Funny. The liberal national journalists have gone mushy on Mike Huckabee -- "a Republican liberals could love," I heard one say last night. (What's to love about an anti-gay, anti-abortion, pro-gun, anti-evolution, pro-Creationism, hypocritical religionist with a selfish vindictive side?) Clearer-eyed are some "lesser" writers, such as this blogger, quoting liberally from Rich Lowry of the National Review, who sees The Huckster mostly as an entertaining roadshow, though also a potential Giuliani veep choice.
National Review editor Rich Lowry has an important point about Mike Huckabee: what makes him interesting is not the possibility of his winning the nomination (those odds are virtually nil), but the nothing-to-lose, say-anything “joie de vivre” of his campaign. And as Lowry’s column reminds us, part of that freedom of movement has to do with the fact that Huckabee is emphatically not part of the paid-up GOP establishment.
Huckabee speaks so fluidly and so charmingly that the media tend to overlook the sheer ridiculousness of so much of what he’s actually saying. The funny thing is that this critique comes from the right as well as from the left. We notice his loopy ideas about flat taxes, “holocausts,” and the Founders, while conservatives like Lowry fixate on the populistishness of Huckabee’s economic message:
Huckabee shines in the verbal contests of the debates, and his wise-cracking, guitar-playing persona ingratiates him to journalists. But for all his eloquence, what Huckabee lacks, fundamentally, is a message. Unlike past long-shot crusaders like Buchanan and McCain, there is no new direction in which he wants to take the party. He has different mood music than his rivals — acknowledging middle-class anxieties and sounding nationalistic notes — but these are more rhetorical riffs than part of an integrated worldview.
There is a message, of course. You hear it repeatedly from former supporters who no longer are in his camp. "It's all about Mike."
ALSO: The Carpetbagger gets it, too.
BUT THEN: There's the fawning Chris Cilizza. "Huckabee is self-deprecating and genuinely funny; unlike many politicians he has almost no pretense about him - ask around in the political world and you'll always find a good story or two that reinforce the story line of Mike Huckabee: Good guy."