Maybe Mike Huckabee "lost it" because of fallout from his appearance on an MSNBC program. The former Arkansas governor's smiling countenance was on "Morning Joe" recently.
"Joe" is Joe Scarborough who hosts an early-morning show weekdays on MSNBC. It's a network with a reputation for being left-leaning.
Huckabee did more than make a fleeting appearance. He sat right in with Joe's panel and projected a sense of rapport with them.
I suspect that many conservatives don't quite know what to make of "Morning Joe." It's on a network with a liberal brand but it's hosted by the self-professed conservative Joe Scarborough. He's a former Republican congressman from Florida.
He calls his show a "safe zone" (politically) because all are made to feel welcome - right and left-leaning thinkers. The only prerequisite is that you actually think.
But so strident are the conservatives of today, at least those who seem to define the movement, I don't think they trust it. So I think Huckabee was thrown back on his heels after his recent guest appearance there.
What followed were some seriously gaffe-ridden statements by Huckabee on the radio. Was he trying to bend over backwards after his appearance on "Morning Joe?" Did he fear being seen as "fraternizing with the enemy (MSNBC)?"
Being on "Joe" shouldn't have mattered, of course. I'm sure Huckabee is intelligent enough to realize he can speak openly with opinion-makers of all stripes.
But as a Republican he needs to be aware of this huge hissing snake in the room with him. It's the paranoid tea party element in his party. In the old days it was the John Birch Society.
These people aren't necessarily stupid. But they have profound fears about the reach of government that make them irrational. I'd also suggest they seem to fear the future. History is never on their side.
There's another element at work here and it's worse than the snake. It's a rat that needs to be poisoned ASAP. It's racism.
Huckabee is from the southern state of Arkansas. This along with his need to appease the tea partiers caused him to become unhinged in the past week. This is my theory or allegation.
Huckabee didn't just put his toe in the stew of irrational thought from the right, he fell right off the dock. He's marginalized now, whether he fully realizes it or not. He ought to just stay in the south and salute the Confederate flag.
The particular stew that Huckabee fell into, is "birtherism."
Many observers are astounded by the extent to which Huckabee "lost it." He had seemed more temperate and reasonable, even with a sense of humor, than many of his conservative comrades. He hosts a weekend program on Fox News that seems like a combination of the old "Firing Line" and "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson."
Fox News is an absolute refuge for the righties. When Huckabee migrated out of there to "Morning Joe" (Scarborough), an alarm bell may have rung for many of his comrades. "Is this man a turncoat? Is this a man we can trust?"
In reality, "Morning Joe" is the most agreeable political talk show you can imagine. (I'd say "on the dial" but we don't use dials anymore.)
The rapport between Scarborough and sidekick Mika Brzezinski (daughter of Zbigniew Brzezinski) is like the old Carson and Ed McMahon rapport. This kind of chemistry has to come naturally. Usually one of the two has to be submissive to the other. Mika doesn't mind this.
But she doesn't mind making a pointed statement from the left once in a while. She's very intelligent while at the same time being rather sultry and seductive - quite a combination.
Willie Geist is on Joe's panel too. Willie even hosts his own program, "Way Too Early," for a half-hour before "Joe" starts. On "Morning Joe" he's another good second banana, just like Mika. He used to joke about "drunks on the west coast" watching TV so early, but he has backed off from that. Alcohol-inspired humor is so 1970s.
Mike Barnicle adds his own dose of wry insightfulness.
If you want to get up earlier than Willie's show, there's "First Look" on MSNBC. When I was a kid at that hour, you might not even get the test pattern yet.
My dog insists I get up early most mornings, so I take in a lot of that MSNBC fare. The dog is hungry. He doesn't care what Mike Huckabee is up to.
The governor, in the days following his "Morning Joe" appearance, went on an absolute tear with falsehoods about Barack Obama's background, appealing to the true backwater of his party. But then I'll confess to a little prejudice and admit I've always considered Arkansas a backwater state. I think of the movie "Deliverance."
I actually felt sad about Huckabee's rant. He's currently promoting his book entitled "Simple Government." Too bad he's such a simple-minded person. His stock dropped to zero with me. He can stay in his refuge of Fox News but outside of that, he'll have to step lightly because he has the recognizable spots of a right wing ignoramus.
Either that or the "southernor" in him springs out. Tragedy, if true.
I really hate to even regurgitate the specifics of what he said. Let's just say he gave the "birthers" a huge gift. It's a gift that won't get them anywhere because lies never get you anywhere. But it makes them feel good for a while.
Many moderate thinking people had thought Huckabee was OK. We thought maybe he's a Republican with the ability to listen and be gentle and reasonable. Alas those attributes might not get you anywhere in today's Republican party.
I think even Tim Pawlenty recognizes that. Pawlenty seems to be reaching out to the most regressive factions.
And to think that Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann come from the state of Hubert Humphrey and Paul Wellstone. This isn't the Deep South. We have educated, reasonable, temperate and patient people here.
The impulsive reactionaries of the Deep South ought to be foreign to us. Let them bathe in their stew. They have a history of losing. They lost the big one: the Civil War. The Dixiecrats got knocked on their a--.
Let them enjoy their little culture of the way they feel America ought to be. One of those qualities is white. Let it continue to be a dream world for them while the nation gets on to its real business.
The likes of Huckabee can sell a few books and just move on. Who'd want to spend money for a book like that anyway?
Huckabee made a decision of being on "Morning Joe" and he should have been happy about it. He seemed happy on the air. I'd sure be happy being on a TV show where I could sit next to Mika.
Maybe Huckabee later decided he should be on a different show, maybe "Ozzie and Harriet." That's the fantasy America he desires.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org