Huckabee’s Running While Strumming and Smiling

God help me, I’m watching Fox.

I’m an addictive cable news channel flipper, like many of you, and one of the places where my remote rests is “Huckabee” on Fox News on Sunday night, 10 p.m. Here I can see the 2012 campaign under way. Look out, Sarah, Mike’s gonna out-folks ya.

huckabee_bioFormer Arkansas Governor and Iowa caucus winner Mike Huckabee has an interview show that is relatively thoughtful, mostly enjoyable — and there’s no yelling. The show has some wonderful charm — Huckabee has a band scratched together from Fox employees with day jobs — from the woman who runs the Fox health club to the chief religion correspondent. How cool — folks from the office getting to play tunes on TV. They’re called The Little Rockers (great name, Mike) and they’re pretty good.

huck_audience_90x70This all sounds like faint praise — “relatively thoughtful,” “pretty good.” Huckabee ain’t no Bill Moyers (one of Fox fraud Bill O’Reilly’s favorite punching bags — yeah, like O’Reilly could even carry Moyers’s bags). Huck’s  interviewing style is respectful, his questions go about one level below the surface, and while you don’t learn much that’s going to change your life, I find myself watching.  I saw him interview Dan Rather and guitar player Jim Burton, who played with Elvis and Sinatra. Huckabee has a humble warmth — or at least projects that — and seems genuinely interested in his guests, not using them only as launching pads for his own brilliant commentary.  During the campaign he was one of the few candidates who seemed like a human being.

And he doesn’t seem mad or vindictive or doctrinaire. As with another former Arkansas governor, there’s a little taint of the too-practiced to Mike — his smile flashes broad and automatic sometimes, but that might be his preacher background where he had to smile through receiving lines. He also doesn’t seem overly partisan. In the new world of Obama, where voters don’t want someone who’s too wrapped up in party politics, Huckabee’s smooth oil-on-the-water feel might make him just the ticket for 2012.

Huckabee’s building a base on Fox News. It’s a small base, a million people if he’s lucky. And they are likely indeed base conservative Republicans. But then there are people like me watching — at least I doubt I’m the only furry liberal tuned in. If his show picks up some steam, it could be a good platform for Mike Huckabee to show himself off as a moderate conservative who actually has a personality and a life.

In a party with too many prickly and depressing people like Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and probably Sarah Palin, who will tell you what’s wrong with everyone else, Mike Huckabee seems to be a guy you could stand to spend time with. And maybe pick up a simple insight or two. The Little Rockers sang Sunday night about federal bailouts, to the tune of Elvis’s Jailhouse Rock: “Congress has sold us a crock, now we’re doin’ the bail-house rock.” What a treat — humor from the right, instead of self-righteous bitchy lectures.

And while he hangs around to see what turns up, Huckabee gets to play his bass in public. Not a bad gig.

— Bruce Benidt unsecured business loans nice

9 thoughts on “Huckabee’s Running While Strumming and Smiling

  1. PM says:

    Yeah, I’ve watched it too, and the thing that strikes me is exactly the same–there is no yelling and screaming! What a pleasant change from the rest of Fox. And Huckabee does seem almost sane. I’ve even seen him interview the Religulous guy (Bill Maher), and he was reasonable–nary a sputter in sight (that is not to say that he was convincing, but he was civil, which is a big difference from someone as far to the right as Huck is).

    And he is funny and nice.

    If the Republicans want to win, this is how they will do it. Resentment will not work.

    On the other hand, I don’t know that it will sell advertising on Fox….

  2. I’ve always enjoyed Huckabee on a personal level. I disagree with him on many issues and find myself aligned rather closely with him on others.

    But there’s one thing we can all appreciate: His ability, his desire, to speak English, rather than that bastardized language known as Candidate. (And, of course, nearly all politicians speak Candidate because they’re always auditioning for the next something.)

    When you mentioned “self-righteous bitchy lectures,” were you thinking of Air America, by chance? 🙂

    And the talentless-but-fun-loving “musician” in me, not to mention my proofreader personality, can’t let the “play his base” line slide. That, of course, should be “bass.” Unless you’re being punny, referring to his political base. In that case, I’m just dense.

