December 13, 2007

In which Mike Huckabee reminds me of Jimmy Carter.

About a year ago, when Gerald Ford died, I explained how it happened that I voted for him:
I was all set to vote for Jimmy Carter in 1976. I'd voted for Carter in the New York primary when he was still a face in a crowd of candidates. But the day before the election, I saw a TV interview in which a reporter asked Carter what he would do if he didn't win. He said he'd go back to his peanut farm. This answer -- does it seem innocuous to you? -- gnawed at me overnight, and, as I was walking to my polling place, I sat down to talk about it with someone who was also planning to vote for Carter, and the two of us changed our vote to Ford. It wasn't so much Ford. It was Carter. I'd decided he was a small man. He didn't fit the Presidency. Did Ford? But Ford was already President. In truth, no one deserves to be President. But Ford did not select himself as President. He had only selected himself to represent one legislative district. I found that appealing.
Today, I read an email from my son John with the following quote and the question: "Remind you of anyone?"
‘‘If you aren’t for some reason elected president, what cabinet position would you be suited for?’’ I asked. Huckabee paused, considering. ‘‘Secretary of health and human services would be one,’’ he said. ‘‘Secretary of transportation, or the interior.’’ Perhaps aware that this wasn’t a Mount Rushmore self-evaluation, he quickly added that he doesn’t really want a cabinet position or any other government job. ‘‘I’d be just as happy to go back to Arkansas and open a bait shop on a lake,’’ he said.

41 comments:

Doyle said...

What are the other Republicans planning to do if they lose that's so great?

Does HHS or Education sound too unmanly for you? You looking for the candidate who vows to track down terrorists independent of the government's auspices? That he might sate his thirst for Muslim blood?

Emily said...

I find that most of the people who actually want to be in a position of power for the full duration of their lives, aren't really the people you'd want in power in the first place.

That Carter would be content to going back to peanut farming after the presidency indicates a more well-rounded, non-power hungry person to me.

You want people with designs on later cashing in and becoming lobbyists and CEO's in power? That just screams conflict of interest to me.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Sounds like your 1976 vote was more about Ford "the accidental President" than Carter.

Trooper York said...

Tim Russert: If you lose the Presidency what will you do?
Governor Huckabee: I will open a bait shop.
Fred Thompson: I will be on the Surreal Life.
Mitt Romney: I will start late night seminars on self improvement like Tony Robbins.
Rudy Giuliani: I will personally come to everyone’s house and take them out in handcuffs. I don’t know what you did, but I know you did something.
Senator John Mc Cain: Why am I here?
Alan Keyes: Barack Obama is not a Negro.
Ron Paul: You really, really don’t want to know.
Tim Russert: We will be right back after this message from Cialis.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Does anyone think it unseemly that those running for President are asked questions, say like, how do you plan on reducing the deficit and debt? What’s your energy plan? Will taxes be raised? No instead we’re treated to these idiotic Barbara Walter ‘if you were a twee, what kind of twee would you be?’ questions. For the love of The Prophet (peace be upon him and death to the infidel), is it simply too much to ask for some real questions? No instead we have to wonder if Huckleberry thinks Jesus is Satan’s brother or what he’ll settle for if he loses.

The first candidate, Dem or Pub who tells one of these moronic debate hosts or reporters to go stick their head up their ass gets my vote.

Simon said...

Doyle said...
"Does HHS or Education sound too unmanly for you?"

It just doesn't seem the sort of job that Chuck Norris would want...

JohnAnnArbor said...

For the love of The Prophet (peace be upon him and death to the infidel), is it simply too much to ask for some real questions?

We could ask them this (I got it from a Fark thread): If you buy a teddy bear for $10, name it Mohammed, then sell it for $20, have you made a prophet?

Simon said...

Hoosier Daddy said...
"The first candidate, Dem or Pub who tells one of these moronic debate hosts or reporters to go stick their head up their ass gets my vote."

Thompson came pretty close yesterday!

rhhardin said...

Or move to rural Ohio and stay connected to the world.

