Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s Hallucinatory Vision Of America

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s Press Secretary, delivered the Republican response to President Biden’s State of the Union address last Tuesday. It was vintage Sanders, packed with lies.

I see three themes in the speech: self-promotion, bashing Joe Biden and the Democrats, and amplifying the obsessions of the Qrazy base. There were also subliminal themes visible primarily to true believers.


Sanders reminds us she is a “mom” of three, the youngest governor in the nation, and has big plans for conservative education in Arkansas. She gives off strong Trump vibes. Just before the end of the speech she tells us she accompanied Trump on a surprise trip to Iraq.

One of the young soldiers yelled from the back, ‘Mr. President, I reenlisted in the military because of you.’ The President said, ‘and son, I am here because of you.’
“Shortly after, that young soldier came up to me and said, ‘Sarah, you have a tough job.’ I told him ‘What I do is nothing. You take bombs and bullets. That’s a tough job.’
“And in a moment that I know I’ll cherish for the rest of my life, that soldier reached up, and pulled the Brave Rifles Patch he wore on his shoulder and placed it into my hand, a sign of ultimate respect, and said, ‘Sarah, we are in this together.’

“Overwhelmed with emotion and speechless, I just hugged him, with tears in my eyes and a grateful heart for our heroes who keep us free. 

It’s not quite Trumpian. That would require the soldier to have tears in his eyes. Also, gag.

Bashing Joe Biden

Sanders gives us an apocalyptic view of the current state of the union. She asserts that Biden and the Democrats are destroying the country with their terrible high inflation brought on by terrible spending, terrible border crisis, terrible tax burdens, terrible crime rate, terrible weakness on China, and other terrible stuff. She delivers this nonsense just as seriously as she all her other lies.

Right-Wing Obsessions

Let’s look at two excerpts from the speech.

In the radical left’s America, Washington taxes you and lights your hard-earned money on fire, but you get crushed with high gas prices, empty grocery shelves, and our children are taught to hate one another on account of their race, but not to love one another or our great country.

The part about lighting your money on fire is hilariously deluded considering how much of that money is spent in Red States. The idea that the President controls gasoline prices is delusional, and ignores the steps taken Biden to lower them and the record profits of the oil business and the refusal of Senate Republicans to deal with inflation. Sorry, I know it’s pointless to discuss reality in this context and it won’t happen again.

Sanders is determined to do something about Critical Race Theory and indoctrination which must be rampant in Arkansas schools, presumably as a result of the failure of her Republican predecessor as governor. Apparently she thinks the dominant leftist culture in Arkansas is using Critical Race Theory to indoctrinate kids into hating one another on account of race and despising our country, and she’s not going to go along with that.

Now consider this passage:

And while you reap the consequences of their failures, the Biden administration seems more interested in woke fantasies than the hard reality Americans face every day. Most Americans simply want to live their lives in freedom and peace, but we are under attack in a left-wing culture war we didn’t start and never wanted to fight.
“Every day, we are told that we must partake in their rituals, salute their flags, and worship their false idols, all while big government colludes with Big Tech to strip away the most American thing there is—your Freedom of speech.
“That’s not normal. It’s crazy, and it’s wrong.

Let that paranoid fantasy sink in. Remember, she’s normal, you’re crazy.

Dog Whistles

I’m not fluent in Qrazy tropes so I’m certain I don’t get all of the subliminal messages she’s delivering. But here are a couple of things.

Evangelism. Her religious fervor is strong. She survived thyroid cancer, and she and her family “kept our faith and persevered”. Her mother had spinal cancer at the age of 20 and was told she might not survive but certainly wouldn’t have children. And yet here’s Sarah [implying it’s a miracle]. She adds that “faith propels us to charge boldly ahead”. Throughout the speech you can hear the echoes of St. Paul, Eph. 6:10-12:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Racism is over.

Down the street from where I sit is my alma mater, Little Rock Central High. As a student there, I will never forget watching my dad, Governor Mike Huckabee, and President Bill Clinton hold the doors open to the Little Rock Nine, doors that forty years earlier had been closed to them because they were black. Today, those children once barred from the schoolhouse are now heroes memorialized in bronze at our statehouse.

So that’s all we need to do, except we can’t teach CRT because it says that racism is not over.

Recall that bit about “lighting your tax money on fire”. That’s a dog whistle meaning the money is being spent on those undeserving [not-white] people, not the deserving {white people]. It’s a racist trope dating back at least to Reconstruction.

