Yikes, We're Gonna Be Hucked
By: Mark W Adams

Cross Posted at The American Street

I watched Huckabee on Leno Wednesday night, and can tell you why he outperformed expectations in the Iowa caucus. If this guy manages to do the impossible, buck the GOP moneyed elite and withstand the onslaught of the entrenched conservative noise machine led by Limbaugh and Hannity, get outspent 25 to one, and still win the Republican nomination -- we're fucked.

He can take Edwards' populist message to a more authentic level with one story about his wife and him living in a double-wide trailer, and call out the same corporate lobbyists on their crap without the fighting words all the Broderites tell us liberals will always doom our cause.

He's soft-spoken, natural, and speaks of unity and ending our divides between right and left (moving up, vertically instead of horizontally) in a way captures the essence of Obama's recurrent uniter theme without sounding like a college professor, but a father-confessor.

And he not only was born in Hope, Arkansas, but was raised there, lived there most of his life -- unlike Hillary's hubby whose family moved to Hot Springs when Bubba was seven. And the dude can jam, but wisely forgoes the Blues Brothers' shades when he straps on his guitar. And while he embodies the "everyman" qualities Bill Clinton personified, he lacks that calculated guile Hillary Clinton oozes, which is both her strongest quality and her perpetual curse. (It's great that she has it, lousy that we know about it.)

Yep, Huckabee is stupid, dangerously so, but doesn't come off that way. He doesn't know squat about foreign policy and claims he didn't think he was crossing any picket lines by appearing on the Leno show. He's got a seriously flawed tax scheme, is one dumb joke short of being a gay basher, and is willing to hold up major disaster relief legislation because he doesn't think his boss should be blamed for Acts of God.

However, you never see him hesitate as he talks. He avoids those annoying vocal segregates you use when thinking of what you're going to say next (“aah”, “um” “uh-huh”) that even a crisp litigator slips into -- like John Edwards does habitually which makes him sound hesitant and uncertain when he interjects the word, "aahhnd" every other sentence. I guess this is where the communication degree balances my political science studies.

Style does matter. It sucks, but it's true. Wearing a goofy helmet or baby-blue bunny smock leaves an impression, even more so in a YouTube world. Speaking style, a graceful natural intonation has taken Barack Obama far indeed, which makes the substance of his message resonate in a way that Hillary tries, but fails, because it always seems like she's trying and not just doing. She needs to learn to just ... be. Barack does that, so does Huckabee. Edwards could if he wasn't trying to cover up a stutter.

Most of what any speaker communicates is non-verbal, and leaves an inarticulable impression on the listener/viewer. Often this impression is completely wrong, as people who stutter learn to use these vocal segregate devices as a way to control an even worse delivery -- yet they sometimes sound like they are trying to convince themselves as well as you. It's what got me through my college speech and debate team competitions as a former stutterer, so I know. It's the lessor of two evils.

You gotta dress the part too, look like a president, which Mitt Romney has spent about eight million bucks doing from the looks of him. Giuliani is running a campaign strictly on some tough-guy cred. He has to, the guy walks and talks like a thug. That's all he's got. The days when John McCain and Fred Thompson could pull off the illusion of inspirational leader have passed them by. Think Ronald Reagan in his second term, without an entourage of image-consultants to keep them looking the part.

Huckabee doesn't give the great, inspirational sermons Obama can crank out, but he can engage in conversation and not just parrot talking points, string two sentences together and make sense, tell a joke that gets laughs and not just a wince and nod, and comes across (as he says) more like the guy you work with than the one who laid you off. Already that makes him more than qualified for the position than the current resident, even after seven years of on-the-job training.

The more I learn about Mike Huckabee and what he stands for, the more I don't like him -- that he would be a disastrously impossible follow-up to the current fiasco. He stands for crackpot solutions to the very real problems his party has created. The more I see and hear him however, the more I know we're in for yet another fight for our lives come next fall if he's the GOP nominee.

He comes across "genuine." A genuine "what" is irrelevant, at least to the likes of Russert, Blitzer, Scarborough and Chris Matthews. The professional courtiers known as the Washington Press Corps live for those moments they can find a rich, unbelievably ambitious, narcissistic empty suit and tell us "He's one of you!"

You see, those of us who quest for information have a desire to learn. But there are more people who value action over knowledge, impressions over information, and are unconsciously more moved by style over substance in our American culture. The proof of this is that someone as utterly incompetent as George W. Bush got to the point where he is (thankfully) term limited, having fooled the voters enough to even make it close enough to steal, twice.

Mike Huckabee has a natural, comfortable ability to deliver more bad ideas than Bush ever dreamed.