None of us were happy when we learned that Ted Nugent would be attending President Obama’s State of the Union address as the guest of one of my state’s esteemed representatives, Steve Stockman (R-Tex). Surely this was unprecedented, right? A man who was investigated by the Secret Service for barely veiled threats against the life of the President of the United States life was allowed to be sitting in the same room with him?
Well, it seems that Karma stepped in to deal the aging former rocker and reality TV star a life lesson. Or, more precisely, Karma stepped in via the form of a mischievous seating planner.
In a cozy and crowded seating arrangement, Nugent was seated next to longtime gay rights activist and leader of the Pink Martini Orchestra, Thomas Lauderdale, who supports gun control and loves classical music. Though body language suggested that Uncle Ted was très uncomfortable with the possibility of even bumping against the talented singer, the unlikely duo actually spent the evening getting to know each other with intelligent conversation and discovery of shared interests and life experiences.
While some would instantly jump to the conclusion that Nugent, who is usually vocal to the point of insanity, would be eager to express his discomfort in post-address interviews with the press, au contraire. He slammed the President, and actually had some pretty strong words for the GOP, but he didn’t even mention the seating arrangement or his new acquaintance, probably because he and Lauderdale actually “clicked” and found quite a lot of common ground. On The Pink Martinis Facebook page, Lauderdale said:
I was totally not expecting to be seated next to Ted Nugent at the State of the Union …. but it was incredible. We talked about hunting … in Texas (where he has lived for the past 10 years) and Michigan (where he grew up). Growing up he was inspired by Dick Dale … and later by the British Invasion bands of the mid-60s … The Yardbirds … The Rolling Stones. He only tours in the summer. I asked him if he did USO tours. He has … BUT is probably the only celebrity who carried his own machine gun. (Shockingly, I don’t have a machine gun of my own.) He thought this year’s Grammys were too “bubblegum” and childish. And, of all of his compositions, “Fred Bear” means the most to him … people ask for it at their funerals, their barmitzvahs (sic) their graduations … “It doesn’t get more ‘wow’ than that,” he said. At the end of the night, he shook my hand, and wished me luck. I thought he was a real gentleman.
To my left was a woman named Dina McKenna, who was married to a soldier who served in Iraq … Came home, and died from the toxins released in the berms. She has become a political activist and, I think, is headed on a path in which she will run someday for office! Totally inspiring!
Lauderdale, who graduated cum laude from Harvard with degrees in history and literature, elaborated in an interview with KGW.
“For me, it was really amazing moment to be able to talk to somebody who has a completely different set of opinions than me,” Lauderdale told KGW. “I just find that fascinating and interesting and also an opportunity to hear somebody out…to hear somebody else’s experiences that are entirely different than mine.”
“I just wanted to communicate that for all of those people who dismiss Ted Nugent outright, that things are never so cut-and-dry … or black-and-white.”
It was a night of epiphanies for Nugent. He found a gay friend, and was also seen being quite friendly with Sheila Jackson Lee, an African-American and sane representative from Texas. Nugent behaved as if it were his first time to ever speak with a black person. He said of Lee, with whom he clearly had never spoken before:
“I don’t consider myself a rock star, except Sheila Jackson Lee loves my guitar playing. she thinks that I’m a Motown funk brother, and she’s right.” (Politico)
He proceeded to confirm everything we already believe about GOP politicians and Republicans in general.
“[...] every cop, every military hero has stopped me and said ‘thank you.’ They have told me…some of the agents who will remain unidentified at this point…said ‘Given ‘em hell, Ted. When you speak, you speak for me, you’re saying what I’m not allowed to say. Thank you, don’t back down.'” (Politico)
He claims that in “every step” of his entry to Washington, D.C., he was welcomed in the same manner by TSA employees at the airport, parking valets, and even employees who were working at the SOTU address (!!!).
“I’m going to leave Washington more confident, more encouraged than when I arrived here, and that scares this lady [Lee].” (Politico)
He then turned to Lee and gushed about how diverse his band is and declared dramatically “I’m bringing Motown to Texas.” He explained, “I revere my heroes of Motown funk.” He then, unbelievably, made a move that was suggestive of “I love black people sooooo much” when he said that the name of his new tour is “Ted Nuget 2013 Black Power.” Jackson graciously, and in obvious discomfort, allowed him to hug her and mumbled that “he’s got me.” Right. Representative Lee is a class act. Few people could have endured that and kept a smile on their faces. (Politico)
The singer and NRA board member, recently disgraced and booted out by The Discovery Channel, is doing everything he can to stay relevant, apparently. If that means expanding his schmooze to people his core audience detests.
You can hear Lauderdale’s comments about his evening with Ted Nugent in the video below:
I am an unapologetic member of the Christian Left, and have spent a lot of time working with “the least of these” and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. I’m passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics I discuss, subscribe to my public updates on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me via LinkedIn. I also have a grossly neglected blog. Find me somewhere and let’s discuss stuff.