Thursday, December 27, 2007

A New York TImes Reporter Gets Huckabee and His Success

One more Huckabee post for the night. Of course the night is about to end in a hour :).

I was struck by this NYT Blog piece called Mitt and Mike: A Tale of Two States.

I am often amazed that conservative pundits and left pundits don't get Huckabee. They don't get his appeal. I think much of that comes from the lack of understanding of Arkansas itself. That is quite something in itself. One would think after 8 years of Bill Clinton people would have a more sophisticated view of the politics, culture, and diversity of Arkansas.

I am from Louisiana but live very close to the Arkansas line. The diversity of Arkansas even in the southern regions is something. In many ways it mirrors North Louisiana. A region that even many South Louisiana politicians wrongly think after all these years is one monolithic cultural and political blob. Of course nothing could be further from the truth.

On the whole it draws an interesting comparison between Romney and Huckabee and I think it is right on. For Republicans that want to win in 08 I think they should read the whole thing. However let me post this part:

Arkansas’ legacy is, if anything, the opposite. When a single, backwoods state produces legendary orators like William Fulbright, Dale Bumpers, David Pryor and, of course, Bill Clinton, you have to ask yourself what’s in those hog lots and whether it’s contagious. I expect it has more to do with simple geography. Perfectly situated between the Mississippi and the Missouri, Arkansas, like war-time Belgium, is a small strip of land besieged by the ideologies of its neighbors: farm-belt progressivism, Southern conservatism, Western anti-establishmentism. It takes a powerful gift to negotiate and subdue these disparate cultural strains, and that gift is the ability to tell a riveting story. Huckabee may not be the intellectual equal of some of his predecessors, but he comes from a long line of instinctive and emotive politicians who know how to make an argument stick.

Let me add to that a very dynamic and progressive business culture in the northwestern part of the state. It is not easy being Governor of Arkansas. The fact that Huckabee could speak and indeed unite these different groups and strains of political thought is significant. That is as important as his ability to "tell a story".

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