The 2016 narrative the mainstream press wants to write is "vigorous, appealingly frattish young Republican with lots of new ideas and a modern outlook reinvigorates his party and defeats tired old Democratic crone and her past-expiration-date liberal ideas." That's meant to apply to Paul, Rubio, Ryan, Walker, or possibly a dark horse such as John Kasich. The 2016 narrative the mainstream press would settle for is "seasoned, avuncular, experienced, yet still youthful and vigorous Republican with a gratifyingly moderate outlook defeats tired old," etc., etc. -- that one's meant to apply to Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney.
This, however, could complicate efforts to write either of those stories throughout the 2016 campaign:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee ... is reconnecting with activists and enlisting staff to position himself in a growing field of potential Republican presidential candidates.
This week, Huckabee is leading more than 100 pastors and GOP insiders from early primary states on a 10-day overseas trip with stops in Poland and England.
Huckabee's newly formed non-profit advocacy group, America Takes Action, has begun to serve as an employment perch for his political team, recently bringing on a number of experienced campaign operatives.
Advisers are already scouting real estate in Little Rock, Ark., for a possible presidential campaign headquarters.
Huckabee is scheduled to spend part of November holding private meetings with powerful GOP financiers in Las Vegas, New York, and California, gauging their interest in being bundlers for his possible campaign and asking for pledges of five-to six-figure donations to his aligned organizations. And he is planning two strategy sessions in December, in Little Rock and Destin, Fla., near his new Gulf Coast home, to discuss timing, potential staffing, and an opening pitch to voters....
The folksy, Jesus-y Huckabee is the only candidate who's scored in double digits in every 2016 GOP poll in which he's appeared, according to Real Clear Politics. RCP's poll average has him in third place, a mere half a point behind Rand Paul and 0.3 points behind Jeb Bush; he's ahead of Christie, Cruz, Rubio, Perry, and the rest.
The press hates President Obama and Hillary Clinton now, but mainstream journalists still have some contempt for tea party craziness and religious right extremism. The press's workaround in 2014 was just to ignore the tea party craziness and religious right extremism of candidates such as Joni Ernst, Cory Gardner, and Thom Tillis.
Can the press do that with Huckabee? If he does run, unlike the 2014 candidates, he's going to wear his extremism on his sleeve. Maybe you haven't paid attention to him in a while, but this is Mike Huckabee now:
In an interview with Iowa-based conservative talk show host Steve Deace on Monday, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee repeated his recommendation that governors simply ignore the Supreme Court's decision to let stand lower court rulings legalizing marriage equality in several new states, adding that state governments should have also ignored Roe v. Wade and the Supreme Court rulings banning school-sponsored prayer....
Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas GOP governor-turned-Fox News host and radio personality, tore into Islam earlier this week, using a recent terror threat that put United States embassies on high alert to suggest that the Muslims were "uncorked animals," encouraged to be violent by the religion itself....
Mike Huckabee appeared on Monday's edition of Iowa-based Steve Deace's radio talk show, where he said President Obama "absolutely" deserves to be impeached but cautioned that Republicans should not pursue impeachment at this time since the GOP doesn’t have the votes to convict him in the Senate.
"There's no doubt that he has done plenty of things worthy of impeachment," Huckabee said.
Earlier in the show, Huckabee accused Obama of deliberately weakening border security and creating lawlessness....
Well, if he has strong showings in Iowa and South Carolina, the press will just pretend he doesn't talk like this. Instead, we'll get nonsense like this passage from the Washington Post story I quote at the top of this post:
An ordained Southern Baptist preacher with an easy-going demeanor, Huckabee presents himself as both a social conservative and an economic populist....
[2008 campaign manager Chip] Saltsman, in an interview, said Huckabee would be a formidable opponent for the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton... He said Huckabee's "common touch" and his ability to talk about income inequality would contrast with Clinton.
... the main foundation for Huck’s reputation as an "economic populist" was his refusal in 2008 to emulate his Republican rivals' praise for the U.S. economy under the stewardship of George W. Bush as damn near ideal. For his pains he was attacked by the Club for Growth, which he began calling the "Club for Greed." If he took any actual positions that differed from conservative orthodoxy on economic issues, I missed it.
As for "income inequality...." I'd be interested in hearing what if anything Huck has to say. He's sure not in favor of more progressive taxation; he's a big "Fair Tax" guy, devoted to flattening tax rates and moving towards a consumption-based system that would inherently be more regressive. But more to the point, how media folk treat Huck may determine whether the "economic inequality" debate in 2016 is real or entirely symbolic.
Well, "media folk" are going to take every Republican's claim of economic populism seriously, because that's the narrative media folk want to write. So maybe they'll ignore even his most blatantly extreme pronouncements while he's still in the race, just because it will spoil the pre-written story. They'll assume (probably correctly) that he can't raise enough cash to compete in big, expensive primary states, which means he'll just go away sooner or later and leave the pre-written narrative intact. But things could get awkward for a while.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog
[Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey]