FishbowlDC Interview with TWT’s Marybeth Hicks

Say hello to TWT Columnist Marybeth Hicks. Metaphorically, you can find her at the intersection of politics and parenting. Literally, you can find her on the opinion page and in book stores.

Hicks lives in East Lansing, Mich., and is the author of three books, most recently “Don’t Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid: Confronting the Left’s Assault on Our Families, Faith and Freedom.” She also pens a weekly column which she started in 2004 focusing on politics and culture and their impact on the American family.

Before writing for TWT, Hicks, a graduate of Michigan State University, worked as a writer in the Reagan White House and in corporate communications. But family life reeled her in. She wanted to work from  home “among the four most important machines in a woman’s life… a laptop, a slow cooker, a washer and a dryer.”

She compares the process of writing her latest book to popping out a baby. “It took about nine months, was painful especially at the end, and a few weeks after it comes out, you stop staring at it all the time and start wishing you could sleep through the night,” she told FBDC. The research put her in uncharted territory, she said, leading her to read up on things like “heteronormativity in Disney movies.” (Google it. We did.)

Hicks is a mother of four. Her daughter Kate Hicks is an editor at

If you were a combined carbonated beverage, which would you be? A gin and tonic. And never diet tonic. That stuff is disgusting. Extra lime.

How often do you Google yourself? Hardly ever anymore. Early on I used to check to see if my column was getting any traction, but stopped once my daughters were looking over my shoulder and I discovered my name had been trolled and put on a porn site. Cost me hundreds to get it removed! These days it sends me to radical leftist blogs where I’m routinely called an idiot. Tell me something I don’t know.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)? Very early in my career, I was reminded by a boss not to have too much fun at work. In retrospect, that was clearly a nice way of telling me to quiet down. At the time I was confused.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? Probably Peggy Noonan. I don’t always agree with her. She was pretty gaga over Obama early on, which annoyed me. But that woman could write about sawdust and her sentences would be lovely and lyrical and use alliteration. Her prose rolled through thoughts like a cloud of literary perfection. It would only be a sawdust essay, but it would be a thing of beauty and I would be jealous. As usual.

Do you have a favorite word? Finished. As in, “I am finished with yet another column. Time for a gin and tonic.” Deadlines haunt me.

Who would you rather have dinner with – Salon’s Joan Walsh, WaPo‘s Kathleen Parker or NYT‘s Maureen Dowd. Tell us why. Really? You’re going to make me look like a mean girl in the Fishbowl interview? Because the honest answer is Jonah Goldberg. But if I must, Kathleen Parker, so I can tell her how much I loved her old stuff, back when she was a conservative, and ask if it was a bigger sellout to endorse President Obama or co-host with [Eliot] Spitzer. See, that just makes me seem mean and I’m not.

What’s your funniest TV blooper moment (or radio or print interview moment)? Well, while promoting Kool-Aid, [ex-Human Events journo] Jason Mattera told me during a radio interview that he wished I was his mom. Then he implied that for a mom, I was hot. That was awkward. I changed the subject.

What swear word do you use most often? You’re trying to ruin my Catholic mom image, aren’t you? Okay, well, it depends. The “s” word when I drop or break things; stronger language as the situation warrants. But I’m Irish, so once I vent, it’s over and we’re having a beer.

Read about Hicks’ edamame problem after the jump…

Now for a really serious moment: What is your dream job, money and practicalities aside? My dream job is a Monday-Friday afternoon drive time radio show – not straight politics; more balanced than that, which would be smart, funny, informative, engaging. Basically, Dennis Miller without the high-end vocabulary and more chick content. If anyone knows of a station in need of a host…

When you pig out what do you eat? I have a serious edamame problem. Or original Lays potato chips with French onion dip and a Diet Coke. Or the spinach dip from my Kroger with pita chips. Or nachos.

What is your absolute favorite item of clothing in your closet? We want the fabric, the brand, the store and the price if possible. If it’s a certain kind of underwear we don’t want to know about it. Well, that’s a relief! I have this dress from Ann Taylor. Not expensive or fancy, just the most comfortable, flattering piece of clothing I have ever purchased. Very forgiving, if you know what I mean. I could wear this thing to fold laundry, it’s that comfortable.

