Libertarians John Tabin and Shawn Macomber, blogging at the American Spectator, are scratching their heads about Mike Huckabee. Not just the candidate, but the media love-fest. Tabin:
Am I the only one who finds Huckabee viscerally unappealing? There's nothing endearing to me about a cross between a diet guru and a televangelist selling condominiums in Heaven, which is how Huckabee strikes me. The guy's so full of crap I can smell it wafting out his ears. He's running on a quirky-at-best tax plan that has no chance of passing, and gets a free pass from some of the same people who harp endlessly on the alleged phoniness of Mitt Romney (whose left pinky is better qualified for the presidency than Huckabee).
Tabin's not alone. Monday night I talked with a former GOP congressman/Romney endorser about Huckabee's surge and he seemed just as mystified. But he wore a sort of shit-eating grin when he talked about the anti-Huckabee backlash to come. "He's been so under the radar that no one's taken a look at his record on immigration," he said, giving one example. "I think you're going to see that change soon, though."
However… what if it doesn't? The Huckabacklash hypothesis relies on the mainstream media getting bored of Huckabee and deciding to exposes his personal weirdness and scandals. There is no indication of this happening. Here's one (admittedly flawed) metric: Do a Lexis search for mentions in major newspapers of "Romney" and "Tavares," as in Daniel Tavares Jr, the murderer released by a judge Romney appointed. There were 59 mentions from January 1 to December 3 for a story that broke about two weeks ago. Then I did a search for "Huckabee" and "Dumond," as in Wayne Dumond, the paroled rapist who committed murder after a parole board, urged on by Huckabee, let him out. Twenty-five mentions from January 1 to December 3 for a story that had been pushed by various people all year.
The fact is that reporters really, really like Huckabee. One reason is his general affability but another is something the other GOP candidates can't steal: His liberalism. Much as reporters want Barack Obama to succeed to diminish the power of more radical black politicians (something I noodled three years ago), I think most (less me) like the idea of a Beliefnet/Michael Gerson big government conservative taking the religious right over from the Bill Bennetts and Pat Robertsons.