Patterico's Pontifications


Huckabee Gets Attention in Iowa (Updated)

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 2:06 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Mike Huckabee is getting lots of media attention and scrutiny in Iowa, and that’s not surprising for a front-runner in an early primary state. However, some of that attention is not very flattering, such as this Politico article that paints Huckabee as a showman up to classic tricks:

“Mike Huckabee’s move to not run ads hitting back at Mitt Romney is a risky move that could rejuvenate his fading campaign — or ensure his defeat on Thursday.

That Huckabee still showed the spot to dozens of reporters jammed into a press conference will ensure the most skeptical, bordering on cynical, coverage on every national news broadcast tonight and in all the major national papers tomorrow. After it became clear that he was not going to air the ad on Iowa television, but would still preview it here, the press corps offered a collective laugh in plain recognition of what Huckabee was up to. But what the snickering big feet here say tonight or write about tomorrow is not as important as how it will be described by the local journalists who were here.

How do the local TV affilates here describe the move? What will the AP story that dozens of papers here pick up tomorrow read like? And what sort of presentation and play will The Des Moines Register give to what can only be described as a singular moment in an already topsy-turvy campaign?

More than being a preacher and pol, Huck is a showman first. And today he was in his element on center stage. He’s risen to this point almost entirely by virture of his unparalled communications skills. Those were put to the test today under a withering line of questions.”

So far, the Des Moines Register has treated this as a straight news story, without commentary, noting that Huckabee showed the ad to reporters but decided not to run the ad state-wide about an hour before the news conference:

“Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee cancelled an attack advertisement today that his campaign had planned to air against his competitor, Mitt Romney. However, he showed the television advertisement to a room packed with members of the media in a room at the Marriott hotel in downtown Des Moines.

In the ad, Huckabee criticized Mitt Romney’s “dishonest attacks” even against “an American hero, John McCain.”

Huckabee said he decided about an hour before the noon press conference, which was originally planned to unveil the ad, to pull it. “At some point we have to decide, can we change the kind of politics and the level of discourse?” he said. “I‘d like to believe we can, and it’s got to start somewhere, and it might as well start here, and it might as well start with me.”

This story isn’t up yet at the Quad-City Times but the Times did have two other interesting Huckabee soundbites:

“Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee defended his failure to read the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran in early December, joking in an interview Monday that President Bush didn’t read intelligence reports for four years.

Huckabee came under fire in early December when, in response to a reporter’s question about the Iran report, Huckabee said he wasn’t aware of it. Huckabee’s lack of familiarity with the National Intelligence Estimate — a report that showed Iran had discontinued its nuclear program — provided fuel for his critics who said he was a lightweight on foreign policy.

“The whole perception was based on an ambush question on the NIE report,” Huckabee said in an interview Monday with the Quad-City Times. “From there, it was like, ‘Wow.’ That was released at 10 o’clock in the morning. At 5:30 in the afternoon, somebody says, ‘Have you read the report?’ Maybe I should’ve said, ‘Have you read the report?’ President Bush didn’t read it for four years; I don’t know why I should read it in four hours.

There was also this excerpt about the purpose of punishment in criminal law cases:

“Just as he was hitting the trail, a man who manages a halfway house asked Huckabee about prisoner rehabilitation. “One of the reasons I get into a whole lot of trouble is because I do believe that you don’t just keep punishing people forever,” responded Huckabee, whose record on pardons has been criticized by some of his rivals.

Huckabee said the reason to punish should be to correct. “We lock up a lot of people that we’re mad at, not the ones we’re really afraid of,” he said. “And we ought to lock up the ones we’re afraid of, but the ones we’re just mad at we might find better ways” of correction.

The man told Huckabee: “If you’re going to continue on that path, you’ve got my vote. Huckabee said he was glad to hear it, “cause I would have hated to give that answer in front of all these cameras and lose your vote.”

That’s a sad commentary on the American justice system — that we lock up people we’re mad at — but it illustrates how well Huckabee uses simple soundbites to communicate. Reading Huckabee’s quotes makes him sound entertaining and likeable, similar to Bill Clinton. He’s a great salesman … but I’m not buying.

UPDATE: Here’s more from the New York Times’ Politics Blog on Huckabee’s “Enough is Enough” news conference.


14 Responses to “Huckabee Gets Attention in Iowa (Updated)”

  1. That’s a sad commentary on the American justice system — that we lock up people we’re mad at

    I don’t know…

    As a self-described “libertarian”, I will always object to the “War on Drugs”- and also to some of the ridiculous “excesses” of our Criminal Justice system–

    Still- I managed to sell a ton of pot between 1994 and 1996 (literally a “ton”– over 2000 lbs– at a profit margin of $100/$200 per lb.)- without ever attracting any Police “attention”…

    The people who get “busted” for drug trafficking always hit one of three categories–
    3)Unlucky (see #2…)

    I almost got “caught” by No. 3 one time– I was ‘pulled over’ by a “State Trooper” when I had 50 lbs of MJ in the trunk.

    My “temporary” license plate had fallen from my rear window…

    nobody (703953)

  2. I bet a lot of libertarians (at least from the anarchist wing, which is the wing I don’t like) are similar to you. You yap about principles of smaller government. But really, your concern is your ability to peddle/ingest dope.

    I’m not saying all libertarians are like that, but I think many are.

    Patterico (df2237)

  3. On the contrary, every time Huckabee makes one of these ‘folksy’ sound-bites I want to see him gone even more. He’s always saying nonsense, and folksy nonsense is really grating.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  4. But really, your concern is your ability to peddle/ingest dope.

    Calling drugs “dope” is so… I don’t know. Every time I hear someone say it I imagine them with a 1970s moustache or something.

