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The Huckabee image gets a reality check

August 31, 2007 | 10:35 pm

If nice folks do indeed finish last, Republican Mike Huckabee might as well end his presidential campaign right now. Assuming, of course, that he truly is, as the Washington Post characterized him in a lengthy feature story on Friday, an "affable, compassionate, good guy."

The Post piece was simply the latest to chime in with the common chord being struck by many when discussing the former Arkansas governor.

Back in mid-June, in a prescient South Carolina newspaper article that tabbed Huckabee as a candidate worth watching in the White House race, the state's GOP chairman, Katon Dawson, termed him one of the "nicest and kindest" politicians he had known. Newsday's James Pinkerton, in a recent column headlined "Huckabee: a Republican who can lead us back home," wrote that the candidate "comes across as a nice guy." Democrat Barack Obama, during his appearance last week on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," opined that Huckabee seemed "sincere and decent" (you can see the entire segment here).

It's gotten to the point that a Newsweek takeout on him asserted that he's "too nice to be president" (the problem--lots of Republicans fear he's not mean enough to deal with Hillary Clinton in a general election face-off).

We've enjoyed Huckabee's presence in the presidential scrum as much as anyone (if for no other reason than that he's the only candidate who even attempts an impersonation of the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards). But when the chorus of coverage begins singing the same song, it's always good to hear a discordant voice. And one came along this week from John Brummett, a veteran observer of Arkansas politics.

Casting a bemused eye on the national image congealing around Huckabee, Brummett wrote that among those who would be surprised by the adjectives he's invoking is ex-Sen. Dale Bumpers. Huckabee, in unsuccessfully challenging the Democratic incumbent in 1992, aired ads that "characterized Bumpers as a pornographer," based on Senate votes supporting the National Endowment for the Arts, Brummett noted.

And there's also "the editor of the liberal local weekly, the Arkansas Times, which found itself cut off from routine notifications ... by Huckabee's taxpayer-provided press office."

It's a column well-worth reading. And one that shouldn't shock. Given that Huckabee thrived in Arkansas politics (he held the governor's office for more than 10 years), he couldn't have been Mr. Nice Guy all the time.

-- Don Frederick

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