MadisonMan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

I notice Huckabee doesn't suggest going back to being a Minister.

Carter was always portrayed as a Peanut Farmer -- it's entirely consistent for him to say he'd go back to peanut farming if he lost. Everything I read about Huckabee says he's a Baptist Minister -- but he's not going back to being a minister if he loses?

Is the Minister part just being used to shore up his cred with Born Again Christians? Will his Minister status be somehow lost and forgotten if he becomes the Republican candidate?

ricpic said...

Carter, Huckabee: all of these Hee Haw guys give me the willies.

Skeptical said...

So, why is George Washington's going back to his farm after two terms a thing of beauty, but Jimmy Carter's willingness to return to his peanut farm if not elected is not?

('Jimmy Carter is no George Washington' does not count as an answer.')

Richard Dolan said...

"The first candidate, Dem or Pub who tells one of these moronic debate hosts or reporters to go stick their head up their ass gets my vote."

No. If they want to insist that the debate be conducted with the seriousness and maturity that the situation demands, the they have to act the role too. Much better to emulate what Sarko did -- just dismiss it all as nonsense unworthy of his time and walk out, leaving the moronic questioner to fill in the empty airtime.

Paddy O. said...

Is the Minister part just being used to shore up his cred with Born Again Christians?

Yes. I firmly believe that when Huckabee was younger he wanted to be a politician. He gained credibility and esteem by becoming a minister rather than a lawyer, which fit his Arkansas roots.

It was tool, not a calling.

But a very useful tool as there are a lot of folks who think he's genuine.

Simon said...

Skeptical said...
"So, why is George Washington's going back to his farm after two terms a thing of beauty, but Jimmy Carter's willingness to return to his peanut farm if not elected is not?"

I don't see how the decision to step down after two terms rather than remain President in perpetuo is remotely comparable to saying what you'd do if not elected.

John Stodder said...

The difference is that Carter was probably lying, trying to appear humble, whereas Huckabee has got it about right. He's a bait-shop owner who teaches Sunday school and tells his kids crazy things about Jesus. He's a small-time guy with cracker-headed ideas, who happens to be smooth and glib enough to have fooled 'em up to this point. That the Democrats think they can engineer things so he becomes the Republican nominee is as sad as a kid wishing for a pony for Christmas.

SteveR said...

In the end Carter didn't go back to peanut farming, a great loss for a great industry, no doubt.

George said...

It's the old Arkansas bait and switch routine.

Revenant said...

So, why is George Washington's going back to his farm after two terms a thing of beauty, but Jimmy Carter's willingness to return to his peanut farm if not elected is not?

What makes Washington's decision so important is that he voluntarily left the leadership of the United States. He could have run again; he probably could have been President for the rest of his life. Instead, he went back to private life again. This was very important for our then-young nation, since it established both that peaceful transfers of power were possible and that the Presidency is just a job -- not a quasi-royal title. It was important to establish those things.

LarsPorsena said...

It would have been better for us and Carter if he had gone back to the farm rather than playing the loose cannon in places like North Korea.

Zeb Quinn said...

It was Carter. I'd decided he was a small man. He didn't fit the Presidency.

What you're saying here, really, is that with that one little seemingly innocuous statement by Carter you were prescient enough to know exactly how he'd perform as president, and you were thereafter vindicated in that assessment.

Trumpit said...

We know what the "caretaker" president, Ford, did after he lost his reelection bid. He golfed a lot and posed for pictures. I think Carter's accomplishments as former president are legion and formidable in contrast. To top it all off, he won the Nobel Peace prize in 2002 "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development."


But I see your point about the goals and aspirations of a candidate should he or she lose. Carter had bigger aspiration than he himself could have envisioned when he was asked what he'd do if he lost the election. Certainly it's different being a former president than just being a former candidate for president who lost. I imagine that President Bush will rapidly fade into anonymity much like Gerald Ford did when his term as president was up. He's going to tear up the links, but little more.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I think Carter's accomplishments as former president are legion and formidable in contrast.

Considering his accomplishments as a president were few and unimpressive.

