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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

From the SAT- Clint Eastwood is to Mitt Romney what Chuck Norris is to....

“I’ve walked away from my own income to do this,” he says, “so I’m not asking you for a sacrifice I’m not willing to make.”

And take this, Hillary Clinton. “I don’t have a global foundation or a taxpayer-funded paycheck to live off of!” Huckabee says.


The former governor of Arkansas and Southern Baptist minister, Mike Huckabee, waddled into the ring yesterday to announce his own second coming. If nothing else, Chris Christie's contribution to American politics may be appreciated for having reopened the White House doors to Taft-sized seekers.

As Roger Simon notes in Politico, The Huckster was a lot sunnier in his first try for president, eight years ago. Listening to Huckabee's announcement speech- preceded by a red-meat-slinging into by his wife, Janet- I was struck by the undertone of anger in the Huckabee pep rally. He pitched his message to his childhood neighbors in Hope, Arkansas, reveling in his youth there and a highly selective recall of the pluses- there were, apparently, no minuses- of life in those times. Everybody knew his place, and the uppity got put back in theirs, smartish. America was Top Nation and everybody knew not to mess with John Wayne: “When I hear the current president say he wants Christians to get off their high horse so we can make nice with radical jihadists, I wonder if he could watch a western from the ’50s and be able to figure out who the good guys and bad guys are!” 

It struck me Huckabee learned the lesson George Wallace did in his first, unsuccessful campaign for governor of Alabama, and has decided, this time, he'll never get out-folksied again. He went out about people who "lift heavy things" in their work, and "sweat through their clothes" but never seem to get ahead. 

This is dog-whistle talk, the sort of things grey-hairs will recall from the 1970 Nixon-Agnew congressional campaigns, when the blacks and hippies and bra-burners and antiwar types were roiling the peace and quiet of small towns across America. 

Huckabee's 2008 logo

There was a sense of gathering trouble on the horizon back then, which has, in Huckabee's view, been realized in spades. Life has passed those small towns by; the mills are gone, the Main Streets hollowed out by model Arkansas corporate citizen Wal-Mart. The only form of education acceptable to most Republicans these days, not just the Huckster, is trade-based: everything else teaches independent thought, and there lie demons. 

But the economy as changed. The trade jobs- bolting things together for high wages, with low education levels, have gone overseas in the regime of free trade pacts- and no amount of bottom-diving by states to eliminate worker rights, and reduce wages, has been sufficient to bring back the factories. And people can't be trained for anything else: this is an age of opportunity. The motivated move ahead on their own initiative. The rest are just takers, and feeling a taker- and one reduced to that by being taken from by one's inferiors- is grist for Huckabee's mill. It's the entitlement of loss, and Huckabee is going to restore his people to their proper place.

The 2016 version: A Guardian live-blogger commented it looks like something borrowed from Bank of America

There were plenty of Huckabites for the audience in Hope, worked up by Tony Orlando, now 71, (I last saw him in 1976,cavorting for President Ford at the GOP convention), some country music artists, a howlingly out-of-tune couple torturing the national anthem, and a troop of Boy Scouts. He's going to abolish the IRS! And replace it with what? That remains to be seen. Will he trot out his 2007 Fair Tax proposal, whose "revenue neutral" premise would saddle Americans with a 30% national sales tax on everything? We don't know. Huckabee moved on, issuing thinly veiled threats to the Supreme Court, offering a new gloss on his 'God's a seccesh' theory of nullification.

2004, peddling his diet book

It's hard to see where Huckabee finds traction in the primary field; he will be hard put to be out-gay-bashed or out-Christianed. And when you can't raise taxes, and want a foreign policy based on limitless, secret warfare, pretty much all you have to talk about is social issues and coining more euphemisms for cutting social support programs and suppressing the vote so the screwed-over can't do anything about it.

Maybe that's not the point. Huckabee turns 60 this year. Maybe his brand needs freshening as he heads into the twilight of his on-hold Fox News sinecure. Maybe, too- despite his scorn for public paychecks and subsidized housing as he makes a new bid for both- he has seen the future and believes it is crowdfunded conservative welfare a la Memories Pizza:
Unusual for an announcement speech, Mr. Huckabee’s address on Tuesday included a plea for money, specifically donations of $15 or $25 a month. “I will ask you to give something in the name of your children and grandchildren,” he said.
Never mind saddling them with our deficits; led's raid their college funds for Uncle Mike!

Or, perhaps, given the superannuation of Republican candidates since Ronaldus Magnus cracked the 70 barrier, Huckabee has become a sort of eight-year locust, free to clatter out from the ground in 2024, croaking, "See? I told you so."

And see we shall. 

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