Monday, December 03, 2007

Huckabee Is Ready for His Closeup

His lead in the Iowa polls has propelled Mike Huckabee into the Republican top tier, making it a certainty he will be cover-storied, 60-Minuted and commented-on ad nauseam this month.

For a start, a reporter who covered him for years in Arkansas, John Brummett, insists the former Governor is, by nature and experience, less a preacher than a huckster, "more decidedly a media man than a pulpit man," that his success "comes via a disc jockey's shtick rather than a pastor's...more Don Imus than Billy Graham."

Like the Great Communicator, Ronald Reagan, Huckabee got his start working in radio, reading news and weather at the age of 14 before going off to seminaries and coming back to work for a TV evangelist.

As a preacher, he supplemented his income on cable TV and, even as lieutenant governor, guest-hosted for a radio talk show host. That would explain Huckabee's ease with pop cultural references, such as complaining last spring that his campaign was drawing less attention than "Britney Spears getting out a car without underwear."

Now the attention is there. In the Los Angeles Times yesterday, Huckabee was pictured playing his electric guitar and quoted as saying, "I drink a different kind of Jesus juice."

Out front now with the leaders now, he will be drawing fire for lack of ardor in tax-cutting by the Grover Norquist gang, softness as a self-styled Second-Commandment Christian and other perceived shortcomings by the Religious Right, possibly even Willie-Horton attacks for commuting the sentence of a rapist who later killed a woman.
But Huckabee's amiable MC manner may be concealing a much tougher campaigner. Nobody should underestimate the determination of a man who dieted and sweated off 110 pounds to save his health and now regularly runs in marathons.

Those cover stories won't be dull.

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