Softly softly, charming Huckabee***Don't underestimate the rocker of the religious right
Illustration by KAL
SARAH PALIN may be the Republican Party's rock star, but Mike Huckabee can actually play the bass guitar. While campaigning for the presidency last year, he would often whip it out and start jamming. Lexington heard him a few times. He was at least as good as that other former governor of Arkansas, the one who plays the saxophone. And his latest book has more about rock music in it than the title, "A Simple Christmas", might suggest.
As an eight-year-old boy in 1964, he watched the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show and immediately wanted to be one of them. He put "electric guitar" on his Christmas list, but his parents picked something cheaper. After two years, he drew up a list with only the guitar on it. Alarmed by the price, his parents urged him to reconsider. No, he said, it's a guitar or nothing. They gave in. "I didn't know until years later just how much money $99 was to my parents," recalls Mr Huckabee. It took them a year to pay for it. The lesson? Christmas is about sacrifice. Several Christmases later, when he was a penniless father-to-be, he sold his precious guitars (he had two by then) to buy a washing machine.
Political memoirs aim to make money and charm voters. Mrs Palin's recent volume is generating more cash than Mr Huckabee's, but also more controversy: it is packed with score-settling. Mr Huckabee's memoir, by contrast, is disguised as a book of heart-warming Christmas stories. Cynics will call it corny, but it offends no one. In this, it resembles Mr Huckabee's weekly television show on Fox News. Like a conservative Oprah, he interviews nice people about the challenges they have overcome or the good works they are doing. This week's show featured a football coach who cared for his Alzheimer's-stricken wife, musicians who wrote a song for a vegetable-themed children's movie and an appeal to put old toys in shoeboxes and send them to poor children. Asked why his show is not more strident, Mr Huckabee replies that people want to relax at the weekend.
The race for the Republican nomination in 2012 is wide open. Mrs Palin hogs the headlines, but half the country hates her, so she cannot plausibly win a general election. Mr Huckabee's views on faith, family, abortion, gays and guns are almost indistinguishable from hers, yet hardly anyone hates him. He seems so reasonable: soft-spoken and gently humorous. "Lord give me patience," he says, "right now!" He describes something improbable as being "as likely as someone going up to Chuck Norris and taking away his chest hair". He does not sound intolerant. Of the tut-tutting about a certain golfer, he says: "Don't worry about what's happening behind the doors of Tiger's house. Focus on what's happening behind the doors at your house."...full article