Revenant said...

I think Carter's accomplishments as former president are legion and formidable in contrast

Yes, its a pity he didn't become a former President sooner. Like, say, February of '77? :)

TMink said...

Emily wrote: "That Carter would be content to going back to peanut farming after the presidency indicates a more well-rounded, non-power hungry person to me."

You would think that, I would too. And yet he has been the most divisive and obnoxious past President. He strikes me as a bitter man.

Trey

Kirk Parker said...

I'm with LarsPorsena: if only Carter had done that...

Paddy O. said...

Since 2002, though, it seems Carter has tried to relive being president and reminded us why he wasn't very good at the job.

I suspect Bush will be quite busy, what with George P due to take office in about 25 years, and maybe Laura's run for office now that she has all the experience.

Plus, Bush Library development, and political speeches that get 6 figures each, and a tell all book that goes into what was going through his mind during all these years.

MadisonMan said...

tell all book that goes into what was going through his mind during all these years.

Thinnest book ever.

knoxwhirled said...

Huckabee paused, considering. ‘‘Secretary of health and human services would be one,’’ he said.

That's an answer from somebody who wants to play "Fun! with Social Engineering!" Certainly not a fiscal conservative. I repeat: Yuckabee.

Bruce Hayden said...

I do like the idea of politicians going back into their previous lives or opening up a non-politician and non-lobbying new occupation. What I don't like are career politicians who spend their lives on the public dole spending everyone else's money to keep getting reelected.

One of the reasons that I am a Republican in Colorado is that there the Republicans overall tend to go to Wash. and "serve a spell", then go on to something else. It is the Democrats who try to make lifetime careers out of it. So, we now have Hank Brown trying to turn around the University of Colorado, after having done the same to U. Northern Colorado, after retiring from the Senate. That is my ideal. The only Democrat in my memory there who voluntarily left office (w/o attempting for another) was Gov. Dick Lamm (aka Gov. Gloom), who served (I think) 10 years, and then left on his own volition w/o any subsequent runs for political office.

Middle Class Guy said...

In my lifetime I have seen two Southern governors become President. Jimmy Carter was a total disaster and failure. Bill Clinton accomplished absolutely nothing in his wight years in office.

Southern governors should stay in the South and run their peanut farms or bait shops. They should not help run their wives campaigns.

Revenant said...

In my lifetime I have seen two Southern governors become President.

Er, Texas IS generally considered part of the South -- even if Texans deny it. :)

GeorgeH said...

I get Jimmy Carter vibes off of him too.
Scary.

Revenant said...

I get a Lonesome Rhodes vibe off him, myself. :)

Palladian said...

"tell all book that goes into what was going through his mind during all these years.

Thinnest book ever."

Not at all! A lot of stuff went through his head. In one ear and out the other...

John Lynch said...

Cincinattus?

Simon Kenton said...

I voted for Ford, for perhaps a less creditable reason than Ms Althouse. During the runup to the election, I was watching a television (an activity which quite suddenly became much less common in our household in '82, when someone put 7 from a .45 through it. Mere coincidence? I think not). On the screen appeared a slavering, bellering cracker, clearly determined to be as big a fool in public as he could. I thought, "Leave it to the news people to get the LCD of any audience and expect us to take the poor moron seriously." When there was a gap in the codswallop, the newscaster identified the source of the sound and fury as Billy Carter, the president's brother.

I thought, "OK, I will take this seriously. Genes. Genes."

Tom Hilton said...

I saw a TV interview in which a reporter asked Carter what he would do if he didn't win. He said he'd go back to his peanut farm.

It could have been worse. He could have said he would start a charitable organization to help poor and homeless people build themselves housing. You would have really hated that.

former law student said...

He could have said he would start a charitable organization to help poor and homeless people build themselves housing.

That would be the Fullers, who founded Habitat for Humanity eight years before the Carters showed up in their work clothes, after being out of the White House for four years.

Fen said...

To top it all off, he won the Nobel Peace prize in 2002

That no longer means what it used to.