STOP! in the Name of Huck


Reason emigre Jeremy Lott has read Mike Huckabee's campaign tome and finds it as slim and unattractive as the former Arkansas governor's aerobicized thighs.

His policy proposals on most issues are a mix of conservative rhetoric and liberal hand-wringing. On education, he proposes testing and administrative reforms, promotes charter schools and insists that states should fully fund arts and music programs. School choice is conspicuous by its absence.

On Social Security, he wants to convince Baby Boomers to work longer and continue paying into the system. Those who can afford it should be given the option to will a tax-free deferred payout to their children or grandchildren. No mention is made of private accounts for those grandchildren.

The former governor wants to position himself as someone who is "right" on the issues important to conservative activists (abortion, God, taxes, guns) but who won't turn off non-ideological voters. In other words, he's running for vice president.

He's certainly not running for that other job. Markos Moulitsas, who "used to think Huckabee was the sleeper candidate of 2008," notes that he raised about 2 percent as much as fellow Arkansan Hillary Clinton.

I don't expect Huckabee to stick in the presidential race past August or so, but the attention he's garnering for his bid is representative of a bizarre metric political journalists use for gauging "serious candidates." Huckabee does not win headlines because he's a former governor: He wins them because he used to be obese but he lost over 100 pounds. This is is vaguely interesting if you're interested in celebrity/human interest stories, completely uninteresting if you're interested in policy. But the human interest stories matter more than the policies. Thus, "former fatty Mike Huckabee" is a more buzzed-about candidate than "massively influential Gov. Tommy Thompson." John Edwards, the crusading trial lawyer with a sick wife, laps most of the Democratic field even though you could fit a list of his political achievements on a post-it note.