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Tilting at Windmills

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December 31, 2007

HUCKABEE'S MELTDOWN?....I wasn't planning to do yet another post about Mike Huckabee, but this one's too good to pass up.

There's been quite a bit of buzz today about Huckabee unveiling an important, hard-hitting ad at an Iowa press conference, which ostensibly would curtail Mitt Romney's momentum in the closing days before the caucuses.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the smackdown. Marc Cooper reports from Des Moines:

In what is likely to be remembered as one of the more bizarre moments of this campaign season, embattled GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee renounced negative campaigning today by unveiling an attack ad to a ballroom full of reporters and dozens of TV cameras.

Standing before a banner reading "Enough is Enough" and flanked by five large charts attacking the record of rival Mitt Romney, a haggard-looking Huckabee said that the fight to win Thursday's Republican caucus had gotten "out of hand" and "out of control" and that he would refrain from any more negative campaigning.

Huckabee told the assembled crowd of reporters, which I've been told was pretty big, that he and his campaign had already finished the attack ad, sent it local TV stations, and announced the press conference to unveil it ... and then Huckabee had an epiphany. "From now we will run only ads that say why I should be president not why Mitt Romney shouldn't be president," he said.

At which point, Huckabee showed the reporters the attack ad anyway, prompting what Cooper said was "loud gasps and laughter from the more than 150 reporters on hand."

Marc Ambinder noted that Huckabee is presumably "hoping that gullible news executives will run the ad that Huckabee is too much of a saint for not airing -- for free." Of course, given the reported laughter in the room, that seems unlikely.

We've all seen some very cheap stunts over the years, but they're not usually this cheap and not this transparent. Reporters covering the campaign aren't idiots, and Huckabee just insulted their intelligence.

Joe Klein concluded, "That sound you hear rumbling out of Des Moines appears to be a monumental implosion."

Steve Benen 4:49 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (49)

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Comments

Reporters covering the campaign aren't idiots,
Maybe not, but that would explain a lot of things.

Posted by: AJ on December 31, 2007 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

"Reporters covering the campaign aren't idiots."

They aren't?

Stop the presses.

Posted by: corpus juris on December 31, 2007 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

The Reporters already hate Huckabee. He lost nothing by pissing them off. If anything, their hatred of him seems to drive his supporters to be more extreme in their support.

Posted by: soullite on December 31, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Huckleberry is a joke. A bad one.

Posted by: Tim B. on December 31, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

They may not be idiots, but they think we are.

Posted by: namvetted on December 31, 2007 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the thing, though . . .

Even something this cheap, and this transparent, might've worked for Huck if he was someone else. Let's face it, Huck is a huge insult to the Villagers, and it is a huge sign of how little he understands Washington that he doesn't understand that -- notwithstanding he is the frontrunner in Iowa and now a solid contender for the Republican nomination -- so far as the Villagers are concerned Huck is just po' white trash from Arkansas . . . just like those skeevy Clintons were.

"This isn't their town, it's our town, and they trashed it."

If Huck was Romney, he might even have been able to get away with this stunt. Worse than his gaffes over Pakistan, this blatant display that he just really doesn't get his 'place' in big-time, Washington politics shows that he just isn't ready for prime time.

Sure . . . it was a cheap, transparent, cynical ploy, and you won't catch me shedding any tears if Huck really is imploding. But it's also a damned shame, 'cause you just know that the idea originated with one of his paid advisors who forgot -- for a moment -- that he was working for someone the Villagers consider 'unwashed,' and therefore unable to get away with the bullshit that flies for those the Village has anointed.

It's a damned shame not because Huck is anything other than a scurvy dog, but because it reveals the rotten myopia through which all U.S. politics is now seen.

Posted by: swellsman on December 31, 2007 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

This was a pretense for Huckabee to say
"What shall it profit a man, if he should win all the world and lose his own soul" over and over and over again.

The Huck better hope all those evangelicals turn up at the caucus.

Posted by: SLTT on December 31, 2007 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Who says the MSN won't run the ad? We report, you decide...

Posted by: bobbywally on December 31, 2007 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt he was trying to fool them; Huckabee was probably counting on more goodwill from the reporters, and the expectation that it would amuse them to play along with the charade. (The sort of charity Bush gets all the time.)

But this ain't Little Rock, Arkansas; and Huck misjudged the distance of the too-far line.

Posted by: lampwick on December 31, 2007 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like a cheesy fiasco, but I wouldn't count him out yet. Huckabee has already been an object of derision both for the press and the GOP establishment, so it's not clear that this will cost him much.

Posted by: kth on December 31, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Klein concluded, "That sound you hear rumbling out of Des Moines appears to be a monumental implosion."

Joke Line is official Village Scribe.
I completely agree with swellsman @ 5.10

Let's face it, Huck is a huge insult to the Villagers, and it is a huge sign of how little he understands Washington that he doesn't understand that -- notwithstanding he is the frontrunner in Iowa and now a solid contender for the Republican nomination -- so far as the Villagers are concerned Huck is just po' white trash from Arkansas . . . just like those skeevy Clintons were.

