Forrest Gump was the name of a very successful 1994 film that earned $67 million. The movie begins with a feather falling to the feet of Forrest sitting at a bus stop in Savannah, Ga. He picks up the feather and puts it in the book “Curious George,” then tells the story of his life to a woman seated next to him. The listeners at the bus stop change regularly throughout his narration, and each shows a different attitude ranging from disbelief and indifference to rapt veneration.
Atavistically, Forrest was driven to run to avoid boyhood bullies.
In two ways Mike Huckabee is a character not unlike Forrest Gump: his compulsion to run and his effect on people. America's evangelicals love him — he's all they have left — while the rest of the world moves ahead scarcely noticing. Unlike a more pragmatic and unifying figure, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Huckabee refuses, or yet lacks the desire, to unite the Republican Party by throwing his delegates to front-runner John McCain. The Forrest Gump in Huckabee says, “Put your head to the wind and run, Huck, run.”
But no politician runs except in self-interest. Is it that Huck's name is already printed on late primary state ballots and each day he can remain — even as a nonviable candidate — gives him more prime spotlight time, more exposure to build a constituency for 2012?
Or is Huck still running to earn a place on John McCain's November ballot? He must know that the chances for that are not good, since Mac has now cast himself as a conservative and is probably scanning the horizon for a moderate or a liberal, not another conservative, to balance the ticket.
Author Jack Wakenfeld said of writer Joyce Cary what could well be said of Mike Huckabee. “All thinking … (of any writer) is of a piece, the aesthetics running into history, the history running into religion, the religion running into the symbol, the symbol into the nature of reality.”
What motivates Huckabee is his epistemology, his feelings that each man is forced by the nature of his being to create his own version of reality.
Huckabee has shouted to audiences so frequently about winning in November that he actually believes it. He is convinced that his value as a human being lies in his devotion to his quest for the American presidency. When he defeated McCain in Kansas he attributed his success to deity, calling it a miracle. Thereby, he becomes a miracle worker in a way so compelling, to himself at least, that no one can refuse him the prize, regardless of the reality of a majority of contrary voters.
What his reality ignores is the necessity for unifying a divided party. He now is not seen as a bridge builder — a man of peace, a reconciler, or a creator of what most Americans want — only what the evangelicals, one-forth of the people, want and therein he becomes their sacrificial lamb.
He is a lone figure who will create his own history in his own way. In this former Baptist minister there is no apotheosis. Huckabee appears far more like a priest performing a decree service than a prophet delivering a divine message.
Maybe it's his masochism. CNN ran a story “tracking the strain furious campaigning puts on the human body” for the presidential candidates. During the segment, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee joked that his campaign schedule is not providing enough time to sleep and that, for him, is “like being waterboarded.”
Dream on, Huck.
Erma Bombeck said, “It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.” He failed to show either courage or intelligence with that delusion.
Joke or no, this is precisely the kind of wild talk and fantasy a candidate for highest office should not indulge in. When Forrest Gump said life was like a box of chocolates, he made sense, adding, “you never know what you're going to get.” But America must not choose a president like it chooses chocolates and it should not choose a mindless dreamer.
This Arkansas dreamer has courage but lacks judgment and substance. Unless he can prove to the electorate that he is the man to solve America's manifold problems he should bridle his tongue and keep his dreams to himself.
Don White is a lawyer, former journalist and Mitt Romney supporter who lives in Windermere, Fla.