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May 23, 2006

Mike Huckabee is the Republican's Jared Fogel

Am I the only person mystified by the rise of Mike Huckabee as a Republican presidential hopeful?

It seems as if Huckabee is being touted as presidential material because he managed to lose 100 pounds and write a diet book. He's the Jared Fogel of politics.

Chris Cillizza writes:

Yes, that Mike Huckabee: The Arkansas governor who went from fat to fit, from munching to marathoning, from political unknown to a man profiled by the nation's leading news organizations. Huckabee's wild ride has not only transformed him physically but also politically.  A few years ago he was best known as the second most famous politician from Hope, Arkansas.  Now, Huckabee is mentioned on the short list of candidates for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, alongside names like Sen. John McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Whether Huckabee can keep pace with these national notables depends on one question: Does he have the political heft to get voters to focus beyond what he's currently best-known for nationally -- his significant weight loss and adoption of a rigorous physical exercise and healthy eating regimen -- to his broader vision for the nation?

"A lot of people have sort of tied me to, 'Gosh, he's the guy that lost the weight and wrote the book," acknowledged Huckabee in an hour-long interview last week in Washington, D.C. "But that then usually leads to, 'Is there anything else about you, or is this it? Is that all you've got?'" [WaPo]

Of course, as Cillizza goes on to explain Huckabee is also an evangelical Christian who says he would have signed the South Dakota abortion ban:

Asked whether he considers himself to be more "preacher" or "politician," Huckabee insisted that it is impossible to separate the two. "I would say that my faith has everything to do with my politics," he explained. [WaPo]

Maybe it's smart marketing on Huckabee's part to play up his diet success story. Americans are universally preoccupied with weight. For your average evangelical Republican governor, a Colbert interview would be a trial by fire. Yet Huckabee's appearance on the Report was a breeze because it was all about weight loss. I don't recall any embarassing questions about religion or abortion.

Update: Obviously, there are other reasons why Mike Huckabee is well-positioned for a presidential bid, namely that he's a Southern governor. He's staking out his turf as the "cultural" candidate, the guy who wants to run to the right of Santorum on abortion and gay rights. I just think it's interesting that he's introducing himself to the country as a diet book author first.


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His evangelical wingnuttery aside, he's a pretty warm personality and not at all creepy like Jared is. That's a pretty big help. (Okay, except the pretty creepy but also oddly sweet for a middle-aged couple covenant marriage thing.)

Huckabee's wifey was quite the ethical goddess, challenging the rights of minority voters, women voters, even senior voters, to cast their vote in the State Captial.

Actually she's done so every election since 2000.

Her husband pardoned Wayne Dumond, who attacked a relative of Bill Clinton's , and who contested his parole hearings personally.

Evidence not presented to jury, but critical to his maximum sentence included his background turning State's evidence in an Oklahoma public park for the beating death of a veteran with claw hammers by a group of men Dumond was hanging out with.

He was reportedly going there to ask Dumond about his actions with the man's teenaged niece.

Also several other women testified to his raping them. One who did not press charges for fear of her own standing within the community. The other who was in shock for two days, yet Dumond's attack matched his MO and she had a police description that matched him, he lived in the region both victims lived at the time.

Wayne Dumond went on to kill and rape women in Northwest Arkansas and in West Missouri. Two murder-rape convictions.

Mike Huckabee's cavalier attitude toward the collateral results stems from a letter writing campaign via the Free Republic and frequented commenter Jerome Corsi.

Meanwhile Huckabee is trying to end run the Constitution to suspend paygo and lock up fat cat highway contracts for his buddies and do his best to subvert jobs for the communities the roads will be built in.

Hope is his home town? Guess we know why all the FEMA trailers stand there empty now...

Mike Huckabee needs to eat crow for the rest of his days as a result of his actions in office, and those of his bigoted wife. Cookie cutter examples of how to deny the right to vote, front the bills onto our children, or go after Democrats' families, real American values...

Huckabee disturbs me for a lot of reasons.

