Wednesday, July 18, 2007

EDITORIALS>>Huck runs short of cash

Our favorite son candidate for president, according to the federal campaign-finance reports filed over the weekend, has now raised enough money to mount a creditable race for state land commissioner.

Mike Huckabee and his spokespeople had not put a spin on the calamitous figure ($1.3 million total for the campaign) yesterday, but we imagine that it will be that money should not be the measurement of a person’s capacity to be president.
And he will be right. Money is a measurement of two things: the degree to which the candidate adopts a philosophy that is beneficial to groups with large sums to spend on politics and the prospect that these groups and millions of smaller ones and individuals assign to the candidate’s success at winning nomination.

Gov. Huckabee has done his best on the first count by embracing ideas about taxes and government regulation that are supposed to make these groups giddy over future riches if he is elected.

Over the weekend, he was the first candidate to get ahead of the pack and attack “Sicko,” the Michael Moore film on national health insurance, which by all rights should land him some fat checks from big Pharma and the insurance industry.

But he is not doing so well on the second score. The movers do not think he has a prayer of winning the Republican nomination despite his clever bon mots in the debates and the sharp elbows that he can throw at opponents. Huckabee made fun of Michael Moore’s weight — imagine that! — in his dig at the film.

He is better than all the second-tier candidates of either party at getting free air time, mainly the talk and comedy shows.
He will drop any commitment to get a couple of minutes on Jon Stewart, the Colbert Report, Don Imus or Hannity and Colmes. But all that has done is get him listed first when any news report mentions the also-rans.

Polls still barely pick him up.

The best strategy in these circumstances, although usually a loser, is to make the lack of campaign gifts a badge of honor: “I will not be beholden to any special interests. I will enter office a free man who can work for you and not the big dogs.”
It is the Rockefeller strategy. The political Rocke-fellers did not need anybody’s money, and they actually were untethered and most of them populists, like the elder Winthrop Rockefeller in Arkansas, who championed a better deal for workers, minorities and the poor.

If Mike Huckabee is going to become a populist, he has a big, big makeover coming.
Maybe more than he and his little team of handlers can pull off. At this point, what can he lose?