by Max Brantley
In yet another profile Mike Huckabee makes the statement that his mother was a "generation away from dirt floors and outdoor toilets." If you listen real fast, you might think Mike Huckabee -- son of an office worker mother and a firefighter father in Hope and graduate of a private college -- had to endure dirt floors and a smelly one-holer himself.
But no. His mother was a generation away from dirt floors. That is, she didn't have dirt floors either. Perhaps her mother did. That would be Mike's grandmother. Doesn't have a thing to do with Mike's childhood, but it surely does make the story more colorful, his upbringing ever so much more humble.
I may adopt this approach myself. Why, my mother was one generation away from the blood-filled trenches of France and the carnage of an Army field hospital. My father was one generation away from an outhouse-equipped North Louisiana melon patch, where a Confederate veteran toiled.
I had wood floors, indoor toilets (a couple of them, even), air conditioning and occasional use of a Plymouth as a lad. But it sounds so much better the other way. The press, surely, will lap it right up.
And one more bit of frequent Huck fiction in this profile: There was no "constitutional crisis" the day Jim Guy Tucker briefly reneged on his promise to resign as governor. There was a crisis of convenience for Mike Huckabee, whose swearing-in plans were disrupted. There was a great deal of confusion and it certainly was a day of high political drama. But the facts are that Tucker was governor and remained governor until he quit. There was no automatic disqualfication on account of his federal conviction. He could be impeached by the House and tried by the Senate for "high crimes and misdemeanors" or "gross misconduct in office." But the legislature wasn't in session and only the governor had the power to convene it. Tucker intended to appeal his conviction and he could have argued for his fitness to hold office until the verdict was affirmed. Politically, it would have been a bad proposition, but possible.
Huckabee was calm during the several hours of confusion, no doubt, though some of his supporters pitched ugly scenes in the hallway over the disruption of the expected coronation. What else was there to do but be calm, after all? Huckabee couldn't very well have seized command of the militia or State Police and put Tucker under house arrest. Now, THAT would have been a crisis. Cooler heads prevailed. Friends of Tucker persuaded him that, after his conviction, the right thing to do was to resign as he'd promised. He did, a few hours late. Huckabee's demeanor that day earned him a tremendous amount of goodwill, deservedly. But constitutional crisis? Give that phrase a rest, profile writers.