Ted Nugent with Texas Gov. Rick Perry in June 2005 in Crawford, Texas, where Nugent has lived since 2003
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

How can you not feel just a little bit sorry for Ted Nugent?

The onetime “Motor City Madman” had an impressive 50-plus-year performing career that brought him fame and fortune, but it’s been a long time since he reached his creative peak with the layered, nuanced mega-hit “Cat Scratch Fever” in 1977—and perhaps it’s been a while since he made anyone “purr with the stroke of” his hand.

Sure, he’s still rich and famous, but he’s been waging a one-man rhetorical war against President Barack Obama for years now, and he’s gotten nowhere. In his own words, he’s “obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame, enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America.”

And that is, indeed, a breathtaking failure when you consider that Nugent is only up against, as he says, a “subhuman mongrel.” A biracial guy, like Obama—and me. Perhaps he’d have had more success in his crusade against community organizers, Chicagoans and presidents if his political bête noire were someone who was more monochromatic.

The long-haired, camouflage-clad ex-rocker’s inchoate critique might make more sense if he were ripping Obama—a buttoned-down politician and 1950s-style father—for being a little too uptight.

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Instead, we’re left wondering why Nugent—an NRA board member—expresses so much opposition to this president, even though the only federal gun law that’s been signed during Obama’s five years was a 2009 law that expanded the right to carry firearms in national parks.

Whatever the deal is, as a “mongrel” myself, it’s tough not to feel for the guy. Here’s why:

It’s a mongrel’s world now. Maybe Nugent is just having a hard time handling the fact that it’s sort of a mongrel’s world out there now, and he’s just another washed-up guitar hero living in it. Between Obama, The Rock, Drake, Colin Kaepernick and even a rejuvenated Tiger Woods—not to mention Slash, a guy who long ago outpaced Nugent as a guitar legend (and whose name is literally a synonym for mongrel)—maybe the “Nuge” isn’t getting enough love.

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Duck Dynasty is biting his flow. Nugent used to be the most visible, quotable and hirsute outdoor-sports enthusiast. Now that title belongs to Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson. So maybe calling Obama a “subhuman mongrel” was the best way he could think of to top Robertson’s “singing and happy,” “prewelfare”-blacks riff.

He’s hurting his own cause. It was just earlier this week that Nugent wrote a provocative op-ed for World Net Daily, asking, “What Would Dr. King Say About Black Culture?” The answer, we already pointed out on The Root, is that it’s always dicey speculating about what Martin Luther King Jr. would think of our world today. At a minimum, though, it’s safe to say he wouldn’t be in favor of describing humans as “subhumans.”

No one believes him anymore. And finally, Nugent has lost some of his street cred. In 2012 he told an interviewer that if Obama was re-elected, “I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” But that never came to pass.

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I’m glad that hasn’t happened to him—even we mongrels have sympathy for our fellow man—but in hindsight, it’s hard not to conclude that the bulk of Nugent’s tough talk is really just that: talk.

It’s been, in other words, a rough ride for Nugent.

His heyday—a world of shirtless guitar solos, gas shortages and stagflation—has given way to a Brooks Brothers-suited president who only musters a new record stock market high about every other day. His world has been, in a word, rocked.

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Some folks might have a difficult time forgiving the guy for playing the “subhuman mongrel” card.

But Ted, I’m one mongrel who’s gonna try my best to forgive you.

David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter