Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Esquire: Huckabee charming and likes Cher concerts!

Writing for Esquire, A.J. Jacobs has a thoroughly engaging profile of Mike Huckabee. Read it to get the Full Huck.

First, on that Cher thing:

As we head toward the Lincoln Tunnel, I ask him if he really enjoyed the Cher concert.

"It was an incredible show. One of the best I've ever seen."

"You could have been the only straight male there."

Huckabee laughs. "See? See how tolerant I am?"

Second, on that Murdochian Empire he's building:

This is Mike Huckabee, postelection. You think he was gonna go home to Arkansas and toss lawn darts? The man is busier than he was during the Iowa caucuses.

He's sleeping four hours a night, jogging five miles a day, flogging his new book on a fifty-six-city tour. He's interviewing the occasional Baldwin, doing daily commentary for ABC Radio, signing T-shirts that read HUCK YEAH! Just four years till 2012.

Third, his Rx for the Republican party, and another Romney feud reference:

The short answer: Return to conservative moral values, including an emphasis on pro-life issues and a ban on gay marriage, and stop spending money like Democrats. Oh, and gag Mitt Romney. Huckabee caused a mini firestorm by taking a couple of uncharacteristically harsh swipes at Romney, whom he considered phony and high-handed.

Fourth, his unparalleled charm:

In the week before the interview, I'd been told the same thing by a dozen people: He'll charm you. And half an hour in, I've already been sucked in. He's the most likable politician I've ever met. Here he is, one of the most conservative voices in a couple of decades. He's a four-star general in the battle against gay marriage. He's fervently pro-life and is dubious about Darwinism. He disciplined his kids with corporal punishment and he loves his guns. And yet, when you're with him, he's so damn folksy and kind and self-deprecating that the liberal media (i.e., me) just want to hug him.

A couple of weeks before our interview, he gave a speech at Brown University and got a standing ovation. Brown! That Maoist collective in Rhode Island..... If Sarah Palin is a pit bull, Huckabee is a Labrador retriever.

Fifth, gay-talk!

Huckabee says he doesn't know if homosexuality is inborn, but he believes you can control the behavior. He compares homosexuality to obesity or alcoholism:

"Some people have a predisposition to alcoholism. Does that mean they're not responsible for getting drunk? No."

I give him the liberal line: Being gay is so integral to a person's identity that it's not a choice, that it's like being African-American.

"I'm especially offended by that," he answers immediately. "Because blackness is an inescapable quality. Black is not a behavior. There's no behavior to black. What you can say is that whatever disposition, it's a choice. A lot of people are celibate. When people enter the priesthood, they make a choice to subjugate certain behaviors and/or feelings. It's not that they don't have them; it's that they choose not to act on them."

Sixth, on running in 2012:

I ask him later whether he's going to run for president again. Huckabee says he honestly doesn't know. "You never want to get into a race that you don't believe in your heart that you can win."

Seventh, on his incipient rivalry with Sarah Palin:

There are a lot of X factors. Including his fellow evangelical Christian Sarah Palin. There's a natural tension between the two, especially since Palin took the vice-presidential-nominee slot many predicted would go to him.

Huckabee, diplomatic and biblical, says the Alaskan governor "energized" the party. I ask him if she was treated fairly by the media. "There were a lot of unfair things. Sexist things that would never have been asked of a male candidate."

He pauses. "Now I must say I did not think that either the Charlie Gibson interview or the Katie Couric interviews were unfair. In fact, if anything, Katie Couric was extraordinarily gentle, even helpful. [Palin] just . . . I don't know what happened. I can't explain it. It was not a good interview. I'm being charitable."

(All emphasis added.)