Leader Blues

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

WEDNESDAY EDITORIAL >> Huckabee: What a card!

For his sake and for the good of this blessedly humble state, someone needs to tell Gov. Huckabee that he serves us best by not imitating either Don Imus or Ann Coulter when he is in the cultivated precincts of New York, or even North Carolina.

The Southern Baptist preacher becomes oh-so-worldly when he’s gasbagging on radio in New York, Iowa or the southern seaboard. Early in his political career he loved to go on the Imus show and swap half-smutty stories. He learned after a while that the shrinking universe sent his words back home. So when he trashed Arkansas as “a banana republic” in New York, Arkansans were stung and Huckabee had to blow it off as a harmless joke. It was one thing for H. L. Mencken and Mark Twain to sneer about Arkansas’ backwardness and for Opie Read and Bob Burns to joke about it but quite another for our own ambassador to ridicule the state.

The governor has nice comedic timing, as he demonstrated on the Colbert Report a few weeks ago, but taste and good sense escape him sometimes when he’s trying very hard to impress people with his wit and savoir-faire. It is as if he is saying to voters in other regions: “Sure, I’m from Arkansas, but, see, I’m not the uptight hick that you would expect.”

When a reporter asked him last week how he expected to raise the large sums of money needed for a presidential campaign, Huckabee grinned and replied, as if he had been waiting so long for the question: “I’ve got a map of 7-Elevens, a bunch of blue steel revolvers and some ski masks. We’re going to go all over the country and raise money in a very unique way.”
And explaining how his plane troubles brought out emergency crews to the landing strip, he joked that he bet they were disappointed the plane did not crash.

Ann Coulter, the pornographic commentator, might joke about poisoning a Supreme Court justice and widows enjoying the slaughter of their husbands at the World Trade Center and get by with it. No, wait, she didn’t, did she?

Huckabee’s jokes were picked up by a national newsmagazine and circulated through the blogs. His presidential stock was not going up.

The governor needs a taste monitor to travel with him when he heads for distant cities. Alice Stewart does not fill the bill. Where is Rex Nelson when we need him?