Thursday, October 09, 2008
I thought a more accurate depiction of the source of their hatred had something to do with how policy decisions affect real people. And our tendency to wash up with food.
It is the excess of Western culture that is really to blame for the enemies we seem to accrue like so much debt. Americans are a wasteful people. Avocado is a facial wash. We scoff at the sight of burnt toast. We are obsessed with a pop-culture phenomenon that consists of someone on throwing dollar bills that flutter down on people at a disco. All of it has programmed us to believe that there are rules of status – one of them being that they do not associate with us.
So when Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas who finished second to eventual nominee John McCain in a several primaries this year, sat down on the D train the other day, my thought was that it wasn't him. I was with a group that included my good friend Gary, a producer at NBC, Jennifer, a fashion designer, Lindsay, an accountant for a private dental practice and future dental student, and Patrice, a musician. "This guy," I proclaimed, "looks just like Mike Huckabee."
Patrice stared at him and suddenly was drunk with laughter. "Oh woooooow, he does."
The only problem, of course, was that he was Mike Huckabee sans press secretary, personal assistant or any type of security. He wore a blue shirt that had the initials M.D.H in cursive writing at the cuff and carried an unmarked bag that looked like it was take out from a cheap Chinese restaurant. After all, he had gotten on at Grand St. A man and woman came up to him.
"We're big fans of yours," one of them said, as if he was still on the campaign trail in Iowa. He thanked them warmly, naturally, and they sat back down.
"You know," I said, motioning to him to get his attention. "I'm sitting here saying", wow, this guy looks like Mike Huckabee. Now I feel like an idiot."
He laughed, and robotically stuck out his hand. "I'm Mike."
He mentioned a few tidbits about his show on Fox News, which is why he was in New York. "They treating you well up there?" I asked.
"Oh yes, just fine. Though I'm sure I'll say something sooner or later that'll cancel that out real quick," he said, alluding to his pension for controversial public comments. We all laughed.
Huckabee spoke with the sort of fluid cadence that was his mark on the trail, the type of speech that makes it sound like everything he says is funny. He asked where I lived. He mentioned that he visited a church in Harlem that he really enjoyed, then asked where we went to church. I gave the Kings Church of Christ, and our ridiculously talented minister, David Wilson, a huge plug.
"Mike Huckabee?" a 20-something guy with blond hair, stuck out his hand. He acknowledged him and smiled. "I like your style man!"
Flattered and maybe a little embarrassed, Huckabee motioned to all of us, saying, "I guess liking my style means that it's pretty cool that I'm riding the subway."
He widened his eyes and shrugged, as if not knowing what to say to that.
His actions said that status does not mean you have to be excessive.
"It's the easiest way to get somewhere."
The reporter in me came out eventually. I asked him what he thought about Sarah Palin's performance in the debate against Joe Biden on Thursday. He would refer to Sarah Palin as "Sarah." And Katie Couric as "Katie."
"I thought Sarah really helped herself," he said with gravitas, a sign that he is taking his job as a political analyst for Fox News seriously. "I mean, she was just dreadful with Katie. And I mean awful. I really like her and she's a terrific friend of mine but she was terrible."
He was close to his stop now. I asked if he'd be embarrassed if we asked for a picture. Gary had his camera. "Oh no, no not all."
So we took one big, black happy photo with Mike Huckabee on the D train.