Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Don't Sleep on the Huckster
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has managed to extend her 15 minutes of fame. Barely known 15 months ago, she's become the "It" girl of the right in the interim. One week from today, her "Going Rogue" book will be released. Her book promotion tour will include stop with both Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters.
In the recent election, she lined up with conservatives supporting Doug Hoffman in the NY-23 congressional race. Her decision influenced Tim Pawlenty to follow suit. Naturally, that book tour will take her to Iowa, the state where all presidential campaigns are launched.
This week, however, one of her potential rivals for the 2012 presidential nomination piped up to carve some media attention himself. That would be one Michael Huckabee, sounding mildly annoyed at all the focus on the lady from the frozen north, whom Politico calls the GOP's "rock star":
“Some of the people who had excoriated me and really been very dismissive of me for views that I had taken, and labeled me anything from a populist to an ignoramus — the same people have been very defensive [of] and laudatory to Sarah Palin,” Huckabee noted, adding that he’d invited her to appear on his weekly Fox show but “could never get any contact.”
“I’m glad she’s getting the props — I know I’m not nearly as attractive,” he said with a guileless grin.
Ironically, Huckabee is the real rock star -- well, actual musician that is. He's one of the few politicians -- and the only one mentioned in the presidential sweepstakes -- who plays in two bands. His original group is Capitol Offense. Meanwhile, the ad hoc group of Fox staffers that make up the house band of his weekend Fox show are the Little Rockers. In both, he gets to show off his bass guitar-playing chops.
Huckabee buttresses his musical talent with a folksy sense of humor that takes the edge of what might otherwise be an intimidating Baptist preacher -- which he happens to be. This odd mixture of talents -- folksy, musically talented, Chuck Norris pal -- produced in 2008, a Huckabee who managed to become attractive to a mainstream media that usually greets hard-core socially conservative candidates with suspicion or outright hostility.
In fact, Huckabee harshest criticism arguably came from the professional conservative movement who found his views on economics unorthodox -- from the right's perspective -- and record as Arkansas governor as insufficiently conservative. That said, Huckabee still stands out as the most experienced chief executive in the race.
As fallout from the Whitewater investigation, Huckabee's predecessor as governor went to prison. Huckabee finished Tucker's term and then won two in his own right. Consequently, he was governor for 10 1/2 years. For those keeping track, that's more than Mitt Romney (one four-year term in Massachusetts) and Sarah Palin (two-and-a-half years in one abortive term in Alaska) combined.
So, given all that, shouldn't Mike Huckabee be getting a bit more love from the Republican faithful?
Indeed, ridiculously early in the 2012 race as it is, shouldn't he be taken a bit more seriously than just about anyone in the "mentioned" GOP field?