Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Not Walking The Talk

Striking writers outside the Burbank, Calif. studios of NBC. (Photo: Ric Francis/Associated Press)

Last week, it was Huckabee's mistakes about Pakistan. Just three weeks earlier, it was his ignorant blunders about the NIE on Iran which he blamed his failure "to keep up on every little thing, from Britney to 'Dancing with the Stars'" to being on the campaign trail.

Now he's showing us his plain ignorance about the status of the writer's strike (it's not over, 'dimples'), as well as proper recognition of striking employees whom you claim to "support" - You don't cross their picket line!

The New York Times'-blog reports:
Former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas today professed his support for the striking television writers union just a few hours before he was expected to board a plane for a taping of the Jay Leno show where he will face a vocal picket line of striking writers.

Mr. Leno’s program is returning to the air for the first time since a long hiatus for the strike. Speaking to reporters, Mr. Huckabee said he was unaware that he would be crossing picket lines and believed that the program had reached a special agreement with the union.
Although crossing picket lines might not be unusual for most Republican candidates, Mr. Huckabee has waged an unusual populist campaign on economic issues, stressing his empathy with the anxieties of working people. On Wednesday, he said he identified with the striking television workers as an author himself and believed they deserved a share of the proceeds from the sale of their work.

Mr. Huckabee’s inconsistency about the picket lines outside the Leno show are the latest in a string of missteps that have underscored the ad-hoc, on-the-fly nature of his insurgent campaign. Last week, he made a series of small misstatements about Pakistan that raised questions about his fluency in matters of foreign affairs and raised eyebrows when he suggested applying special scrutiny to Pakistanis at the borders in the interest of national security. Then, he reversed a pledge to avoid attacking his opponent, Mitt Romney, and two days ago reversed himself again to renounce those attacks.

On Wednesday, Mr. Huckabee appeared to edge back once again toward explicit swipes at his opponent. Asked by a reporter about Mr. Romney’s roughly $17 million in personal loans to his campaign, Mr. Huckabee asked how voters could expect understanding of their problems from a candidate who “writes checks for tens of millions of dollars and doesn’t miss the money?”

In a stump speech in Fort Dodge, Iowa, Mr. Huckabee did not name Mr. Romney but made veiled references to his opponent. Alluding to Mr. Romney’s professed change of heart on abortion rights, Mr. Huckabee said he was a candidate whose views in the issue did not change depending on polls or where he was running.

“You want someone who is authentic, you want someone who is consistent, you want someone who can lead,” Mr. Huckabee said.

“Some of us come to you with the views that we had because they are convictions not political conveniences,” he said later in Mason City, Iowa.

“Wouldn’t it be something if the people of Iowa proved that they cannot be bought?” he said, alluding to Mr. Romney’s heavy spending on the campaign.

Speaking to reporters, he said he expected his appearance on the Jay Leno show to reach more Iowa voters than a day of appearances to crowds of a few hundred each. He said he planned to fly back to Iowa by the end of the day, spending as little time as possible out of the state. He is continuing to wage his Iowa campaign largely from the airwaves of national television, beginning Wednesday with three morning television interviews before boarding a bus for two appearances on the stump.

Episodes like these offer candidates unique opportunities to own the moment by sucking all of the oxygen out of the air (waves) with a grand gesture (or stunt).

If I was on Huckabee's staff and advising him, I wouldn't let him go into NBC's studios. I'd have him stand on the street with the picketers (after clearing it with the WGA) and get Leno to wire him up for a remote interview. I'd focus the interview on the striking writers, working Americans, quality television, and have some prearranged gag that the writers had prepared. Something like this:

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