Posted by: Monty on December 31, 2007 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

While this performance might be cheap and transparent, if it had been St. John McCain, or even Romney, who did it the corporate press/media would have been praising it uncritically.

Those not engaged in a group massage of the candidate would be castigating the Democrats for not doing something similar.

Posted by: James E. Powell on December 31, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Between this & Thompson's poorly timed candor the other day, you almost have to wince. It's a giant race for last place. This crew of Republicans is soooo not ready for prime time.

Posted by: junebug on December 31, 2007 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

"Reporters covering the campaign aren't idiots"

Evidence please.

Posted by: Tlaloc on December 31, 2007 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

I guess this is Huckabee's manufactured Iowa scream.

Posted by: corpus juris on December 31, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Huck was getting a haircut by a barer in a 3 piece suit. Who gets a haircut by a barber in a 3 piece suit? How much did that haircut cost? Why aren't we discussing these important issues?

Posted by: molly bloom on December 31, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Huckabee's press conference is already up on YouTube.
I wouldn't be surprised if the attack ad finds its way there.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on December 31, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, if they didn't play the ad, it would have worked. And worked REALLY well. I mean REALLY I WIN THE NOMINATION well. And possibly even the general election.

Think about it. Politician has a change of heart, and changes his way of doing politics. It's a Hollywood story, and given the right spreading, it's a winner.

But then he killed the whole thing. Nice.

Posted by: Karmakin on December 31, 2007 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

I was going to say that Huckabee is a dumb, liposucked douchebag who hids his stupidity behind the Bible, but I changed my mind.

Posted by: nitpicker on December 31, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

"It's a giant race for last place. This crew of Republicans is soooo not ready for prime time."

Agreed.

Posted by: Aaron on December 31, 2007 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

So the national press corps will let you lie, dissemble, browbeat, obfuscate, cheat, and manipulate, but you can't insult their intelligence?

Okay, now we know what they consider out of bounds.

Posted by: jrw on December 31, 2007 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Klein concluded, "That sound you hear rumbling out of Des Moines appears to be a monumental implosion."

—Steve Benen

Let's hope it was Joe Klein's own brain.

Posted by: Econobuzz on December 31, 2007 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

He already has the entire Right media establishment, from George Will and Peggy Noonan to Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter trying to kneecap him, but they haven't yet. He is even baiting Limbaugh and thriving on his attacks.

How does belittling him over this work any different at feeding the class resentments of the "little people"

Posted by: Horselover Fat on December 31, 2007 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

It seems like Huckabee's campaign has gone downhill ever since Ed Rollins came aboard.

Posted by: Rich on December 31, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Huck's right about one thing: Mitt's the biggest liar in the bunch. But Rudy's the worst exaggerator, and Huck is the sneakiest. Which leaves McCain, who (lest we forget) should have gone to prison for selling his office, as The Last Honest Man (or facsimile thereof).

What a party.

Posted by: penalcolony on December 31, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

"Reporters covering the campaign aren't idiots"

My personal opinion on political reporters is that drug dealers have the moral authority to push them to the ground and kick their teeth in when walking past them on the street. But that's just me.

Druge dealers don't claim that they're providing a service to the country and working to make it a better place, but reporters do, and if anything they achieve the opposite.

Newspapers and the rest of the media exist to make money, not to inform, not to edify, not to provide a public service. Once people understand that, the abhorrent behavior and practices of the media become fully understandable.

Posted by: blah2 on December 31, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

blah2: Drug dealers don't claim that they're providing a service to the country and working to make it a better place,

Speak for yourself, please. Little pharma is doing as much as big pharma to make the world better, and they know it.

Posted by: anandine on December 31, 2007 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

The rule that was broken was not that Huck treated us voters like we are stupid --that's okay.

He got into trouble by treating the reporters like they are stupid. A big no-no. That's what reporters do to us, not what candidates do to reporters.

Posted by: david in norcal on December 31, 2007 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Reporters covering the campaign aren't idiots,

I'm still mulling this over.

Posted by: craigie on December 31, 2007 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

Q: How do you get Mike Huckabee out of a bathtub?
A: Throw in a bar of soap.

Q: What's the difference between a Huckabee wedding and a Huckabee funeral?
A: There's one less drunk at the funeral.

Q: Do you know that one of Mike Huckabee’s relatives invented the toothbrush?
A: Yes, otherwise it would have been called a “teethbrush”.

Q: How do you tell the bride at a Huckabee wedding?
A: She's wearing the cleanest T-shirt.

Q: How do you circumcise Mike Huckabee?
A: Kick his sister in the chin.

A reporter asked Mike Huckabee what he thought about the President Bush civil rights bill. He answered: "If he owes it, I reckon he should pay it."

You know how to make the Huckabee family favorite chicken soup? You start by stealing a couple of chickens...

Mike Huckabee came running into the local store and said to his buddy, "Gomer, somebody just stole your pickup truck." Gomer said, "Did you see who it was?" Mike Huckabee replied, "I couldn't tell, but I got the license number!"

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on December 31, 2007 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Reporters covering the campaign aren't idiots ...

Correct. At least idiots have a legitimate excuse.

