There’s a lot to be said for questioning the cultural conservative bona fides of someone endorsed by Chuck Norris, Ric Flair and Ted Nugent. Reihan is correct, no doubt, that Huckabee’s embrace of these celebrities fits into a larger appeal to his natural base of supporters (it is probably true that the people who respond most strongly to Huckabee’s mix of populism and social conservatism are also going to be disproportionately fans of celebrities such as these), so that these “macho antics,” as he calls them, serve a kind of symbolic stabilising and reassuring function. There is also something less forced and ridiculous about Huckabee’s embrace of Chuck Norris, who, lest we forget, is an evangelical Christian (you can visit the “Christian area” of his website here) and is now also a WorldNetDaily columnist, than there is about Giuliani’s newly-discovered faux love of NASCAR.
P.S. How is it that no one has made a Huckabee-related Dodgeball joke yet? “Thank you, Chuck Norris.” “No, thank you, Governor Huckabee.” And so on.
This is, in large part, due to the way the pop culture obsessions of previous decades are quickly being recycled into icons of kitsch. Call it the VH1 effect. What was racy, nihilistic, or bloodthirsty in the mid 1980s is now fodder for our generation’s special brand of appreciative snark. Jerry Falwell might have gone nuts over a violent Chuck Norris film during the Reagan era, but the man barely causes shrugs from Tony Perkins in 2007.
Peter’s observation also points to something else more sinister: social conservatives’ apparent willingness to acquiesce in things they regarded as outrageous just twenty years earlier. Some would call this keeping up with the times, but I should think that social conservatives ought to see it as a series of capitulations. One result of these repeated capitulations to cultural degeneration is to desperately seek any rallying points that are available, which entails still more compromises.