Huck’s Canine Ghosts

A UPS truck stopped by a few minutes ago and delivered a copy of Mike Huckabee’s new book, God, Guns, Grits and Gravy. I’m checking it out for a possible review for WaMo, not because of any particular fascination with Huck, but in order to discuss the continuing evolution of the literary genre known as the “campaign book,” the pre-campaign tome that has become as obligatory for presidential wannabes as a trip to Israel. I’m qualified because of my involvement in a “campaign book” back in 2004, and so I opened Huck’s offering and looked with experienced eyes for signs of a “ghost” in the Acknowledgements (since Huckabee did not identify one with a co-byline or a “as told to'” sub-byline).

In the place you’d normally find an oblique reference to a ghost-writer, Huck credits his two dogs, who “have done their best to provide inspiration and companionship when my wife has long since gone to bed.” Okay. A bit further down he mentions two helper-monkeys “who have worked with me for several years as writers and researchers for my daily radio commentary, The Huckabee Report, and who helped research a lot of the material in the book that illustrates the message inside.” That could be code for “they wrote this book,” but maybe not; I’ll have to see if it reads like the clippings from the editing floor of a hundred radio show script sessions. You have to assume a trained communicator like Huck is capable of more or less writing his own book; after all, the man spent years writing and delivering sermons before running for office. But if so, and he does run for president again, it’s probably the last thing he’ll have time to write other than thank-you notes to donors.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.