I’ve started to read Mike Huckabee’s latest tome, God, Guns, Grits and Gravy. I sort of like Mike Huckabee. He’s appeared several times on the Daily Show. He plays bass guitar. He has an amiable presence. Most significantly, he’s not an asswipe like some of his conservative counterparts. That means:
- He’s not a hate-monger like Ann Coulter;
- He’s not a bully like Bill O’Reilly;
- He’s not a complete phony like Glenn Beck;
- And he’s not an out-and-out asshole like Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh.
I recognize that the bar has been set pretty low. But you gotta start somewhere.
And for me, I always find it useful to read what the other side is saying. If I can stomach it, that is. And I can stomach Mike Huckabee. Nevertheless, however amiable he may be, Mike Huckabee is also wrong about a lot of things, and in what will be a series of posts, I aim to point out how.
Huckabee’s central thesis is that there is an opposition between “Bubble-ville” – which he defines as New York, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. – and “Bubba-ville,” which he defines as the rest of rural America, but especially the South.
So Huckabee begins his book by complaining about how he can’t find grits and biscuits for breakfast in restaurants in New York, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. Which is, of course, like complaining that you can’t find a good Wiener schnitzel in restaurants in Paris.
C’mon Huckabee, cuisine is regional. That doesn’t prove anything. I’m pretty sure you can’t find good lox and bagels in restaurants in Alabama.
So this is the first of many false comparisons that Huckabee sets up.
The second and much more significant false comparison that we find right at the outset is the notion that New York, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. represent liberal (or progressive) America. First of all, let’s be clear what Huckabee means by these three cities:
- By New York, he really means the world of high finance in New York, which is a small part of the city.
- By Los Angeles, he really means Hollywood, and especially the entertainment industry in Hollywood.
- By Washington D.C. he really means the government-lobbying complex which is centered there, and not, for example, the hundreds of thousands of mostly African-American residents who are not directly involved in government.
Huckabee also has it in for Harvard University and other such institutions of higher learning, who he thinks disregard the wisdom of the common man. In the conservative lexicon, these places are all code words for elitism, which the common man is taught to detest. Because, you know, they think they’re better than us.
The central problem with this false dichotomy is the one that you’ve surely already noticed: these small portions of NYC, LA and DC do not represent most liberals or progressives.
We live in places like Vermont, and Oregon, and Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota; many of us live in cities, but are poor or barely middle class; many of us live in the suburbs, and some of us even live in the country; most of us have nothing to do with high finance, the entertainment industry or the federal government.
Huckabee thinks that his people know us, but that we don’t know them. It may be true that we don’t know them, but they also don’t know us. He thinks that they know us because “we” are represented through entertainment, especially television, the movies, and popular music.
And it’s true that Hollywood in particular tends to have a liberal bias – which is reflected in some of its programming choices – but what is not true is that Hollywood represents the average mainstream middle-class liberal or progressive any more accurately than it represents people from the South.
Consequently, Huckabee’s entire book is founded on a false premise, one that he can’t actually defend.
Stay tuned for other false dichotomies.