  3. Dr K says:

    Huckaby is eminently likable. His problem is that he’s a faux conservative, and that’s why – I presume – you libs favor him.

    P.S. Fox’s audience is double that of CNN’s.

  4. Joe Loveland says:

    Agree with those saying Huck is the most electable on the horizon. He’s a very talented pol. As a liberal, I don’t like him the most, Doc; I fear him the most.

    And I wouldn’t scoff at the Fox audience. One million is a daily snapshot, but millions more go in and out of that picture. That is, I’m not watching today, so am not reflected in today’s measurement. But I and many surfers like me will be watching a couple dozen times per year, and that is a lot of exposure. Consider what Obama paid for his 30-minute infomercial. Huck gets around two hundred of those per year. Golden.

  5. Ellen Mrja says:

    Bruce: On the surface Huckabee might appear as if he is not “doctrinaire.” But the truth is he is opposed to gay marriage and is quite willing to deny the benefits of matrimony to millions of Americans who are gay.

    How does he justify this? Well, Huckabee believes the Bible says marriage is between one man and one woman. Nevermind that there are also passages in the Bible against interracial marriage and for polygamous marriage. Huckabee picks and chooses.

    I guess I’d rather spend time with people who believe in equal rights for all.

  6. He’s also tight with televangelist Kenneth Copeland. (I broke the story last year about the Copeland conference’s $100k-plus offering to Huckabee’s campaign.)

    I think he’s a decent human being and skillful communicator. His Chuck Norris spot was better than anything any major candidate did to convey a regular dude personality.

    But I’m with Joe and Ellen. I’d rather enjoy him on TV.

  7. EIleen says:

    Bruce, my friend, let me offer an alternative. Major League Baseball just launched its own network. Spending your time watching old ballgames and shows about the best third basemen of all time, for example, is much more enjoyable than Fox News. I know it will be difficult at first, but trust me, it’s worth the change. It will make you a much happier person. Remember how much fun it was to watch the 87 World Series on Beta? Now THAT was a party!

  8. Huckabee is a frequent guest on the Daily Show — one of the few “politics” shows that makes it over to the UK, albeit a day later — and I’ve always enjoyed the give and take that he enjoys with John Stewart. Like most of the rest of the folks posting here, I am not a fan of his politics, but I do really like his low-key approach, pragmatism and charm!
    And why does everyone else on the cable news channels (Fox & MSNBC) have to yell anyway?

  9. bruce benidt says:

    Ellen, I’m proud to be, for the first time since I can remember, chastised from the left. Cool. You’re right about the word “doctrinaire.” Huckabee probably seems less doctrinaire than he really is — which would make him even more dangerous. On the other hand, it all depends on whose doctrine we’re calling doctrinaire. Part of my doctrine is that we need to take care of our environment. I would make sure that’s part of every decision I made as a public official. Righties would call me doctrinaire. I’d call myself committed.

    It’s all in how one comports oneself. If I give a lecture on the environment every time someone comes close to me, I’m doctrinaire. If I listen to all other views but still make my decision based on my commitment to the environment, I’m not doctrinaire. I’m okay with someone who holds ideas different from mine, as long as that person doesn’t think his or her ideas come straight from God.

    Oh, wait.

    I am dumb, if not doctrinaire. Keliher, uh, yeah, I was testing your acuity by spelling bass base. Yeah, that’s it. But if you spell the musical instrument bass, how can you be sure you’re not playing a fish? And you’re so right on the Senator speak crap. So far Amy Klobuchar hasn’t succumbed to it, but most speak like they’re trying to impress old Colonial Royalists. And you’re also right about Air America — I have trouble listening, even though I agree with much of what they say. They dismiss and mock the other side ruthlessly — which is fun but not very human and not likely to change anyone’s minds. But I do think, probably from my bias, that there are more grumpy yellers on the right.

    And, Ellen, isn’t it Brooks Robinson?

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