Earlier today I mentioned that I’m of two minds about Huckabee: Dismayed by his attack on Bush in Foreign Affairs, but at the same time willing to admit that, if the good people of Iowa like him, there must be something to the man.
Trying to figure out what’s going on in the Hawkeye state, I spent a few moments just now looking over Huckabee’s campaign videos on YouTube. Without exception, they’re brilliant–brilliant. In the ads in which he himself appears, Huckabee is engaging, warm, relaxed, and persuasive; the best I can recall since the Gipper himself. And the “surrogate” or “third-party” ads are almost as good. The “Switch to Huckabee” series adopts the lightness and cleverness of recent Apple ads; they’re arresting, funny, hip. (That’s right. An ad about a Baptist preacher is hip.) And the ad entitled “It’s a Whole New Race” manages to be amusing and devastating all at once. Incomparably the finest ad of the season, “It’s a Whole New Race” amounts to something a lot like a work of political genius.
In a big, well-funded campaign, like that of Romney or Giuiliani, I might give credit for such ads to the paid consultants. But Huckabee’s campaign is so tiny, and so desperate for funds, that these ads simply have to reflect the candidate himself–his sense of the political moment, his knowledge of the most effective ways of presenting his message, his delight in humor. The guy is good.
Will Huckabee fizzle after Iowa? Don’t count on it.