It’s the second week of 2015, and we’re already within sight of the 2016 general election. With election season officially open, the American political climate is rife with speculation on prospective candidates, and every major media outlet in the country is stoking with gusto the fervor of punditry and posturing. While some potential candidates, such as Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, have dominated headlines, former presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee seems to be doing all he can to create a conversation around himself and his possible 2016 candidacy. This effort appears to include taking potshots at President Obama, the first family, Jay-Z, and Beyoncé.
In an interview published yesterday in People, Huckabee is quoted as comparing the Obama daughters’ dietary habits with their tastes in music, saying “I don’t understand how on one hand [the Obamas] can be such doting parents and so careful about the intake of everything — how much broccoli they eat and where they go to school … and yet they don’t see anything that might not be suitable” about Beyoncé’s lyrical content. Huckabee did the interview, in part, to promote his upcoming book, God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy, in which he refers to Beyoncé’s lyrics as “obnoxious and toxic mental poison.” In the book, Huckabee also likens Jay-Z, Beyoncé’s husband, to a pimp, implying a dynamic of exploitation between him and his wife. Huckabee continued his criticism of Beyoncé in the People interview by characterizing her choreography as racy and overtly sexual, deeming it “best left for the privacy of her bedroom.”
For Huckabee’s part, this seems to be an incisive and deliberately personal insult, one that applies sexualizing, racially tone-deaf stereotypes. It also seems like a somewhat facile barb to hurl at the president. The ties between the first family and the Carters, who are often referred to colloquially by the media as hip-hop royalty, are well documented; the two families have appeared in public often over the past few years. At a 2012 fundraiser in New York, President Obama acknowledged Jay-Z and Beyoncé, expressing gratitude for their friendship and calling Beyoncé, who has performed for the president and his wife on several occasions, a “role model” for his daughters.
Racial and sexual overtones aside, Huckabee’s derision of the Obama and Carter families is unlikely to gain him any popularity. As a point of comparison, Beyoncé currently has 67.1 million fans on Facebook, while Huckabee enjoys a slightly more humble 1.7 million.
Recently, Huckabee has made a concerted attempt to generate interest in the notion of his presidential candidacy, though he has not officially declared himself as running for office. However, aside from last week, when he ended his FOX News show, saying “goodbye” on air, he seems not to have done all that much to drive any sort of conversation around his candidacy. The Daily Show roundly mocked Huckabee’s public sign-off, with host Jon Stewart sardonically addressing the politician, saying, “I mean, I don’t know, maybe we run in different circles but I haven’t heard any Huckabuzz. Besides, you’ve already got a good job over there on Fox News, right? If you leave, who will they have to represent the aggrieved, white, Christian, conservative viewpoint—oh, okay, I get it. I guess you can go.” As he reviewed Huckabee’s on-air farewell, Stewart, characteristically exasperated, screamed about Huckabee’s potential campaign for president, “Nobody’s talking about it! You’re the only one!”