MIKE AND ME: The two faces of Mike Huckbee, as depicted in a couple of Washington Post columns today that are linked below, is a theme that happens to fit nicely with a new story in The New Republic ("The Bad Huck: The unhinged correspondence of Mike Huckabee") on the biting side of the former governor. It writes about the experience of the Arkansas press, beginning with me, with the not-so-nice governor. The article comes with copies of some scorching Huckabee correspondence from the happy golden days of yore. Writer Gabe Sherman catches the Huck in a little exaggeration about his high school journalism teacher. Accompanying commentary by Noam Scheiber on the power of Huckabee's candidacy and his campaign against the Wall Street-Washington power axis is well worth the read.
NICE AND NASTY: Robert Novak writes that Huckabee's support among Southern Baptists is not universal, naming names, and notes that this can irritate Mr. Nice Guy. He mentions an angry encounter with Judge Paul Pressler, an influential Baptist, in California and a more pleasant meeting in Texas recently.
The warmth in Texas and hostility in California reflects the dual personality of the pastor-politician who has broken out of the presidential campaign's second tier. Huckabee can come across as either a Reagan or a Nixon. More than personality explains why not all his Baptist brethren have signed on the dotted line for Huckabee. He did not join the "conservative resurgence" that successfully rebelled against liberals in the Southern Baptist Convention a generation ago.
George Will, too, notes the Huckster's duality in a column seeing this year's campaign as a 1970s TV show.
On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee's role in the '70s Show involves blending Jimmy Carter's ostentatious piety with Nixon's knack for oblique nastiness. "Despicable" and "appalling" evidence of a "gutter campaign" -- that is how the Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence, Mass., characterized this from Sunday's New York Times Magazine profile of Huckabee: " 'Don't Mormons,' he asked in an innocent voice, 'believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?' "
Imagine someone asking "in an innocent voice" this: "Don't Jews use the blood of gentile children to make matzoh for Passover?" Such a smarmy injection of the "blood libel," an ancient canard of anti-Semitism, into civic discourse would indelibly brand the injector as a bigot with contempt for the public's ability to decode bigotry.
Shazam, even David Broder gets a brief clue for a change.
...Huckabee was endorsed about that time by the head of the Minuteman Project, the folks who prowl the border looking for illegal immigrants. Huckabee had previously questioned their motives, but that was before the Minutemen found their way into his camp. Now, he could see they were swell fellas.
LESS FILLING: The Weekly Standard isn't impressed by Mike Huckabee's essay (bylined, for gravitas' sake, by Michael D. Huckabee) on foreign affairs.
The essay was a disaster for both Michael D. Huckabee and Mike Huckabee. Their bid to persuade America's most serious foreign policy analysts that Huckabee understands global affairs was equal parts embarrassing and unintentionally comic. In one part of the essay, Huckabee somberly intoned that "Sun-tzu's ancient wisdom is relevant today: 'Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.'" The only problem with citing this ancient piece of wisdom is that it comes not from Sun Tzu, but Michael Corleone. Unfortunately, the rest of Huckabee's essay was silent as to what America should do about Hyman Roth and his Sicilian message boy, Johnny Ola.
Another article catches Huck in attack mode -- with a smile, of course.
TOP 40: Brummett writes about candidate Huckabee as DJ, a changing format for whatever crowd he happens to be addressing at the moment.