Democrats are the real fascists. She repeats the idea that Democrats want to control “you”, the decent people. There are no examples of this, except the part about forcing “you” to worship the false idols of the Democrats which is not a real thing.

Trump is too old to run. Throughout the speech, Sanders reminds us that she’s really young, and that there are lots of other young, vigorous leaders in the conservative movement. Biden is old. So is Trump. Time for them to be replaced.

Press coverage. It’s pretty much “This is normal”. Greg Sargent points out that she’s speaking in a code not known by normal Americans, but I haven’t seen anything else. I guess it is normal for the crazy party and the rest of us should just get used to it.
Updated to correct errors about source of lies on the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd. It was Sean Spicer, not Sanders. H/T commenter Matt___B. And Sanders was not the first of Trump’s Press Secretaries.

36 replies
  1. P J Evans says:

    I keep remembering growing up in the 50s and 60s (in California) and all the indoctrination we got in school. Starting with the flag salute every morning, and including anti-Communist movies that show meetings that are very much like the ones that the GOP likes to take part in, wearing everyone else down until only the True Believers are left and then passing bad laws/ordinances/resolutions.

  2. Matt___B says:

    Wasn’t it Sean Spicer who promoted the “biggest crowd ever” trope only days after Trump’s inauguration in January 2017? Or did Sarah take up that cause and keep promoting the inauguration crowd size thing after Sean quit and she took over? She told so many lies during her tenure, they blended into one another for me but I don’t specifically remember her defending that lost cause…

  3. swmarks53 says:

    I just went to read William Blake’s “The Four Zoas” and realized that verse 12 above is the epigraph to his epic. Clearly, Sanders does not read the Bible in the “infernal sense” as Blake describes in “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.”

    “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians, 6:12, King James version)

    • Upisdown says:

      I wonder what the Huckabee family Bible says about killing stray dogs at Boy Scout camp, or defending major pedophiles who happen to be famous supporters. I know my family Bible frowns on those things.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      She uses the opportune. Original and accurate aren’t relevant requirements for her false populism.

  4. BruceF says:

    In response to Huckabee-Sander’s Little Rock Central nonsense…racism is not over as many more affluent white students have abandoned the public schools for primarily white (they take a few black athletes) private schools and church sponsored academies. Why should well to do white folks be required to provide an adequate publically funded education to all those “other” people’s children? Particularly in states like Arkansas, public education is a wreck! Another victim of privatization!

  5. rattlemullet says:

    Spot on! I say the speech was constructed in the format of Dick and Jane, a fifties children’s book. A good dose of religious mythology poorly synthesized into garble, Q style false patriotism and laced through with stories of her simpleminded self. Never a better example of an individual gaining all through nepotism. The speech was written at the level of a 3rd grader.

  6. Frank Anon says:

    I wonder if Gov. Sanders experience at Central was affected by the fact that she was living in the nearby Governors Mansion for the duration of her high school experience?

  7. Datnotdat says:

    When you first quote Sanders, you comment It’s not quite Trumpian. You’re right Ed, to be Trumpian the soldier would have had to call her “Sir.”

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Yes, as a few comments have pointed out, Sanders owes her entire career to nepotism. Something she left out of her speech.

    I’m still trying to figure out whose false flag she means. Democrats use the American flag. Republicans seems to use one that inserts blue and black for red and white, and one that replaces the stars with dollar signs.

      • Just Some Guy says:

        Could also be a BLM flag, of the kind Enrique Tarrio and his pals like to burn (but keep that evidence out of their trial please!).

  9. Tom-1812 says:

    I have to admit I felt a bit of a pang of sympathy for the Governor when she described receiving her diagnosis of thyroid cancer some months ago, especially with her being the mother of three young children. I’m pretty sure I could see the semi-circular scar on her throat from the operation as she spoke. At the same time, I couldn’t help but wonder whether Sarah intended to have this evidence of her surgery on display as a form of bravado, the way John Wayne declared, “I licked the Big C” after his own bout with lung cancer in 1964.

    Going farther out on a limb, I also wondered whether Sarah was displaying the mark of her incision as some form of stigmata, as if she were literally a battle-scarred veteran of the Culture Wars. In any case, as for her speech, “That was some weird shit,” as George W. Bush might have said.

    • lika2know says:

      Sander’s thyroid cancer is the second most survivable cancer, and she had the least advanced/aggressive form. 95+% survival rate. [I had a higher stage version of that cancer 4 decades ago.]

