One of the principal benefits of Mike Huckabee’s campaign is that he’s managed to reach the top tier of the Republican field with almost no scrutiny at all. But there’s a downside --now that the race has reached crunch time, and Huckabee is a credible challenger for the nomination, all of the scrutiny comes at once.
The question, then, is how Huckabee responds to the pressure, and handles unpleasant questions. So far, I think he’s struggling pretty badly.
This week, for example, Huckabee was asked for his thoughts about the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, arguably the biggest foreign policy news in months, if not the year. Huckabee said he’d never heard of it. This morning, on MSNBC, he tried to rationalize his ignorance.
“Well, I don’t blame my staff. It is a situation where a report was released at 10:00 in the morning, the president hadn’t seen it in four years and I’m supposed to see it four hours later.”
That’s utter nonsense, and actually makes Huckabee look even dumber. As Kevin Drum explained, “The NIE was released Monday morning. He was asked about it Tuesday evening. That’s two days. Two days in which the NIE was on the front page of every newspaper; it was blanketing cable TV, talk radio, and the blogosphere; and the president of the United States addressed its conclusions in a press conference. It was blockbuster news on one of the most important foreign policy issues of the campaign and Huckabee didn’t even know about it.”
The phrase “not ready for prime-time” was practically custom made for a guy like this.