Call this one a two-fer for Megyn Kelly, who gets to slam Politico while playfully tweaking Mike Huckabee just a bit in this amusing segment from last night. Kelly ripped the report on Huckabee’s comments regarding “gratuitous profanity in a professional setting” that claimed Huckabee was complaining about women at Fox News, a story that was later discredited rather easily by just reading his book and listening to the audio. Kelly starts off the interview with a self-deprecating reference to one of her more infamous flubs, and finishes with a girl power statement of sorts (via Jeff Dunetz):
KELLY: Well, I do have news for you before I let you go.
KELLY: We are not only swearing, we’re drinking, we’re smoking, we’re having pre-marital sex with birth control before we go to work, and sometimes boss around a bunch of men. [Laughter] I gotta leave it at that.
HUCKABEE: [Laughing, smiling] Ah, I just don’t want to hear that. I don’t want to hear that.
The Hill takes this far too seriously, saying that Kelly “fires back” at Huckabee when she’s clearly defending him in this segment, and having fun at the end. That’s a bit ironic, considering the pedigree of this narrative. Huckabee calls the original story “an utterly fabricated lie” from Politico, and name-checks the Daily Caller for holding Politico accountable for it. The problem, Huckabee says, is that people tried to write about his argument without actually reading it, which we’re also seeing with film reviews and analysis these days. The proliferation of ignorant “hot takes” might be an even bigger cultural issue than profanity and the coarsening of American culture. Huckabee does a good job here of skewering Politico with humor and grace while using the controversy to make his larger argument.
Still, as significant as the cultural issue may or may not be — and I tend to agree with Huckabee that it’s a problem — it seems like a poor entrée into a presidential campaign, assuming that’s what Huckabee has in mind. Put aside that the debunked report provided momentary CPR for the flatlining “war on women” meme; voters don’t look to presidential candidates for this kind of cultural direction, at least not as a priority. Voters, especially Republican primary voters, want to talk about national security, foreign policy, the economy, an overwhelming federal government, and curtailing abuses of power in Washington, especially in regulatory and tax regulation and enforcement. In other words, if there isn’t a policy solution to the problem being discussed, voters probably “don’t want to hear that” either, in the context of a political campaign.
The debate over cultural decline a great topic for a talk-radio host, but a bit of a non-sequitur for a political candidate at the national level. If Huckabee wants to make a serious run at the nomination, he’ll need to change the subject soon.