Saturday, November 10, 2007

Gomer Pyle v. Camelot

Much has been written about the political liability of Romney’s Mormon faith. But I’ve not seen much of anything written about the political liability of Huckabee’s Baptist faith.

To some extent, one’s religious affiliation is a stereotypical emblem of one’s social class. This has some factual or historical basis, although it’s easy to overgeneralize.

For the moment, though, I’m only concened with popular perception, and not with how accurate that perception may be. Why is it that so many Evangelical leaders are endorsing the Mormon candidate rather than the Baptist candidate?

Of course, we know their stated reasons, but there may also be an unspoken reason. To be tactless, Romney is Camelot to Huckabee’s Gomer Pyle. I’m not saying that this comparison is the least bit fair. I’m just suggesting that it may be the elephant in the room.

Romney’s the manor-born Brahman, with the Ivy League degrees, and the movie star looks to Huckabee’s hillbilly Babdist. Romney’s old money to Huckabee’s po’ white trailer trash; Romney’s blueblood to Huckabee’s redneck; Romney’s Mozart to Huckabee’s bluegrass; Romney’s Polo to Huckabee’s rodeo; Romney’s a Lexis to Huckabee’s Ford tuff pickup truck.

Of course, Evangelical leaders aren’t going to express their preference in this fashion since that would expose a deep streak of snobbery, but you have to wonder if Huckabee’s Baptist faith isn’t being held against him.

He’s not just a Baptist. He’s a Southern Baptist. And not merely in the technical sense of belonging to the SBC. You could be a Connecticut Yankee and belong to the SBC. No, I mean that, culturally (as well as religiously), Huckabee is a Southern Baptist. And he just doesn’t project the image that some Evangelical leaders want the GOP to project.

Some might object that this can’t be so since some of the folks endorsing Romney share the same religious affiliation as Huckabee. But that doesn’t follow. It’s quite possible to be ashamed of your roots.

It’s like the talented, ambitious kid who comes from the wrong side of the tracks. He makes it to the Ivy Leagues. Becomes a Wall Street arbitrager.

But he’s embarrassed to introduce his friends to his kinfolk. He can’t invite them to social gatherings cuz they speak the upcountry dialect and their table manners aren’t up to snuff. It’s like that old question, “Sure, he’s a nice kid, but would you want your daughter to date him?”

1 comment:

  1. I think there is a simpler explanation: Romney is more likely to get the nomination than Huckabee and people want to support a candidate early.