In many ways, Mike Huckabee is the Rodney Dangerfield of the 2016 election.Gosh, why would that be?
The former Arkansas governor won the Iowa caucus in 2008 and subsequently finished second to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in GOP delegates earned. In recent polls, Huckabee is holding his own against several big-name candidates who have already entered the race. And he certainly passes the “I’d like to have a beer with him” test -- despite being teetotal himself. But Huckabee isn’t getting much respect as a serious threat to win the nomination.
The path to the nomination will be difficult for the Huckabee. The 59-year-old won’t be able to raise the money that his best-funded GOP rivals will, and his fiscal record has been questioned by the influential Club for Growth.Oh yeah, that.
Yes, the Club for Growth hates Huckabee, as Dave Weigel notes, and the feeling is mutual:
Few rivalries in politics have lasted as long, or run as deep, as the one pitting Mike Huckabee against the Club for Growth. For 15 years, the anti-tax, anti-spending group has opposed Huckabee's candidates and Huckabee himself. The former Arkansas governor has called it the "Club for Greed," has accused it of weakening the party with an economic message that alienates less-rich Americans, has dived into races seemingly just to oppose its favorites.But gosh, you'd think that would inspire the mainstream media to champion Huckabee. He's a plucky underdog going after entrenched, moneyed interests! He's questioning hidebound political orthodoxy!
Nahhh. Weigel has posted a new ad the Club for Growth just put out opposing Huckabee. In the ad, big-media talking heads challenge Huckabee with Club for Growth-style talking points. The first one is Chris Wallace of Fox News, quoting Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform. But notice who the other three are:
That's Norah O'Donnell, then of NBC (primarily quoting The Wall Street Journal), followed by George Stephanopoulos (not citing a source, but clearly citing right-wing opposition research), followed by Tim Russert (quoting the Cato Institute). It's true that some mainstream media figures occasionally fret about right-wing absolutism on taxes -- but when faced with a guy who challenges (or used to challenge) GOP anti-tax orthodoxy, the mainstream media uses that absolutist rhetoric as a club against the challenger. Or at least that was the case when Huckabee first ran and the excerpted interviews took place.
Why? Because the anti-tax zealot groups are part of the insider system, which is the same system Stephanopoulos and O'Donnell and Wallace are a part of, and Russert used to be part of. The journalists were happy to take what these zealot groups spoon-fed to them and use it to bash Huckabee.
Huckabee has since capitulated to Norquist's group, Stanage tells us at The Hill:
... anti-tax activist Grover Norquist told The Hill he has no fundamental opposition to Huckabee.But the plutocrat-sphere and the rest of its think-tank defenders still despise Huckabee for his past apostasies. And the mainstream media was only too happy to carry the water of those zealots.
“Huckabee signed the pledge when he ran for president last time,” Norquist said, referring to the challenge issued by his group, Americans for Tax Reform, for candidates to promise not to raise taxes. “He’s a pledge-taker, and all pledge-takers are great guys,” a jocular Norquist added.