parents’ inconsiderate actions which so aggrieve good conservatives such as he. This is a common complaint. Even at the most cursory glance, history is chocked full of examples of society’s betters bemoaning the fecundity of their lesser members (see Dickens). Setting aside the lack of originality, it’s Nugent’s shameless hypocrisy that comes to the fore.

Nugent has been married twice and is the father of eight children. His first wife Sandy divorced him, accusing him of “bizarre sexual practices”. Three of the children were from his first marriage and two were from the second. Wait a minute; that is only five, his other three were born out of wedlock! And if that wasn’t enough, he further warns “mindless baby-making machines”:

“… if you can’t afford to have kids, quit having them and expecting the taxpayers to pay for them. Men and women with no visible means of support other than the taxpayer dime shouldn’t be having children. That may sound ugly and controlling, but it’s much uglier to expect the taxpayer to pay for mindless baby-making machines…”

Of course, Ted takes his responsibilities very seriously, so much so that in 2004 he was sued for unpaid child support payments for a bastard he fathered in 1995.

It must be said that Nugent contributed more than his fair share to the corrosion of our cultural currency. His 1980 classic “Wango Tango”enlightens young minds with the following lyrics:

“Kinda like, goes kinda like this
You take her right ankle out
You take her left ankle out
You get her belly propped down
You get her butt propped up
Yeah lookin' good now baby
I think you're in the right position now baby…”


Oh there’s more,

“I got salivate late, salivate late, salivate late
I got the droolin', droolin', get all wet, salivate, salivate
Got salivate, salivate, salivate, salivate, heh heh heh
Yeah you look so good baby, I like it, I like it, I like it
You know what I been talkin' about honey…”


Ted, no vicarious tunesmith, often put these words of wisdom into action. He gained a bit of notoriety in October 2000 when Spin magazine declared what follows as #63 on their list of the "100 Sleaziest Moments in Rock". Channeling his inner Jerry Lee Lewis, the thirty-year old Nugent initiated a “relationship” with seventeen-year-old Hawaii native Pele Massa. (There seems to be some dispute as to Ms. Massa’s true age with allegations she might have been as young as thirteen). Due to the age difference they could not marry so Nugent joined Massa's parents in signing documents to make himself her legal guardian. The above lyrics probably give some insight into the type of guardianship “Uncle Ted” was providing. Nothing creepy here.

It is illustrative that Nugent chooses to quote William J. Bennett another leading light of the “do as I say, not as I do” school of conservative thought. Bennett, when not dropping millions on the tables of Las Vegas, spends his time cranking out unreadable tomes with a singular theme – blame the victim. Perhaps Bill “Know when to fold ‘em” Bennett wants the poor to parlay their lottery tickets and repair “The Broken Hearth”.

Of course, we have to “punish” the poor for their own good. They don’t work. That broccoli on your table just finds its way there. The toilets at the McDonalds just clean themselves. Damn, if those poor people would just work 100 hours a week between three or four jobs, they could make as much as $725.00 a week! “[We] must make hard choices that force people into making smart, responsible decisions.” You’re too late, Ted, poor people make hard choices every single day.

I suppose it is now de rigueur in conservative circles to blame teacher unions for AIDS, the Kardashians and the fall of Western Civilization. This argument is so tiresome and spurious, I can only respond as Christopher Hitchens would have responded; 'That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence'.

The most risible and laughable of his assertions is “…we need a government that respects the free market and private sector instead of spitting on them. The more our government embraces the private sector, the more opportunity there is available…” It could well be argued that our government does a bit more than “embrace” the private sector. In fact, given its behavior toward Wall Street and the trillion dollar bailouts one could say they fellate the private sector. Now that we have protected the “job creators’” wealth from taxation, the question remains – where are the jobs?

If Mr. Nugent really wants us face the “ugly and uncomfortable” truths about poverty in America today, he might start by leaving his “canned hunt” in the wilds of Michigan and ask a few a few of his former fans – many of whom are becoming statistics in the longest recession since the 1930’s - in decaying rust belt cities that long supported his decadent rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. If this really all the right has to offer, along with the cavalcade of clowns they call their candidates; Mr. Obama, of whom I am no fan, should have nothing to worry about this November.

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