First of all, there is the hypocrisy. He claims to have lost weight solely by changing his diet and exercising, with no kind of medical intervention whatsoever. But there are a lot of rumors floating around that he had weight loss surgery. I happen to believe those rumors. It is extremely rare that a middle-aged person can lose 100+ pounds without surgery, let alone keep it off. Trust me, it almost never happens!

There's about as much of a chance that he lost all that weight without surgery, as that Star Jones lost hers by doing pilates.

This is disturbing in several ways. First of all, only the privileged have access to this surgery. It is very hard to get insurance companies to pay for it. Someone close to me had the surgery, and she had to fight her insurers for years. She didn't get approved until she finally hired a lawyer.

So here comes Huckabee, hypocritically claiming to have lost all that weight through sheer willpower. He's setting himself up as a moral exemplar and hectoring the rest of us to exercise and change our diets. Yet he's not doing a thing to move us toward a nation where everyone has health insurance, and anyone who needs it can get the same surgery he had.

But it gets worse. Over the next decade, the politics of obesity are likely to become increasingly important, and heated. There is a lot of evidence that one thing driving our nation's obesity epidemic is agribusiness and the fast food industry run amok (see Joan Nestle's academic work for evidence of this, as well as Erik Schlosser's new book). Increasingly, have been calls to stop subsidizing these industries and start regulating them.

The food industry is scare shitless about this, and have stepped up a campaign to get across the message that obesity is the individual's own fault, something due solely to his/her sloth, gluttony, lack of discipline, etc. This ultra-individualist mantra fits in very well with the right's advocacy of the alleged "politics of personal responsibility." Huckabee's line -- "I did it all by myself, without any surgery, all through my own discipline and willpower" -- makes him, of course, the perfect tool for the food industry's interests, the perfect vehicle for getting across their message.

Finally, I will remind you that the food industry is very powerful in Arkansas, Huckabee's home state -- it's the home of Tyson Foods, fer chrissakes.

I mean, *you* do the math.

I think one of the weird features driving this is that Americans like politicians who are about something other than politics. We want them to be warm, familiar human beings who are a lot like us. Maybe it's because this makes it easier for us to project our personal beliefs and issue positions onto them. The weight loss thing sort of humanizes Huckabee, and that's part of how it works.

Ezra Klein's posted the same idea today ; funny Neil didn't say so. Huckabee doesn't do meeting budgetary guidelines very well, either.

Mr. Murder is right that the Wayne Dumond affair is and should be a nightmare political liability for Huckabee. Dumond's whole story is sad and messy. No one deserves what was done to him when he was first accused, and what he ended up doing after Huckabee let him out was reprehensible. A sad story all around, and one that was made all the sadder by Huckabee's attempts to play the hero rescuing an abused man from the nefarious Clinton Family Machine.

Dumond wasn't a victim. Clinton's relative was a high school cheerleader at the time she was attacked.

He deserved having his balls cut off. The man was a serial profile, and had a good bit of a criminal background before then. One background check would tell all they needed to know about him.

When he was first accused he turned state's evidence in Oklahoma over the beating death of a decorated veteran.

Don't even act like Wayne Dumond was some kind of victim.

The left fears Huckabee. With good reason. You can spew lies and innuendo all you like. Huckabee's "mystifying" rise as a presidential candidate is attributable to his sincerity, honesty, and fabulous executive experience record as a Governor. Your "mystification" is attributable to the fact that you are all so far outside the mainstream of American you don't even realize it. You must get your "news" from moon-bat websites. No doubt you were equally mystified by the resounding re-election of George Bush over John Kerry -- an outcome that surprised 80% of America not at all.

God bless, and see you in November.


Actually Huckabee as a presidential hopeful doesn't surprise me at all. He's a governor, which has historically been a more fruitful breeding ground for presidents than Congress; He's also a religious True Believer. Of the other GOP hopefuls, only Sam Brownback (albeit a new convert to Roman Catholicism and a member of Opus Dei) can lay claim to that. Of course, he's kinda homely looking and being from Arkansas, hasn't been a regular on the talk show circuit (like, say, George Allen). I doubt he'll get his party's nomination. But it wouldn't surprise me if he was a player two years from now.

