by Max Brantley
I have been occupied by a funeral and the $%#@ Christmas tree, so I thank readers for a variety of worthy suggestions for political junkies on a slow Saturday.
Bill Clinton went on Charlie Rose last night and used much of the time to dis Obama big-time. He said he's not ready for prime political time. Even if there's some basis to say that, it was a bad idea. (Obama promptly decried "slash and burn" politics.) This just isn't the year for negative, particularly from the Clintons. Hillary has enough troubles without a Teresa Heinz Kerry for a spouse. TPM has a video clip from the show.
Politico tallies the number of people who got state appointments after giving Huckabee gifts. This practice is old news here, but numbers will be interesting to some elsewhere. Huckabee's personal attorney Kevin Crass is doing defense on ethical issues now. I heard from a New Hampshire NPR reporter yesterday that Huckabee had declined questions from him, too, referring them instead to Crass. Kevin will have a busy winter, sounds like. He tells Politico that it's just a Southern custom to give gifts. It is a custom that hasn't been replicated by other Arkansas officials, however. He said, of course, there was no quid pro quo. Some new details on bass boat gifts:
Ronald Pierce (pictured with his wife Jan) is one of Huckabee’s longtime fishing buddies and the owner of a bass boat manufacturer. From 1997 to 2000, Pierce loaned Huckabee a pair of boats that today would retail for about $40,000 each. He also gave Huckabee and his wife, Janet, jackets and rain suits.
Huckabee named one of the loaner boats “State Business” because, he once joshed, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, it allowed his secretary to tell callers “He’s out on State Business” when he was on fishing trips.
After Huckabee’s gifts drew some bad press, Huckabee became concerned that “it would kind of look bad” if Pierce loaned him a new boat, Pierce told Politico. So Pierce’s company pulled its loaners and sold the governor a new boat — albeit at a reduced price usually reserved for professional fishermen whose patronage is good marketing. “The governor driving your boat on the lake is going to help you,” Pierce explained.
Huckabee last year tapped Pierce for a seat on the Game and Fish Commission and this year Pierce and his wife gave $4,600 to Huckabee’s presidential campaign. Pierce said he accepted the appointment reluctantly, and that it wasn’t linked to the gifts. His campaign contribution is based on his long friendship and support for Huckabee, he said.
Also today, Huckabee's criticism of Bush foreign policy achieves big play in the NY Times.
The clip below catches Huckabee in a flip-flop on abortion.