Columns » John Brummett

Don't do it, the Lord tells Huckabee

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The only news from Mike Huckabee's predictably vintage political stunt Saturday night is that, for reasons undisclosed, the Good Lord did not want the Huckster to seek the presidency. 

To that we perhaps ought to say: Thank you, God. 

You might have missed it, if you are possessed of a life.  

The Huckster has this dead-time Saturday night cable show on Republican TV, aka Fox, on which he interviews uninteresting people, spouts superficially simplistic conservative platitudes and plays bass guitar, usually with a cover band of Fox employees only mildly more talented musically than he. 

As we have established in this space, and as confirmed time and again by Huckabee's behavior, he is a media man mainly, a pop culture slave, and not a serious political or preaching man. As such, he put out the word that he was going to announce on this show whether he would seek the Republican presidential nomination.   

But then everyone pretty much assumed he would be declining such an endeavor, since it probably would be against the law or at least a problem for Fox if it allowed a guy to announce his presidential candidacy that way. So, in search of ratings, Huckabee distributed a mass decoy e-mail  — also known among lay persons as a fib — indicating that his life was going to change dramatically upon his imminent announcement. 

Then, to keep people tuned to the entire show, Huckabee saved his political announcement to the end. Along the way he played bass for a performance of "Catch Scratch Fever" with Ted Nugent, gun-worshipping conservative rocker. 

It's a poignant song, ideal as a presidential candidate's theme, going like this: "I got it from some kitty next door. I went to see the doctor and he gave me the cure. I think I got it some more." 

The cat, the fever, the scratch — these perhaps are powerful metaphors, and that's all I'm going to say about that. 

Anyway, Huckabee announced at last that he would not run for president, of course. Then he unveiled a tribute from his partner in the prevailing show-biz trivializing of contemporary American politics — the other half of the Huckatrump monster, Donald Trump — who, as it turned out, had recorded two tributes, one in case Huckabee actually was running. 

The statement was classic Huckabee. 

Our Boy Mike displayed the chip on his shoulder, complaining that he never got any respect though he was ahead in the polls. 

He deployed the usual self-obsessed hyperbole, even supposed martyrdom, saying that his family, more than any other major political family, presumably, would be subjected to "brutal" and "savage" attacks, though it would be hard to savage someone and not be brutal about it, and vice versa. 

Basically Huckabee said he had every good reason to run and very likely would become our president if he ran, but that, in the end, he made a spiritual decision, not a political or economic or practical one. When he got away from adoring crowds and meditated alone, he said, he could not become confident of the Lord's blessing. 

This represents the rhetorical advantage of a man trained professionally to talk as if religious. He can assert a more direct and clear communication with the Almighty than some of us dare presume to achieve. He can, if he chooses, cloak earthly motivations in divine inspiration.

Huckabee can say the decision was spiritually directed by the Lord, and not political or economic, when, in fact, the Lord, for all we know, could well have said to him, altogether spiritually, that, if he had any sense, he'd take the money and spare the country. 

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