Mr. Murder, anyone who is castrated by an angry mob is a victim. It's not like the fact that you've done terrible things suddenly authorizes any and every bad thing someone could want to do to you.

Too dufusy...but then Bush is president now, so I take that back.

I do think that Mike Huckabee could be a dark horse in the 2008 race because of the weight loss thing—imagine how that could play to the middle-of-the-road, somewhat apathetic voters who show up for presidential elections out of a sense of duty. Maybe they can't grasp the nuances of the candidates' positions on foreign policy or domestic issues ... but losing 100 pounds, that's something they can relate to and admire. It could resonate well with the Oprah crowd.

I don't think he'll get elected (or that he should), or even that he'll win the primary, but I wouldn't be surprised if he makes a strong-ish showing in the primary.

I took the Mick diet. Sensible eating and exercise has helped me lose over 115lbs!

Then stop refering to yourself as roly poly man.

While Huckabee is objectionable on many levels, particularly his lust for all the swag that public service has to offer, his record of governance in Arkansas is fairly moderate and certainly not the record that a Santorum or a Brownback would definitely have amassed. Huckabee might try to position himself as the evangelical candidate, but even his record in the Southern Baptist Convention was more toward the moderate end of that particularly scary group. In fact, Arkansas has Democrats, lots of them, who are to the right of Huckabee politically, and many of the far-right types in the state openly dislike him.

But the main point is largely correct--Mike Huckabee's chief accomplishment in ten years as governor of Arkansas has been to lose 100 pounds. His most memorable program is an insurance program for kids who previously would not have qualified for Medicaid, but providing insurance to the working poor is probably not going to help much in the Republican primaries.

Utter nonsense Mudkitty. Huckabee's record in Arkansas includes enormous infrastructure rebuilding (Interstates) all accomplshed on time and on budget. His record on educational reform and improvement in Arkansas is nothing short of stunning. He has led the state through many severe crises, and has been described by both the local and national media as being at his best during times of crisis. His record also includes many instances in which he took tremendously unpopular positions on issues because it was the RIGHT THING TO DO not the POLITICALLY EXPEDIENT thing to do (school consolidation, for example). In other words, he is a LEADER, not a politician. His record is the envy of every Governor in the country and America will soon be made aware of all of it.

Huckabee: "enormous infrastructure rebuilding (Interstates)"

Sorry Huck supporter. Interstate rebuilding was a FEDERAL project, not a state project. You better go back to Government 101 and learn that Ark's highway program is independent of the governor's office.

The main point to keep in mind is Huckabee was cited for violations FIVE times during his tenure for ETHICS violations. He may be cited again for his gift-grabbing in an attempt to get freebies for his new house.
He was doing his presidential campaigning on jet that belonged to Lord's Ranch, a business which contracts with the state to the tune of $8Million per year.
He may have shed the blubber but the greedy-grabbin dealin is still inside.

But when Clinton was governor, the pay was $25,000 a year. How did Huckabee manage a down payment on a $500,000+ house?

Back for a visit from archives searches.

Dumond had evidence presented in his sentencing that showed him to have been a serial rapist, who also murdered a vet in a public park using claw hammers. He turned states evidence in that one.

That's why he was given so outstanding an original sentence and his parole was contested by his conviction victim.

Huckabee dones't know what he's up to, but somewhat he mades me believe he can do it.

Okay, let me get this straight. This idiot felt sorry for a multiple rapist and helped him get out of jail and now he is running for president? And, he is surprised that when this multiple rapist was released from jail and went out and raped (and murdered) again? Isn't the definition of stupidity doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result?

Poor little picked on put upon rapist. Wah wah wah. What an ass. Let the druggies out early, they only hurt themselves. But, keep the rapists and molesters and murders and thieves and all the other people who hurt people in jail. Why can't our politicians understand that is what we want?

The Republicans are just doing a bang up job. I'm impressed (snarky grin).

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