Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Mike Huckabee May Have Finally Gone Too Far

I have to admit that former Arkansas Governor Huckabee raised the hackles on the back of my neck the first time I saw him speak. As a former resident of Massachusetts during the Dukakis-Kerry administration, I know what it's like to live under someone in power who is so arrogant he thinks he knows better than you how you should live your life - and intends to do something about it.

I have always feared this type of person from the left, but I instinctively know that when they appear from the right, they are far more dangerous. Governor Huckabee is an ignorant demagogue driven by his view of Christian dogma (don't howl, I am a Christian too) who obviously intends to apply his reading of the Bible to government. So far, he has done very well because he is an excellent speaker with a sharp wit who comes across as the only honest politician willing to state clear views on a variety of subjects. Hopefully his record as governor, his simplistic and ignorant views on critical issues and the mean streak in his character will become evident to voters before too much harm is done.

ON DEADLINE: Did Huckabee go too far?
By RON FOURNIER, Associated Press, Dec 31, 2007

Mike Huckabee may have finally gone too far.

After running an unconventional, surprisingly strong and sometimes strange race to the top tier of the Republican presidential campaign, the former Arkansas governor topped himself Monday with a campaign stunt that smacked of hypocrisy.

He called a news conference to unveil a negative ad that he had just withdrawn from Iowa television stations because, he told a room full of journalists recording the ad, he had a sudden aversion to negative politics. Quite a convenient epiphany.

"If people want to be cynical about it," Huckabee said, "they can be cynical about it."

If he loses Iowa's caucuses, New Year's Eve will forever mark the day Huckabee blew it — the day a crowd stopped laughing with the witty Republican and laughed at him.

If he wins — a possibility that even Huckabee now thinks he put at risk — he sealed victory in a weird way Monday.

Here's what happened:
Huckabee came out of nowhere a few weeks ago to overtake former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in Iowa polls, despite being massively outspent and out-organized.

Romney answered back with television ads criticizing Huckabee's record in Arkansas.

While guilty of cherry-picking the worst aspects of Huckabee's resume, the negative ads stuck with the facts. For example, Huckabee did grant 1,033 pardons and commutations, including for 12 convicted murderers, as Romney's ad stated.

Huckabee's lead evaporated, which suggests that the ads worked or that a series of gaffes had caught up to him.

Or both.
So he did what desperate candidates do. Huckabee took himself off the campaign trail Sunday to shoot a negative ad. He bought $30,000 in television time to air the spot and called a news conference to unveil it.

While awaiting the late-arriving Huckabee, more than 50 reporters and a dozen photographers got to read five huge cards placed on easels by Huckabee's staff — all highly critical of Romney's record as governor.

"Enough is enough," the signs said.

When Huckabee arrived, he announced that he had just changed his mind. The ad wouldn't run. It was too negative.

"I believe the people of Iowa deserve better, and we are going to try and give them better ...," he said.

But he didn't. Instead, Huckabee showed off the spot to the journalists, knowing full well his negative message would seep out of the room. He told the media to pay close attention.

"You're not going to get a copy of it," he warned, "so this is your chance to see it, then after that you'll never see it again."

The media laughed.

One of the funniest, most charming presidential candidate in recent memory, Huckabee normally makes reporters and voters laugh at his one-liners. On Monday, he made himself the butt of his own joke, urging journalists to take careful note of the negative ad that he had withdrawn because he wanted to run a positive campaign.

"It's never too late to do the right thing," he said.

The ad criticizes Romney's record as governor, fairly so, but goes on to question his character. "If a man is dishonest to obtain a job," Huckabee says in the ad, "he'll be dishonest on the job."

Funny that Huckabee decided at noon that line was too negative, because he used it six hours earlier during a national TV interview.

He used it on a Sunday news show, too.

And he didn't disavow the line Monday. "I said what I said. I spoke the truth," Huckabee said.

If he loses Thursday, Huckabee said, "I'll be the last guy to do this. But I want to be the first who will at least try."

Iowans have a reputation for punishing politicians who go negative. The question is whether voters, particularly evangelicals who make up his political base, will believe Huckabee had the political equivalent of a deathbed conversion.

Or will they think he's treating them likes rubes — appealing to their sense of fair play while being foul?

Either way, the bizarre news conference was the latest twist in a campaign that has given new meaning to the word paradox. Huckabee is an immensely talented communicator and successful former governor who is nonetheless a flawed candidate.

• He is mistake prone, particularly when it comes to commenting about foreign policy.

• He can be thin-skinned and rash. Two of his advisers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said privately Monday that the production of the ad was fueled by Huckabee's white-hot anger with Romney, and that his change of mind was jarring to the campaign staff.

• He has a paltry political organization in a state that values the ground game, according to an informal survey of GOP county chairs and co-chairs. "I haven't seen much of a sign of him or his people," said Jim Conklin, chairman of the Linn County GOP.

He can also be disarmingly honest. Asked whether Romney should stop running negative ads, Huckabee said, "I'm not going to try to run his campaign."

"I'm having enough trouble running mine."


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At 7:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm slowly changing my mind about Mike. I too thought that his latest move was very disingenuous on his part. As much as I don't care for Mitt Romney, his record is pretty good in Massachusetts compared to Mike's record in Arkansas. I like Fred Thompson, but he doesn't seem to have the same surge in his campaign as Mitt,Mike, and Rudy. Speaking of Surge;


This word has been cut from the English language for 2008.

So, I'd like to wish everyone:
A surge of happiness,
A surge of prosperity,
A surge of new friends,
A surge in their relationship with God,
A surge of good health,
A surge of learning,
A surge of peace everywhere,

I'd also like to thank our brave men and women serving in the armed services, for protecting our God given rights to be free, and last but not least, I'd like to thank General David Petraeus for coming up with a final solution to ending the Iraq War.

The Surge is working in Iraq!!!!!

At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comments/complaints/criticisms about Mike Huckabee confirm what I have said/thought for many years. That anyone running for President must by slightly if not completely crazy. No matter who it is, their life/character, their whole being, is raked through the mud. I dare say, if Jesus himself were running, people would be throwing insults and making derogatory remarks.

Why would/should anyone with any self esteem run for this office? Maybe that's one reason the best of our citizens choose not to run, leaving the contest to pimps, whores, and other low lifes.

At 2:15 PM, Blogger RussWilcox said...

Sc by Choice, by implication you have insulted a lot of good men - men like Eisenhower, Bush, Roosevelt, Reagan and many, many others. Huckabee is who Huckabee is.


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