Joke Line is not a reporter anyways, so it's confusing as to why he is even quoted here. Klein has admitted that he doesn't have the time or interest to actually pick up the phone or the Google and do factual research on the incoherent blobs of alpha numeric text that carry his byline.

Posted by: Douglas Watts on December 31, 2007 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

Q: What did Mike Huckabee get on his IQ test?
A: Drool.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on December 31, 2007 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

Mike Huckabee - #47 on the list of The 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2007.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on December 31, 2007 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

A "huckabee" may now rival a "mulligan".

But seriously, this is a horrible way to pick the most powerful person in the world for the next 4 to 8 years.

What person with a healthy ego and value system would go through this? At some fundamental level, none of them are really qualified, or the "most" qualified.

We should start thinking about changing the process to a more parliamentary system where congress gets to elect the president, or something... or pundits get to elect based on polling numbers where no actual vote takes place, like the Star Trek episode where a computer determines in a virtual war scenario if you were hit and killed, and thus required to actually voluntarily get liquidated. But there may be other options too.

Posted by: larry on December 31, 2007 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

It seems perfectly in character that he is being honest, he probably changed his mind after the footage had been delivered. At which point it was too late to bury the add, someone was bound to leak the content. Either that or he concocted a ploy, but that is equally incompetant.

Posted by: bigTom on December 31, 2007 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

>"Reporters covering the campaign aren't idiots, and Huckabee just insulted their intelligence."

Where's Hunter S. Thompson when we need him the most?

Posted by: Buford on December 31, 2007 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

Shucks. I wuz kinda warmin' up to da guy.

I mean, the sheer mendacity of his thought process (singular for one neuron) has bedazzled us all these past few weeks.

Huck, we hardly new thee. (I know I dropped the K!)

Ya gotta luv our preznut fest-apaign.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on December 31, 2007 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

After seeing the press corps roll over for the Bush administration on Iraq, Huckabee thought he'd try the Jedi Mind Trick too.

Mike, you ain't one of the insiders. Sorry. You'll always be on the outside looking in. Feel like a chump now?

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on December 31, 2007 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think the voters Huckabee is gunning for give a flying fuck what reporters think.

Posted by: Boronx on December 31, 2007 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

Rich nails it: everything went downhill soon as he hired Ed Rollins.

Huckabee is so not ready for prime time, but I was hoping it was going to take a few more months for people to notice it...

Posted by: bcamarda on December 31, 2007 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody named "Huckabee" could ever get elected anyway.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on December 31, 2007 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

>>>>"Reporters covering the campaign aren't idiots"

>>>Evidence please.

>>... a monumental implosion.

>Let's hope it was Joe Klein's own brain.

Evidence please.

Posted by: d2 at 43rdstateblues on January 1, 2008 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

Steve: "Joe Klein concluded, ..."

(Sigh!) Mercifully, and it's a damn shame that it's not permanent.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii - Go Warriors! on January 1, 2008 at 1:19 AM | PERMALINK

What scum these Republicans be!

As if even ONE of 'em would be
a worthy dogcatcher.

My. God.

Posted by: nikto on January 1, 2008 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

Is this the same Huckabee the mediated noggins were telling us a few short weeks ago was likeable and charming and funny?

I mean, I was just getting off of the Freddie "Next Reagan" bandwagon and was getting on board the Huckabee/Maccabee Express.

Now I guess I gotta get back on board the McCain Hearse....I hear that now he's surging again he's stocking his bus with Dove bars and pate' shaped like his jowl lumps.

-GSD

Posted by: GSD on January 1, 2008 at 2:57 AM | PERMALINK

No, such a stunt would never be acceptable by Romney's campaign because Romney would never consider doing such a STUPID thing. But another author has pointed out three things about the Huckabee campaign, which I think are valid points:

• He is mistake prone, particularly when it comes to commenting about foreign policy.

• He can be thin-skinned and rash. Two of his advisers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said privately Monday that the production of the ad was fueled by Huckabee's white-hot anger with Romney, and that his change of mind was jarring to the campaign staff.

• He has a paltry political organization in a state that values the ground game, according to an informal survey of GOP county chairs and co-chairs. "I haven't seen much of a sign of him or his people," said Jim Conklin, chairman of the Linn County GOP.

So if Huck's campaign in Iowa hasn't imploded, it's only because most of the folks there are too hung over today to really care. But they'll care tomorrow, and if they vote for Huck they'll be sorry they did.

Posted by: Rockyspoon on January 1, 2008 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

"What scum these Republicans be!

As if even ONE of 'em would be
a worthy dogcatcher."

Not at all fair to dog catchers. Dog catching takes some skill.

Posted by: larry on January 1, 2008 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't this a variation old tactic of Cicero's? "I would never call my opponent a child molester..."

That said, the proper way to illustrate how awful the ads were would be to show your opponents ads an dissect them -- but that would run the risk of giving your opponents free advertising, so why not use your own negative add to show how bad the negative ads are? I mean, other than the blatant hypocrisy.

Posted by: bobdog on January 1, 2008 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Kook-I-be! But he really isn't even as bad as the neocon plutocracy machine republicans ..

Posted by: Neil B. on January 1, 2008 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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