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Is Mike Huckabee a right-wing huckster or a serious candidate?

Mike. Mike. Mike. Mike. What DAY is it?

This refers not to Geico’s camel commercial about hump day but to Mike Huckabee, the guitar-playing former Baptist preacher who has taken to criticizing others’ religious beliefs all the time, not just on Sunday.

We are assessing former Arkansas governor Huckabee in our quest for a qualified GOP presidential nominee. Huckabee has given up his lucrative Fox show, which enabled him to build a sumptuous Florida water-front estate in addition to his Arkansas home. He has tweeted 4,196 times! He has written a book called God, Guns, Grits and Gravy.

On Fox and Friends the other day he lit into President Obama:

“Everything he does is against what Christians stand for, and he’s against the Jews in Israel. The one group of people that can know they have his undying, unfailing support would be the Muslim community. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the radical Muslim community or the more moderate Muslim community.”

It’s one thing to criticize the president’s artless remarks about the Crusades and Christian violence centuries ago. Obama is correct that great evil was perpetrated in the name of Christianity hundreds of years ago when civilization barely existed. Yet for Obama to compare that and Christian support of slavery to the horrors that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is perpetrating today was stupid in light of today’s politics.

But it’s quite another thing for a man like Huckabee who says he wants to be president and a statesman on the world stage to charge the president of the United States with acting willfully against Christians and Jews in favor of radical Islamists. That is petrifyingly false and irresponsible.

We got to know and like Huckabee for his sense of humor, his battle to lose weight, his warmth and ease in connecting with people and what seemed to be his straight-shooting honesty. Were we misled?

Huckabee’s spewing of nonsense about Obama indicates the TV talk show host apparently is not sincere about running to be president but may be merely attempting to further his career. That is his career portraying an artful dodger of reality and a right-wing huckster who will get an even bigger salary out of Fox or another network down the road.

Obama is a church-going Christian who speaks as a believer. He has the support of half of all Americans. The country will not elect a Huckabee who spreads hyperbolic falsehoods and does not live up to the Christian principles he says he espouses. Obama is legitimately vulnerable to a great deal of criticism on a great many issues but is certainly no supporter of radicalism or terrorism.

Huckabee also has suggested the legal fight for gay rights parallels Nazi lies told to gain power. We are stupefied.

On the same day Huckabee’s self-censor button failed, he ridiculed Obama’s contention that climate change is future earth’s most dangerous threat. “I assure you that a beheading is much worse than a sunburn, and this president couldn’t watch a western from the ‘50s and know the difference between the good guys and the bad guys,” Huckabee said. Cute.

People snowed under in Boston, farmers fighting drought and flooded out coastal homeowners might not find Huckabee funny.

Our nation is polarized beyond workability. We don’t debate; we yell and vilify. If someone is not with us, they’re not only against us but rotten to the core.

Hence, the disappointment with Huckabee, who had a chance to be a voice of reason and a paragon of civility. He might have wooed us with music and gentle words but blew it.

Imagine the Republican debates! As in 2012, candidates will shred each other into unrecognizable pieces. We can only imagine the terrible things Huckabee will conjure up about Jeb Bush or Scott Walker or any of the others who will be on the stage. If he gets that far.

Sadly, our search for a GOP standard bearer continues.

Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at

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