Pick one: Kim, Khloe, or Kourtney? Kris. Humphries, that is. He’s lucky to get away from those people before it’s too late. And does it not strike us all that we live in a moral and cultural abyss that you can ask a question like this, and not one person in America does not know who you’re talking about?

Have you ever had a tarot card reading? No. The Catholic guilt would overtake me. Also, I don’t want to know.

Have you ever had a near-death experience? Once in high school, I told my parents I was going to the store and my dad saw me driving around town. He followed me to my boyfriend’s house, where I hung out for over an hour. When I walked in the door, my father asked where I’d been and I lied and said I’d been shopping. So that was a near death thing. But no, not an actual, almost-called-the-coroner event, thank the Lord.

Ever been arrested? No!

Tell us a secret not many people know about you. I’ve had to take the solitaire app off my phone because I get a little obsessive.

What scares you? Death. Not being dead, as I’m counting on Jesus to make things cool for eternity. But the actual dying part. Also, taking off and landing when flying. But those two fears are related.

What’s your most embarrassing career moment? The time I had to confess to an audience of 1,000 people in the middle of my keynote speech that I really had to leave to run to the bathroom but promised to be right back. I was talking to a convention of homeschoolers. So I dash out to the ladies room and about a dozen pregnant moms run behind me saying, “Thank you so much! We really had to go!” I was back in a flash but never really recovered. Several months later a woman came up to me at another event and said, “I saw you speak in Minneapolis, that was the best talk I ever heard.” But she was holding a newborn, so I’m thinking she remembers me fondly for all the wrong reasons.

Have you ever been fired? No, and now I’m self-employed, so my job security is better than ever.

When and why did you last laugh so hard you had tears in your eyes? Two weeks ago in a fitting room with my daughter Betsy. The tears were rolling down my face and my stomach hurt from laughing. Women readers will understand.

When and why did you last lose your temper? I have teenagers. Who the hell knows? (Caveat: in parenting, I yell loudest when it matters least.)

Who would you want to play you in a movie? Sandra Bullock. When I saw “The Blind Side,” my son leaned over to me at the start of the movie and said, “Mom. It’s you.” I cried, but not so he could see me. I was just so happy…

Do you have a me-wall? If so, who’s on it? Nah, the only things hanging in my home office are my MSU diploma, a framed copy of my first Washington Times column entitled, “Nobody warned me about driver’s ed” (about being terrorized by Kate behind the wheel of a car), and the certificate I got when I was appointed by the governor, John Engler, to the Michigan Children’s Trust Fund board. It’s only there because if I take it down there’s a spot on the wall where the paint is darker than the rest of the room. I quit after one term because I concluded that the whole board should be abolished for wasting public funds. The only photos are of my kids.

Who should just call it a day? Oprah. I mean, she’s had an amazing career and done incredible things. She got people to read books for heaven’s sake. They were mostly depressing or new-agey, but still. She’s been a powerful presence in media and culture for all of my adult life. But she jumped the shark when she got political because she couldn’t resist the allure of being in the inner “O” circle. When she did that, she walked away from a lot of people who were willing to overlook her liberalism because she was Oprah, the cultural icon. Now she’s just Oprah, the aging talk show host/failing TV channel/heavily retouched magazine photo. Which only proves the wisdom of that adage my mom always quoted, “Leave ‘em laughing and wanting more.”

From TMZ Founder Harvey Levin: You are about to be served your last meal. What will it be? For the starter, lobster bisque. Then a grilled radicchio salad with walnuts, blue cheese, and Robb Ross red wine/vinegar dressing. Then a mushroom risotto. Soft-shell crabs (sautéed, not deep fried), grilled zucchini, the sour dough bread from Zingerman’s Bakery (the only good thing to come out of Ann Arbor). Finally, one, perfect, fudgy [sic], chocolate brownie (frosted, of course) with fresh strawberries, sour cream and brown sugar on the side. Appropriate wines all around. (I should not be answering these questions while hungry.)

Finally, please come up for a question for our next FishbowlDC interviewee. This one may live on indefinitely. Make it good. What is the one thing your parents did or said that you swore you would never do or say, but sure enough…?

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