Fun While It Lasted
Friday, October 26, 2007; 11:13 AM
The Mike Huckabee boomlet has run, by my precise scientific count, for four or five days now.
Just long enough to trigger a counterreaction.
Couldn't let that one get out of hand.
Pundits on the left have bestirred themselves to challenge pundits on the right who are writing sympathetically about the former Arkansas governor, with the collective message: You can't be serious.
So a faint tide in favor of Huck, so mild that 99.9 percent of Americans remain blissfully unaware of it, may be swamped by an anti-Huck wave, before anyone even notices.
My view of the Huckabee hype is fairly simple: Reporters have run out of things to say about Hillary, Barack, Rudy, Mitt and the gang. Every conceivable story has been written, from cleavage to laughter to multiple marriages, and it's only October. We need a dark horse to shake up the race. Reporters like Huckabee. So he becomes the flavor du jour.
While the country breathlessly waits to learn whether Huckabee can enter the mythical top tier, the New Republic's Noam Scheiber analyzes the boomlet:
"I'm hardly one for media conspiracies. (In fact, to paraphrase Sarah Silverman: as a member of the media, I'm really concerned that we're losing control over world events . . . ) But I find all this talk about how we suddenly have a five-way race for the GOP nomination--Mike Huckabee being the latest addition--a bizarre artifact of the way the media covers presidential politics . . .
"My cynical theory (which at best only partially explains what's going on):
"1.) The beginning of what should have been a Huckabee boomlet in August happened way out in Ames, Iowa, while the beginning of the actual Huckabee boomlet this past weekend took place in Washington, DC, making it a lot easier for journalists, pundits, and bloggers to cover--and, er, create. (Though, in fairness, a lot of journalists trekked to Ames.)
"2.) Perhaps more importantly, the results of Ames weren't announced until fairly late in the evening--8 o'clock or so if I recall--which was well after most MSM reporters had written their stories for the following day. (Many simply went back and inserted a few lines or a paragraph about Huckabee into stories that trumpeted Romney's first-place victory, which was easily foreseen.) On the other hand, Huckabee's speech last Saturday at the Values Voters summit happened around 11, and the result of the event's straw poll were announced just after 3, leaving reporters with plenty of time to write about the reaction to Huckabee's speech and his performance in the balloting.
"3.) Finally, because the first event was in Ames, which most reporters promptly departed, and the second was in Washington, where many reporters, pundits, and bloggers either live, work, or both, the media was able to soak in the afterglow of Huckabee's performance this weekend, to chat about it with others who had witnessed it, and to therefore magnify it in their coverage in subsequent days."