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Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee got the biggest laugh of the GOP debate, no contest, with a joke about Republican spending: "We've had Congress that's spent money like Edwards at a beauty shop." The Fox moderators actually had to wait out the crushing waves of applause from the audience before asking their next question. So today John Derbyshire, nobody's liberal, says Huckabee went over the line.

I never thought I'd be tempted to use the word "mean-spirited," but I am here. This is Coulter territory, Mike — it's marked out, like a minefield. Stay away.

It was a hell of a departure for Huckabee, whose distinguishing characteristic in the campaign thus far was a Muppet-esque likeability and softness. And it's a little ironic because the only reason Huckabee is a minor national figure—why he's in the race and not some other recent Southern governor with the latest Roget's Big Book o' Country Homilies—is that he famously lost more than a hundred pounds. Huckabee's got as much or more mileage from the media focus on politicians' looks than the Dorian Gray of North Carolina.

NEXT: Blowback from the Blowback Debate

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  1. Now I have the image of Mix-Master-Mike…Huckabee(Say Wuh?) porkin’ some chick (dude?), in a BB King Bathroom….So how much do I owe ya?

  2. So much was said about how the John Edwards line got the biggest laugh of the night. If that is the height of Republican humor then, well, I don’t know. It wasn’t particularly clever or witty imo. It kinda warranted a “heh” but that is about it.

    Still, it wasn’t all that mean-spirited. If anyone is getting genuinely upset over that they are just embarrassing themselves. It is certainly nowhere near as despicable as Coulter calling Edwards a “faggot”.

  3. Yeah it was mean but such is politics. Some things just stick like glue in the public mind and the politician can never get over that perception. Ford was a clutz. Dan Quale was stupid. Al Gore was a blowhard who takes credit for inventing everything. I think Edwards is a metro sexual pretty boy may well define him fair or not. The reason why the line got a laugh is becuase it seems to be the general perception of Edwards and it probably is why Edwards has no chance to be elected President.

  4. The Huckabee line reminded me of a line in an earlier campaign, about

    “the man who broke every promise he ever made, and . . . the man who, if he is elected, one can only hope and pray that he will break every promise he ever made.” [from John Schmitz in the 1972 Presidential race]

    Both were remarkable lines, but from very unremarkable candidates.

    I voted for Schmitz that year but only because there was no tolerable alternative; Hospers wasn’t on the ballot.

  5. that’s “Burger King bathroom”

    I know the entire lyrics to that song getting on 20 years later for some inexplicable reason.

  6. Come on. This is something most any man might say about a friend who spent a lot of money on a haircut.

    There were much stupider things said at the debate.

  7. that’s “Burger King bathroom”

    I know the entire lyrics to that song getting on 20 years later for some inexplicable reason.

    Brain fart.

    Yeah I know them all too. I think it is because I had a 10th grade Social Science teacher who spent two class sessions entirely devoted to that song.

  8. Yeah it was mean but such is politics. Some things just stick like glue in the public mind and the politician can never get over that perception. Ford was a clutz. Dan Quale was stupid. Al Gore was a blowhard who takes credit for inventing everything. I think Edwards is a metro sexual pretty boy may well define him fair or not. The reason why the line got a laugh is becuase it seems to be the general perception of Edwards and it probably is why Edwards has no chance to be elected President.

    You’re kind of right actually, and it’s telling that Reagan’s “senile old man” and Bush Jr’s “dumb frat boy” memes didn’t hurt them with the electorate.

  9. Derbyshire is wrong. That comment wasn’t mean spirited or Coulter-esque. It was funny, true, and I seriously doubt that John Edwards was offended. After all, he got a pile of free publicity……

  10. That sounds like a cool class. It’s oral poetry, like Homer. A post-literate shame culture where you brag about your access to resources.

    Big like a pickle
    I’m still gettin paid

  11. Maybe he meant it was mean-spirited of Huckabee to mock the GOP’s spending habits.

  12. Derbyshire is wrong. That comment wasn’t mean spirited or Coulter-esque. It was funny, true, and I seriously doubt that John Edwards was offended. After all, he got a pile of free publicity……

    Good point. It’s certainly true that Edwards couldn’t feel too bad that the Republicans consider him a serious enough threat to engage in a little nervous character-assault against him on national TV.

  13. The audience response was a bit Daily Show-ish, where the partisan audience over-laughs at a not-all-that-funny canned joke.

  14. Oh, and isn’t Huckabee also a minor national figure for being in a rock band?

  15. I view elected politicians like used-car salesmen or telemarketers–their feelings matter little to me.

  16. Don’t fool yourself. A lot of Republican operatives spent a lot of money tying those nasty reputations to those Democratic politicians. What, you thought everybody woke up one morning thinking about Edward’s hair? It’s the same great technology that sells us soap, breakfast cereal, and war.

  17. I thought huckabee’s other slip was a bigger deal. When asked about how he justified raising taxes in his state he said it was because 80% of his people supported it. They should have asked him whether or not 70% disapproval ratings of the war justify its ending

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