Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hardly a Huckster

Concord, NH -

As you can see in my previous live-blog post from the Huckabee appearance in Concord this morning, the majority of the discussion revolved around diet and nutrition. Better yet, that was pretty much all he spoke about. Quite unusual for a Presidential candidate to talk about making healthy lifestyle choices and cutting out fast food, but for Governor Huck it is merely part of a steady diet of common sense.

The whole issue of the event pertaining to a food show aside, Huckabee's commitment to the idea of a healthy lifestyle serve as a potent metaphor for his campaign and his ability to serve as President. No, really.

First off, the personal aspect of Huckabee's own weight loss and drastic change in diet and exercise habits are the baseline for a compelling personal story of salvation and self-improvement, not to mention one that millions of Americans can relate to. If Drew Westen has taught us anything, the ability of a candidate to tell a story is not just helpful to a modern would-be President, it is imperative.

Better yet, as health care continues to sit near the top of the issue list of Dems and GOPs alike, Huckabee can establish himself as the real deal of the right wing. Others pay lip service to a better health care system, Mike Huckabee lives it. Are you going to trust someone like Rudy Giuliani to take care of you by establishing a car insurance system or do you want the leadership of someone who has made health a top priority in his own life?

When voters hear stories about the shocking costs of preventative diseases in our country, and listen in horror to tales of out-of-control childhood obesity, will that shift their minds away from the fear-mongering of Mitt and Rudy? Especially when Huckabee touts his own hawkish foreign policy?

Speaking of which, I will call out any candidate who makes a major issue out of protecting the "sanctity of life" while claiming that, as President, he would "expand the army and increase the defense budget." I still don't get the ideology behind that one, whether you are Sam Brownback, George W Bush, or Tom Tancredo. If you are going to stand up for the life of the unborn, why leave Iraqi already-born outside in the hard, lifeless cold? And don't give me that bullshit about protecting American lives by killing the terrorist over there. A real "pro-lifer" is a pacifist.

On the bright side, Huckabee touts his pro-life credentials to include the notion that "every child deserves a quality education, first-rate health care, decent housing in a safe neighborhood, and clean air and drinking water." That goes with his commitment to sound health. The more people hear about the dangers of obesity and trans fats, especially when it comes to their children, the more they will realize that it truly is one of the major challenges of this generation. No matter how Iraq turns out, or where we get on mitigating climate change, we will be crippled by our health care costs soon enough if we don't get healthier as a nation, and fast. Besides, it is a well-documented fact that fat people sweat more than fit people. Imagine the brutal combination of an obesity epidemic and major climate change. You think bottled water is a problem now? Give it fifteen years of weight gain and carbon concentration.

Yikes! Back to the plan. Huckabee's background highlights the connection to down home America. In his interview, he touched on the scourge of Southern food where all items are breaded and deep fried, and the only difference between dinner and dessert is that one is covered in gravy and the other in powdered sugar. This led to Governor Huckabee's 2 Rules of Nutrition
  1. "If it wasn't a food a hundred years ago, it isn't a food today. Stay away from fried foods, processed sugar, processed foods."
  2. "If the food comes to you through the car window, it isn't food."
Darn tootin'! I really didn't need to show that to prove any points. On the contrary it almost seems incongruous to the flow, but it is such an awesome set of rules that I dared not leave it out of the article. Not only does he hype cutting back on damaging and readily available junk food, but he advocates more exercise for our country, and he backs it up with miles and miles of proof. Believe it or not, this helps him with his conservative bona fides. Yes, its true. While leading by example, Huckabee can show that federal programs are less important than a little good, old-fashioned bootstraps behavior. In his interview he simultaneously showed support for fitness programs in schools while quipping, "Its not dry cleaning, you don't drop them off in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon well fed and well exercised." Programs are good. Lifestyle choices are better. What could be more musical to a conservative's ears?

He reiterated that health care needs to change from intervention-based to prevention based. "There is enough money in our system to buy universal health care," he mentioned, but a socialized system is not the solution. He spent a couple minutes talking about how medical records should be portable and available, and that we need to get away from the post-WW2 model where health is tied to the employer, who retires at 65 and dies at 72. He didn't give any specifics about solutions, except to say that he intended to provide choices, but this early in the game it is always nice to hear that an employer-paid system needs to be scrapped. Given his polemic about the dangers of obesity peppered in all day, we were ready to hear anything.

At last, the host asks him about the Press 1 for English thing. He wants to know if he will support a national movement to make English the only official language of the USA. Huckabee never really answered it, and instead told all about assimilation camps in Israel. He acknowledged that national unity is held together by the Jewish religion, but hinted that the real secret lie in an adherence to the Hebrew language. Fluency is apparently required for citizenship, and newcomers stay in a camp environment for as long as it takes before you can move out into the country. In the best interest for those who want to succeed, Huckabee said, and went on to mention that English is the universal language of flight. Clearly he was getting at the idea that it was a good idea for everyone to speak English but stopped short of advocating for any Federal movement on the idea. Whether he was afraid to offend or staying true to his conservative ideals remains to be seen. Still, he seemed intelligent about the problem of fractured national identity, and willing to look into the idea.

After a final commercial break, he spouted some softies about New Hampshire, mentioning that the best part about the state was it's beautifully cool August weather. I couldn't agree more, unless he said the Pemigewasset River. But I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, he's probably never seen it. Huckabee showed his folksy humor throughout the conversation, answering that he hadn't been campaigning seven days a week, but rather eight. Better yet, he recognized that New Hampshire's motto wasn't just "Live free or Die," but for a visiting politician it was just as equally stated, "support the Red Sox or die." Take that, Hillary Clinton. By the way, did you notice that in Bill Richardson's recent Ask Bill videos he has a Sox hat in the background? Hott.

He also said that the Granite Staters were just plain nice, "kind of like Southern people with a different accent." Undoubtedly that comes from his own personal charm. Having been hard on the campaign trail for two months now, Huckabee easily wins the award for the most charming, personable, and that tricky subjective one - "real". When shaking hands after the interview he approached me and had the gall to introduce himself.

"Hi, I'm Mike Huckabee."

Not knowing what to say, I nervously and school girlishly replied "uh, I'm Bryan." He had me at hello. Subsequently I forgot to thank him for making fitness such a visible part of life to millions of people, and I just thanked him for being in New Hampshire. He followed that up with a prediction that he would be up here so much in the fall that he might need to get a resident hunting license. Watch out, ye moose!


zone said...

you might want to also include candidates views on the death penalty. it's certainly not a politically popular issue with more that 60% of America in favor of the ultimate penalty, including majorities of republicans, democrats and independents. ( i think this is a recent article)

But no matter how you dress it up state sanctioned killing is....well, killing.

BTB said...

Much appreciated. You're right, I used to think of the death penalty a heck of a lot more, well, four and a half years ago.