Friday, December 14, 2007

You don't have to be liberal ....

to look down your nose at Mike Huckabee. Conservatives at The National Review and The Weekly Standard seem to be doing plenty of it these days. It is fair to engage in Huckabashing because of policy differences, or in questions about how well the governor is prepared for a serious run at the presidency. In my own view, Gov. Huckabee has given other conservatives plenty of fodder in recent days and weeks for legitimate criticism.

But in a not insignificant amount of the criticism to date, there is plenty of sheer snobbery. You would expect this contempt from places like The Nation or Rolling Stone or even Andrew Sullivan. I just thought maybe people who generally found the Republican Party a hospitable home would actually have some respect or at least make some attempt at a general understanding of a wide swath of America that forms the base of the GOP.

However, the fact that Mike Huckabee is from a small Southern state, went to a Baptist college, and spent his young adult years as an aide to a pastor, and then a pastor himself apparently earns him extra helpings of "let's-eat-our-young" fire from the right.

(Note: Earlier version called it a Bible college, but it's actually not, and in fact a highly rated college according to U.S. News & World Report).

Such as:

Andrew Stuttaford, who as a Brit and a New Yorker probably understands the South as well as I understand the difference between Uptown or Downtown Manhattan, links Huckabee with the Puritans

Richlieu, whoever that is, at the Weekly Standard, likens Huckabee to a "simpleton" and mocks where the governor went to college.

And the reigning queen of "we hate those Baptists from the South" snobbery, Lisa Schiffren. She's a former speechwriter for Dan Quayle, a declared Rudy supporter, and a definer of what is "tacky:. She can hardly post on National Review with a reference to where Huckabee went to college, which of course wasn't nearly as prestigious as Bryn Mawr. You can just read her sneer here:

That bait shop on the lake — it's looking good. You'll be surrounded by nice neighbors, real Christians, and you can be the smartest guy in the room. You can go out running every morning. Remember Huck — Jesus wouldn't be dumb enough to go into politics.You were right on that one. Maybe it's not what he wants from you either.

Yes, those people in the South, they're stupid. Even "no count." Especially if they didn't go to a fancy college in Pennsylvania. And especially if they believe the Bible. I suppose this kind of snobbery is one's birthright if you have climbed the social ladder high enough to get your wedding announcement in The New York Times.

Finally today Rich Lowry calls for an end to this nonsense, or at least some of it. Mike Huckabee can and should be able to handle criticism about policy or his politics -- and if he can't, he shouldn't be the Republican nominee. But real people ought to be able to have honest discussions about what it means to be a conservative without resorting to claiming themselves superior because they were born north of the Mason-Dixon line and have a degree from a better college.



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