Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The "Affable" Huckabilly

Ah, the Huckabilly!

This coming weekend, The New York Times Sunday Magazine features a long profile on Mike Huckabee, and despite the fleshed-out, state of the art portraiture, the whole thing comes down to the ex-governor's down-home, good ol' preacher boy "affability," a word the Times piece wastes no time using in the first few paragraphs.

By the story's end, even after demonstrations of Huckabee's likability and his ignorance (avoidance of basic 20th Century knowledge) of Biblical proportions, his jeans-on-the-front-porch Hillbilly Soul, the moral of the story is the same as it ever was.

We used to think the taller presidential candidates prone to winning (and throughout human history, there is anthropological evidence aplenty to support that). But ever since the advent of televangelized, sound bite candidacies, the Affability Factor wins just about every time!

Take note: the less stiff, the less robotic of the candidates has the edge (as long as he isn't TOO bland and doesn't rant or otherwise get too edgy). The taller guy still has an advantage, but the shorter person can overcome that with other attributes better conveyed from the distant stage, especially in ten-second clips on the you-know-what.

Let's look at presidential elections since 1960, when the TV camera began to run the show:

Kennedy over Nixon (clearly), Johnson over Goldwater (a closer call, though Johnson stiffened more after he won while Goldwater loosened up after retiring), Nixon over Humphrey (hard to call, an aberration? '68 was a MESS of a year!), Nixon over McGovern (two stiffs, one a soft stiff, one stiff in power), Carter over Ford (clearly), Reagan over Carter (clearly), Reagan over Mondale (clearly again), Bush over Dukakis (two stiffs, but Bush was the much more ambling speaker), Clinton over all comers (and poor Bob Dole, a funny man out of campaign mode), Bush over Gore (again, a Bush the more ambling, if illiterate, speaker of the two and certainly less robotic), and Bush over Kerry (the drawling Texas squeaks by a buttoned-down Yankee every time).

The most affable/comfortable speaker of the Republicans this round: Huckabee (who towers in affability over the much taller and more imposing but not-so-discreetly scripted Fred Thompson.

The most affable/comfortable speaker of the Democrats this round: I'd say of the leading three, John Edwards. And of the marginal candidates, Dennis Kucinich, who, at times, seems almost ready for prime-time PBS, a cross between Charlie Rose, Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street.

As we're seeing, the Affability Factor rides again. Game ON!


At 12/13/2007 3:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Edwards: Snakes are reptiles that have very small eyes.



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