I could never quite put my finger on what was so troubling about the guy, however his sagging numbers rendered it a minor curiosity. But his sudden and stellar rise among the GOP's pack of Grim Reapers made it a trifle more disconcerting; and then, yesterday morning, appearing on "This Week," he cleared it up for me.
Mike Huckabee is a lying weasel. Sure, he'd have to be some measure of a lying weasel to make it in presidential politics, but Huckabee lies with an artfulness that would make Dick Nixon envious, and probably has Bill Clinton convinced that it comes from something in Hope, Ark.'s water. He's so damn good at it. You instinctively suspect he's lying as you listen to him, but his lying is so melded with nuggets of homey ingenuousness, the two become indistinguishable and fold into only the latter.
But yesterday he tripped himself up, right smack on national television.
Asked by George Stephanoupolos if the bizarrely evil Dick Morris is consulting the candidate, Huckabee hummed and hawed as though Morris was merely a passing acquaintance. "Dick’s one of the smartest political minds, as you well know," said Huckabee, describing Morris in a way in which the interviewer would likely differ, seeing that Stephanopoulos, in his White House memoirs (All Too Human), chose to characterize this smart political mind as a "small sausage of a man" with "the look of a B-movie mob lawyer" -- and, in Stephanoupolos' most succinct estimation, simply an "insincere prick."
Huckabee then kicked in gear the toothy grin and downhome, aw-shucks evasiveness: "I’ve known Dick for, gosh, almost, I guess, 18, 17 years.... But Dick is not available for doing political consulting work. Frankly, I wish he was, because he’s a brilliant political mind, and I still consider him a friend. I run into him from time to time, or I may talk to him. But I probably talk to 30, 40 journalists a week. Most of them I talk to more than I talk to Dick Morris, and I haven’t talked to him in a while."
Well, Nixon didn't "consult" with Donald Segretti or the White House Plumbers, either.
But Mike, you don't have to just "wish" that Morris were available for consulting work, because, as the Politico reports, your own staff says he is. In fact, Mike -- and this is indeed embarrassing for both of us, having to remind you like this -- the Politico says you've had "private conversations with Dick Morris, according to [your own] aides."
And the paper names them. "Here is what is known: Morris and Huckabee confer with one another, according to two top Huckabee advisers — campaign manager Chip Saltsman and [pollster and media consultant] Dick Dresner."
The latter of that staffing twosome seems less than happy about it. Said Dresner, "A lot of people think he’s a brilliant guy. But for every three ideas he has, one is brilliant, one will get you in jail and one is just a mess."
Already, Mike, welcome to the mess. Because Morris obviously asked you to keep a lid on your relationship -- since he bloviates for Fox News and scribbles for the New York Post; both without disclosing he's pimping for you -- and you were dumb enough to go along with his self-serving request.
Welcome, as well, to the big leagues, Mike. Your front-runner status in Iowa lasted all of about three minutes before you collapsed on national television into a tangled lie.
And now we also know who's behind those unctuous TV ads you're running that play the religion card against former front-runner Mitt Romney, who, if he's half as sly as he seems, will pounce on the issue of rancid religious bigotry that you and Dick Morris so blatantly handed him.
You were never much more than vice-presidential material for Rudy, and your answer on his latest scandal -- that the provable charges were but a "cheap shot" -- showed you're still shooting for pretty much just that.
And your stand on some of the issues -- such as favoring a constitutional amendment on marriage and the elimination of the income tax -- could be written off merely as everyday synaptic dysfunction, Republican-style, to survive the radical primaries.
Nevertheless for a while you had something going there with the smiling, joking, straight-talking, I'm-just-myself honesty shtick, which was deceptively refreshing. But you blew it in no time flat -- demonstrating on national television that you're just another lying weasel.