Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Thought on Huckabee

The following news bulletin just appeared on

Mike Huckabee, the former Republican governor from Arkansas who has his own Fox show, told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday" that a 2012 presidential bid is "less than likely" and depends on whether Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News, keeps liking his show.
"The reason I wouldn’t is that this Fox gig I’ve got is really wonderful, " he said, talking about whether or not he would get in the race given that he is a GOP front runner according to most recent polls. "Jumping into the pool, you gottta make sure there is some water in it."
Huckabee said that GOP leaders would be foolhardy to think that President Barack Obama is an easy mark in 2012, given the example of President Bill Clinton's easy re-election for a second term after a bruising midterm in 1994.
And Huckabee said that during his 2008 campaign, he never got the backing of the GOP establishment.
"The Republican Party needs to unite in 2012," he said.

There is a delicious (and politically telling) irony here: The very fact that Huckabee has made it seem like he isn't interested in running is the greatest possible indication that that is precisely what he intends to do. There are several reasons for this:

1) Presidential aspirants have historically made a point of disavowing any interest in their would-be prize this early in the game, if for no other reason than seeming overly-eager for it can turn off many potential supporters. This isn't to say that I doubt his sincerity when he speaks fondly of his current gig with FoxNews; after all, he earned his keep as a pastor and part-time televangelist before being elected Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas in 1994, and no doubt receives genuine joy from preaching. But...

2) The FoxNews position is too perfect a political instrument for me to believe that Huckabee doesn't plan on using it. By having a weekly show on the television network preferred by his party's politically active base of right-wing ideologues, he is able to maintain constant visibility in the minds of the men and women who will no doubt constitute a great portion of the 2012 primary electorate. At the same time, by avoiding venturing too far out of the waters of the politically safe within the parameters of his program (I have watched a few episodes, and am genuinely impressed with the delicate tightrope he walks between feeding the cravings of the zealots without putting his foot in his mouth), he makes sure that the high name recognition he maintains is a predominantly positive one. This is in stark contrast with Sarah Palin, whose extremism, penchant for faux pas, and media overexposure are likely to cause the public to burn out on her by the time the primaries kick off, and Mitt Romney, whose much lower profile and intent solicitation of support from the party establishment indicates a strategy that fundamentally misunderstands the populist undercurrent that will likely decide which candidate obtains the GOP nomination.

Just a thought.

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