Mike Huckabee’s new book “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy” is packed with plentiful references to each of those four cultural staples.
But the former Arkansas governor and Fox News talk show host also has a good deal to say about every other corner of American life, from Beyonce and Jay-Z, to the indignity of being frisked at the airport to his ongoing fisticuffs with a combative Washington political organization.
Huckabee’s tome is set for release later this month, when he will embark on an eight-state tour to promote it at the same time he mulls a 2016 presidential campaign.
U.S. News obtained an early copy of the book. Here are the five best vignettes from it:
1. “Jay-Z, The Pimp”
Huckabee hardly leaves a celebrity spared in his riffs on the corrosive effects of Hollywood culture, but he saves special scorn for hip-hop’s most famous couple, Jay-Z and Beyonce. Huckabee compared the duo’s 2013 Grammy Award performance to watching “foreplay.”
2. “The claim that same-sex marriage is destroying society is actually greatly overstated.”
Yes, that is a statement from Huckabee, the longtime foe of gay marriage who has threatened to leave the Republican Party if it abandons its opposition to it. He devotes an entire chapter to same-sex nuptials, laying out his Biblical-based rationale for his position as well as raising several hypothetical scenarios about the future of the institution of marriage. But he appears to pour cold water on the oft-cited conservative argument that allowing gay marriage would damage heterosexual unions.
But don’t expect Huckabee to hop on the gay marriage train. He laments a court system that is forcing businesses to cater to gay weddings, even if violates their own religious beliefs. Given the current trend in judicial and public opinion, he floats the possibility of a future that expands marriage to more than two people.
Huckabee still fears the slide toward marriage equality is devaluing the entire tradition, but he also concedes that the true impact of gay marriage is unknown.
That’s a considerable concession for such an unflinching figure at the helm of the culture war.
3. The Club for Growth are “suicide bombers.”
When Huckabee quit his Fox News show last Saturday to announce his serious consideration of another White House campaign, the anti-tax group Club for Growth was quickly out of the gate vowing it would again shine light on this fiscal record, which they find to be reckless.
The Club was a primary antagonist in Huckabee’s 2008 foray, spending a million dollars against him in the early nominating states of Iowa and South Carolina. But Huckabee reveals that after that election, he sat down with the Club’s leaders in Washington to find common ground.
If Huckabee runs, the Club will be at the fore of his opposition again. And the relationship isn’t likely to thaw given the way he describes them in his book. He refers to conservative groups like the Club that take aim at fellow Republicans as “suicide bombers.” He even draws an analogy to Nidal Hasan, the U.S. Army officer who opened fire on his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood in 2009, killing 14 people.
4. John Edwards was right.
Serial adulterer. Notorious liar. All-around con man. Those are all words Huckabee uses to describe John Edwards, the former Democratic presidential candidate and one-term senator.
But he actually applauds Edwards, who admitted fathering a child of his mistress, for his description of the “Two Americas,” one of prosperity and the other of poverty.
This reveals the populist streak that makes Huckabee a more complex and potentially appealing contender in 2016. Having grown up poor in Arkansas, he is well-positioned to address economic stratification in a very personal, visceral way. That, in combination with his inherent cultural conservatism, is what makes him such a potent candidate in southern states and portions of the Midwest.
5. Chapter 10: “Bend Over and Take It Like a Prisoner!”
Simply the most eye-popping title chapter in Huckabee’s book. It’s an innuendo to the burdensome security process at America’s airports where travelers are “ordered to stand still, put up [their] hands and have [their] personal belongings taken and searched without warrant or probable cause.”