What the heck, Huck?
Mike Huckabee, that is.
The past and possibly near-future Republican presidential candidate should know by now that just as American women have a right to vote and serve on our military’s front lines, they have a right to cuss.
The former Arkansas governor also should know that the GOP lost the popular vote in the 2000 and 2012 presidential elections despite winning the male vote.
Yet eight days ago on an Iowa radio show, Huckabee perpetuated his party’s patriarchal reputation problem by offering this archaic lament with a dubious regional twist:
“In the South, or in the Midwest, there in Iowa, you would not have people who would just throw the F-bomb and use gratuitous profanity in a professional setting. ... In New York, not only do the men do it, but the women do it. My gosh, this is worse than lockerroom talk. As we would say in the South, that’s just trashy.”
Isn’t South Carolina still in the South?
Didn’t Huckabee spend ample time in our state in 2008, when he finished second behind John McCain in a tight (33-30 percent) GOP primary?
Wasn’t Huckabee listening?
Sure, we here in Charleston are renowned for our good manners — including treating women like ladies.
Yet that doesn’t keep lots of locals from indulging in lots of cursing.
As for the long-overrun tradition of the “gentler sex” being much more delicately spoken than us macho males:
Many modern women, including such cultural luminaries as Lady Gaga, Hillary Clinton and Paris Hilton, are well-known for frequently using vile language.
And booming Broadway great Ethel Merman was an accomplished cusser long before they were born.
Plus, if Mrs. Clinton becomes our first woman president and our second President Clinton (perish the thought), she certainly wouldn’t become our first profane president.
Vice President Joe Biden is another repeat obscenity-spouting offender.
At least ordained Baptist minister Huckabee is the only potential GOP presidential nominee publicly fretting — so far — over excessive expletives, especially from women.
For instance, the SecurityThroughStrength.com website, launched Thursday as prospective groundwork for a Lindsey Graham presidential bid, contains nary a word — good or bad — about foul-mouthed females at work or anywhere else.
However, while Ronald Reagan’s “Peace through Strength” was a succinct “Great Communicator” credo that we should revive, our senior senator’s first-word switch to “Security” casts ominous Orwellian shadows in light of massive snooping on Americans by the National Security Agency.
This week’s revelations about the Drug Enforcement Administration’s monitoring of millions of license plates adds to our justified jitters about Big Brother run amok.
Back to Huckabee decrying that “not only men” but women curse at work:
My exclusive Friday survey of women in a Charleston workplace revealed that 50 percent responded to Huckabee’s particular disapproval of female cussing by cussing.
Then again, the other 50 percent shared Huckabee’s disdain for cussing at work — and took no offense at his gender-based perspective.
Thus, we men again are danged if we do and danged if we don’t.
As Sigmund Freud summed up our enduring exasperation:
“What do women want?”
OK, so the ongoing debasements of our jaded times dig much deeper than a descent into gutter talk.
And on Aug. 3, 1776, more than 12 years before he became our first president and a mere 36 days after British bullies were repulsed by patriots on the southern end of Sullivan’s Island, then-Gen. George Washington issued these “General Orders on Profanity” to the Continental Army:
“The General is sorry to be informed that the foolish, and wicked practice, of profane cursing and swearing (a vice heretofore little known in an American Army) is growing into fashion. He hopes the officers will, by example, as well as influence, endeavor to check it.”
Washington’s hope for a free country was fulfilled.
His hope for a mostly profanity-free military was not.
And my “Stop all your doggone cussing” column last March failed to inspire much local use of G-rated substitutes, including these, for dirty words: shoot, fudge, rats and shucks.
Alas, the decline of verbal decorum, like the related decline of the West, appears irreversible.
So does the GOP’s gender problem if Huckabee and other Republicans keep alienating women.
Yes, Mitt Romney, who on Friday announced his wise decision not to run again in 2016, won the married women’s vote in 2012.
Yes, he also got my enthusiastic, married-man backing back then.
But Romney got clobbered in the single women’s vote.
And any candidate who tells any woman, single or married, that female cussing is worse than male cussing deserves to be clobbered — and maybe even cussed.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.