The Upshot’’s Nate Cohn is making the contrarian case for Mike Huckabee. I give him credit for seeing things that others might not, but—despite the optimistic headline: “Mike Huckabee Would Be a More Important Candidate Than You Might Think,” he actually underestimates Huck’s potential as a disruptive factor in this campaign.
It’s unclear what’s in the water in Hope, Arkansas, but that Bill Clinton and Huck are both from the same hamlet is nothing short of miraculous. Put aside the snake oil salesman stuff, and the numerous ridiculous things Huckabee has said to get attention, and you’re left with a man who is essentially the love child of Clinton and Ronald Reagan. I recently argued that only the great politicians like The Gipper and Bubba can oscillate between indignation and compassion. Well, guess what: Huckabee can do both, too. This is a guy who’s so compelling he actually got Jon Stewart to question his own abortion stance.
“I’m a conservative; I’m just not mad about it,” he often quips. Except he can be mad about it—or feign anger, at least. So he can play the reasonable conservative or he can hurl red meat. As they say in football, he can play both sides of the ball. In 2008, Huckabee came out of nowhere to wow us in the debates. The competition will be stiffer this time around, but he can do it again.