Columns » John Brummett

Huckabee behaving like a money-chasing celebrity


Mike Huckabee continues to behave more as a man who wants to make money and revel in his own celebrity and glibness than as a serious candidate for president.

He purposely barreled into political headlines over the last few days, but all we we can say for sure about his motivation is that he has yet another book out and was trying sell copies. 

He remains for now a media performer first, a politician second and a preacher last.

He ran for president in 2008 to get a talk show on Fox. Now that he has landed the show, he no longer needs to bother wintering in Iowa. But there still is smart cross-pollination to be done. Getting speculated about as a presidential candidate again might bolster the show.

Thus Huckabee poses personally the same question that Fox poses institutionally: Is it media or is it politics or is there any difference?

If Huckabee was seriously running for president, he would need to demonstrate a burning passion similar to that which is palpable in, say, Mitt Romney. But what Huckabee has displayed lately is passive acquiescence.

He said in one of his myriad public pronouncements last week that, because of his profile and poll standing, he could afford to keep making money in the private sector while he waited to assess the Republican field that develops ahead of his decision. 

That is fire in his belly, all right . . . for money in the form of personal income, not for the campaign money he would do well to be raising already if he intended to do battle with, say, the wealthy and self-funding Romney.

If Huckabee was seriously running for president, he should not have given Romney a pass Sunday on Fox for sponsoring a kind of health care reform as governor of Massachusetts that was essentially the same as the national health care program of President Obama. 

Huckabee explained to Chris Wallace that states are laboratories for such experimentation and that Romney should not be faulted for trying something at the state level that all good conservatives now know will prove a disaster at the federal level.

A real candidate would have taken the easy and straight shot at his strongest competition. He would have declared that Republicans should not be asked to go to war against dreaded Obamacare under the leadership of a man who had embraced something tantamount to it. 

Huckabee has always seemed more enamored of his ability to gab his way through an issue than committed to serious contemplation of that issue. He is smart enough, but talent is easier. 

For that reason, he often gets credited with being independent in his thinking when, actually, he simply has not done much homework and is relying instead on his pants-seated ability to talk. 

He usually falls back on an overheated metaphor or an extreme superficiality. He also usually manages to carve out territory for himself on the moral high ground, or at least at a moral elevation equivalent to that of the garden-variety pulpit.

You can go on YouTube and find a clip of Huckabee in 2007 supporting cap-and trade. It must have sounded righteous to him at the time. He says now he never said it. It is indeed possible that he does not remember saying it, considering that he never gave much thought to it when he said it.

He once said that persons trying to deny services to illegal immigrants were drinking a "different Jesus juice" from his. Now columnist Gail Collins of The New York Times catches Huckabee in this new book decrying the very tolerance of illegal immigrants that he had previously advocated.

Huckabee knows where he belongs and thrives. It is in the studio, at the banquet dais and cozy in the celebrity host's complimentary cabin on a cruise ship. It is not the Oval Office.

The only thing that would make this wrong is if Huckabee honestly believes that he is another Ronald Reagan. It is possible that he convinced himself of that doing that eerily spot-on impersonation of Reagan in his after-dinner speech.

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