Their differences center on hair and cultural background. Otherwise Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump amount to the same prospective Republican presidential candidate.
A media celebrity first and always, tacky, conspicuously consuming, shamelessly self-promotional, glibly superficial on the issues, given to reckless demagoguery against Barack Obama — I wonder, is that Huckabee or Trump we're talking about?
One comes from the Southern Baptist pulpits of Arkansas and the other comes from the real estate glitz of New York City. They meet and begin to morph in the wasteland that is the glow of the modern American political spotlight, virtually indistinguishable at times from the show-business spotlight.
One of these fellows goes on television to say "you're fired" and the other goes on TV to hoist a bass guitar and perform country-rock covers.
One hangs out with Gary Busey and the other with Chuck Norris.
One lives in new-money extravagance in the Big Apple while the other builds with newer money still a garish, hotel-looking monstrosity on the sands of the Redneck Riviera.
One golfs and one hunts. On has a volatile marital history and the other a volatile waistline history.
Both gab hyperactively and adroitly. Both are hucksters.
One says we are entitled to question Obama's natural-born American citizenship because we have not seen his birth certificate. The other says Obama is different from normal Americans because he grew up in Kenya exposed to madrassas instead of Rotary Clubs.
It's all false and utter nonsense, of course, as if that mattered in this new political world where this thing we will call a Huckatrump could get seriously considered as a presidential candidate.
Neither of these men will take as much offense as he ought to take for being compared to the other. They met for lunch several days ago. Huckabee got quoted as saying he could envision himself on a Republican ticket with Trump.
A more serious Republican, prominent and accomplished, was telling me that he leaned toward former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty as his presidential candidate. It was because, he said, he knew less about Pawlenty than he knew about the rest — Huckatrump, Gingrich, Palin, Bachmann, Paul, Barbour and that uncommonly pliable composite of woodenness and plastic, which is to say Mitt Romney.
How might Obama get re-elected? By the preceding paragraph, of course.
For the moment, though, Trump and Huckabee adorn the top of Republican presidential polls. Put their showings together and you will see that four in 10 Republican primary supporters support the Huckatrump.
Most likely there is yet one more likeness in these two men. It is that both engage in self-promotion and will not actually pull the trigger to seek the real job of the presidency, owing to their addiction to the easier money and faux glory of media celebrity.
The discerning among us can hope so anyway, because it is not at all out of the question that Huckatrump is a thing for our time.