Digby writes about Mike Huckabee at Salon and tells us that "it's a mistake to count him out," in part because "Nobody else in the Republican game today has his particular combination of political gifts. Why they're almost, dare I say it, Reaganesque."
I don't know if she's saying that Huckabee could win just the GOP nomination (which seems like an extremely long shot) or could actually be elected president. If it's the latter, I think she's allowing her gloom about America's susceptibility to right-wing mountebanks to cloud her judgment. I generally share that gloom, but there are limits to America's fondness for this sort of thing.
Huckabee is an agressive defender of Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, a guy who was resoundingly rejected in a race his party was favored to win. Huckabee says "we will feel the hands of [God's] judgment" if we don't reverse rulings and laws permitting gay marriage -- recall that the wife of the last Republican nominee for president said her favorite TV show was Modern Family. Huckabee hangs out with Ted Nugent -- you know, the guy who waved a semiautomatic onstage a few years ago and said that Hillary Clinton "might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch" -- and the two engage in witty banter like this:
Mike Huckabee invited NRA board member Ted Nugent onto his radio show today where they kicked off the interview by discussing Nugent's "mystical, wonderful hunting dog" Gonzo.Digby actually quotes this Huckabee quip as evidence of Huckabee's potential appeal:
"Maybe we ought to turn him loose on some Democrats and see if he can hunt them too," Huckabee joked....
"Whether we need to send somebody to Mars, I don't know. But I'll tell you what, if we do, I've got a few suggestions, and maybe Hillary could be on the first rocket."Bang! Zoom!
Republicans may not have a realistic hope of winning over non-white voters (who might hear nasty echoes of slave days and immigration crackdowns in jokes about people being hunted down by dogs), and the GOP might not expect to do well among women who hear misogyny in that Hillary-bashing, but the party does hope to win over vaguely libertarian young people, and that's not going to happen with a guy who's made a crusade of injecting God into textbooks, or who's an unabashed creationist. Digby quotes this as a "bon mot" that's likely to win over voters: "If anybody wants to believe they're the descendants of a primate, they'e welcome to do it." Yeah, that'll rake in a lot of Silicon Valley cash for Huck, right?
A lot of Republicans -- Paul Ryan, Scott Walker -- do the Jesus thing just about as well as Huckabee without alienating suburbanites. Hell, Huckabee makes even some of the extremist wannabes look sophisticated. Compared to Huckabee, Ted Cruz comes off as a polysyllabic intellectual, and Rick Perry seems like a tech-friendly economic disrupter.
The crazies and God-botherers may hijack the GOP nominating process in 2016 in a way they didn't in 2008 and 2012, but if Huckabee is on track to win, I think the party and the donor base will pull out all the stops to prevent his victory. Remember that as governor he helped win the release of some criminals who went on to commit very violent crimes. In 2007, Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute reviewed his record as governor of Arkansas and called him "The Biggest Big-Government Conservative":
As governor of Arkansas, Huckabee dramatically increased state spending. During his two-term tenure, spending increased by more than 65 percent -- at three times the rate of inflation.That's all going to be brought up again if he's ever the front-runner. So forget it. He's not going to be the nominee, much less president.
The number of government workers increased by 20 percent, and the state's debt services increased by nearly $1 billion. Huckabee financed his spending binge with higher taxes. Under his leadership, the average Arkansan's tax burden increased 47 percent, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, including increases in the state's gas, sales, income, and cigarette taxes. He raised taxes on everything from groceries to nursing home beds.
... On net, Huckabee increased state taxes by more than $500 million. In fact, Huckabee increased taxes in the state by more than Bill Clinton did.