Perhaps Huckabee is riding the upward slope of the conventional narrative typical favored by political reporting - they build a candidate up and then tear him/her down - but it seems Huckabee is getting a free pass from the political chatting class, especially from liberals. The first sign I saw of this warm-and-fuzzy treatment was in a recent column by the otherwise acerbic and keen-sighted Hendrik Hertzberg.
To all appearances, Huckabee’s gentle rhetoric is a reflection of temperament, not a stylistic tactic. Arkansans caution that he is capable of churlishness. But his history suggests that he prefers consensus to confrontation, that he regards government as a tool for social betterment, and that he has little taste for war, cultural or otherwise. He seems to regard liberalism not as a moral evil, a mental disease, or a character flaw—merely as a political point of view he mostly disagrees with. That may not seem like much, but it makes a nice change. If talk radio hears about it, though, it might be enough to keep him from the top of the ticket.
Hertzberg has a point. Having watched Huckabee in several interviews and a few debates, I come away charmed, too. All the more reason to be wary, however. Go back eight years when another religious right wing candidate suckered the national press into treating him with kid gloves while savaging his liberal opponent. I was not Al Gore fan then, and voted for the nebbish consumer crusader, but even then I could tell Bush was a far more loathesome, incompetent and nefarious individual than he was credited at the time.