      It’s not nothing, for sure, but she’s hardly some sort of cancer warrior: there’s no chemo required, and the iodine radiation doesn’t have the side effects people think of.

  10. Eborg says:

    Am I wrong in thinking that the bit about her dad and Clinton and the high school is information that would fall under CRT, and could not be taught in the same high school under her rules?

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. You’ve previously published comments as “EdwardB” which is still short of the minimum. Once you choose a new username, make sure to use the same one each time you comment. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • Spencer Dawkins says:

      “except we can’t teach CRT because it says that racism is not over” – I actually came here to ask what the difference between her SOTU response and CRT is.

      Just watching her spin-cycle her way through explaining that, would be entertainment at its finest.

  11. Jenny says:

    “People are just looking for honesty and authenticity more than anything.” Sarah Huckabee Sanders

    “Slip of the tongue” Sanders. In May 2017 at a live press briefing she claimed, “we’ve heard from countless members of the FBI” that FBI members lost confidence in FBI director Comey. When questioned, she told the special counsel’s office it was “a slip of the tongue.”

    • Greg Hunter says:

      The name suits the comment. They want no one to have fun, be human or care about you in this life because it will be better for them in the next life. I grew up with this crap but had a great public education that saved me from it.

      Its a death cult….and a clear contrast to the critically acclaimed Joe Biden SOTU.

      However every solution from Joe Biden was half measures which will not counter any potential hiccup between now and the election.

      Joe Biden has the potential to sell a truthful story to the American public, but so far he has not.

      35.00 for Insulin after what BigPharma has done to America.

      Prohibition taught US that banning something does not work and yet America banned naturally occurring plants.

      He and Mitch were around when US chips were farmed out.

      The prime way for anyone to make it out of poverty is equal and equitable k-12 education and the way you do that is double starting teachers salaries and having high standards. Invest early and you will not have to bail out later.

      MLK Jr. was correct about the white liberals.

  12. Klaatu Something says:

    when Steve Bannon attacked Sanders as “not intellectually capable”, I would normally define that as misogyny but in this case he is correct

    comment #981352

  13. Savage Librarian says:

    Just two questions:
    1. How was Huckabee Sanders chosen to give the response?
    2. Why did she think it was a good idea to wear her bathrobe?

  14. Sagansawyer says:

    I don’t know why I find it odd that she and Jared Kushner both diagnosed with thyroid cancer and both had the surgery to remove part of thyroid.

    • lika2know says:

      Thyroid cancer diagnosis has been on the rise, the best guess being that there are so many more chances that something like a digital chest x-ray can show tumors smaller and not detectible by normal means (such as palpation). [I’m a thyroid cancer survivor of 4 decades.]

      BTW, autoposies of elderly show that not only do most men have prostate cancer, most women have thyroid cancer, but both are so slow growing, they aren’t even impactful at end of life.

  15. e.a. foster says:

    Watched Biden but not Huckabee. Life is too short to listen to her lies. She’s also borrrrrring.
    The “story–lies” she told about the meeting the solider, OMG, that was for her base and no one else. Reminds me of those people on t.v. who peddle their version of Christianity with all their stories–lies.

    Can’t figure out why the republicans chose her. Perhaps it was a test run to see if she will gain any traction so she can run for President or V.P. I can see it now, her and Desantos.

    The thing which has bothered me since I was a kid was if they were so christian why did they not help other people. By the time I was 9 or 10 decided it was all made up somewhere and became an atheist. I’ve never seen Huckabee do much about the lack of funding for public schools, housing, or health care for even children.

    • Artemesia says:

      Yeah. I am a self taught atheist raised in a Baptist church in the 50s and the contrast between ‘Jesus loves the little children of the world, black or yellow, red or white, they are previous in his sight’ and the world I lived in was obvious to me at 5. Also noticed that the children of color in the Jesus pictures with children were always wearing native costumes of other countries ie. ‘staying in their place.’ So much was so obvious to me as a child that my faith had burned through by about age 10 — my parents were oblivious to this. I don’t understand why more kids in this Bible thumbing families don’t come to these same conclusions.

  16. Knowatall says:

    This was a dystopic fever dream, written in the style of a jilted high-schooler writing their first “novella”. If you listen to Washington Journal (once will do), you’ll hear the hideous heartland harpies bemoaning the same things, verbatim, with no factual basis, and a constant statement “everyone knows it”.

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