    But think about what you just said. What point is there to possessing drugs except to sell them or to take them? People don’t want drugs to be legalized so they can buy some and sit there and look at the bag.

    I think the real reason marijuana at least remains illegal is that there’d be no way, if legalized, that the government would able to regulate and tax it effectively. There’d be enough of a share of the market that would remain outside government purview that too much tax revenue would be lost to make it bearable.

    But by saying that “many” libertarians are more concerned with selling and using drugs than principle isn’t fair. It’s basically saying that it is the libertarian’s fault that a lot of people like to use drugs. The libertarian can’t control the fact that drug use is something his principles are clear on, whether you like it or not.

    That doesn’t mean drugs should be legalized. I think weed should be decriminalized more because treating possession like a traffic ticket would be in my opinion better on everyone involved. Less court costs, less people’s lives disrupted, less police costs, all of it. Hell, make people go to rehab if you feel like it, but the punishments for smoking weed just seem very draconian to me. Libertarian principle may not like it, but drugs like cocaine are just so destructive that they should be criminal period.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  5. “We lock up a lot of people that we’re mad at, not the ones we’re really afraid of,”

    is extremely, deliberately, vague. Someone shoudl ask him precisely who he is talking about.

    David Ehrenstein (da3648)

  6. Huckabee is a disaster. I’m glad Iowa is starting to realize what a sham he is.

    Cory (863679)

  7. I don’t know what Huck’s thoughts on drugs are, but I do know that he’s a dope.

    trentk269 (7d6983)

  8. chaos,

    In California, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is a 100 dollar fine with no jail time.

    Peddling a ton of weed, like our dope peddler friend above, is different. You’ll go to prison. If it’s federal, it could be for a long time.

    You correctly identify why decriminalizing drugs won’t magically solve the problem, as so many libertarians think it will. Unless it is to be the only tax-free commodity in the country, the black market will remain.

    Why are libertarian principles different for cocaine than for pot?

    Patterico (6d60b9)

  9. Unless it is to be the only tax-free commodity in the country, the black market will remain.

    Very true. Eastern Kentucky produces the bulk of the nation’s domestic pot and have started branching into meth labs now. The small size of the communities practically guarantees undercover operations fail and for these very poor communities it is the major source of income.
    Legalizing it won’t change the Appalachian folks practices.

    voiceofreason (1a18d6)

  10. If MJ was legalized, and taxed, what makes anyone think that the “Revenooers” wouldn’t be busting illegal pot farms just as they busted illegal stills. In fact, I think they would have a greater determination to do so as there would be a large amount of uncollected tax revenue at stake.
    As it is now, they’re just busting some pot-heads, etc., for breaking the law on commerce in drugs. Then, after a conviction, they can go after them for Income Taxes, but they’ve already confiscated/forfeited all of the available assetts.
    If it was legalized, they’ld get you for back fees and taxes, but force you to buy a license so that you would have an income to pay your fines with. You’re just another business trying to operate under the radar, and they’ll force you onto the screen whether you like it or not.
    Sure beats sitting in a slam somewhere.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  11. Richard Nixon ( of all people) once said you usually get the elected official you deserve.
    If Huckabull is elected Nixon’s words will have real meaning.
    I say this as an evengelical Christian, so I am not coming from some anti-religious position.
    Has anyone thought that this is an Ed Rollins stunt?

    Edward Cropper (c4b111)

  12. So Huckabee’s message is, basically, “I’m above negative politics, so I’m not going to run this negative ad. Now pay attention, reporters, as I play this ad that I’m not going to run. You’ll of course report what you saw in this ad, thus giving my ad lots of free press and saving me the expense of running it with my campaign’s money. So I get to look like I’m above the fray even as I’m maneuvering to disseminate the message communicated in the ad.”

    What a slimeball. Not that I expected anything different from the Huckster. Dishonesty has defined his campaign right from the beginning. Hopefully this two-faced faux abstention from negative campaigning will mark the beginning of the end of the Huckasnake’s campaign. May this RINO’s campaign die quickly; its death has been far, far too long in coming.

    And could someone please tell me what the **** is wrong with the people of Arkansas? They elected Bill Clinton eight times (one as attorney general, five as governor, two as president), and elected Huckabee four times (twice as lieutenant governor, twice as governor). It was bad enough that they elected J. William Fulbright and Orval Faubus, but for cryin’ out loud, after all this time, can’t they break their habit of electing these moral midgets?

    Alan (c36902)

  13. I think incarcerating people we’re mad at – not just afraid of – is a really good idea.

    Let’s take Lyle and Erik Menendez. I’m not afraid of them; they killed their parents to get the money so they didn’t have to work. (If you believe it was primarily for some other reason, feel free. The point still holds.)

    Let’s say that I don’t think poor Lyle and Erik will kill again. I’m certainly not afraid of them killing me.

    And yet, I want to incarcerate them! Not because they are a danger – I don’t think they are! But because I’m mad at them! What a crummy human being I must be.

    Today’s word for the day is: “Deterrence.” Not just deterring Lyle and Erik, but deterring the next Lyle and Erik. We do that to people we’re mad at so the next selfish jackass doesn’t kill anyone because there are consequences to actions.

    It’s not that complicated.

    Given that, I think David Ehrenstein’s comment 5 is well-taken.


    JRM (355c21)

  14. I have a problem with Huckabee’s statement that “we incarcerate people we are mad at” because, like David E. said, it is so vague. It makes the criminal justice system sound random and arbitrary, and I suspect that’s exactly what Huckabee wants voters to think.

    Politicians that run as your best friend want you to think they are the only thing that can protect you from the big, bad government.

    DRJ (09f144)

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