Thanks to the screenwriters' strike, Jay Leno needs a joke writer, and thanks to his good sense being on strike, Mike Huckabee is fast becoming a joke. Put them together, and what do you get? Huckabee making a guest appearance on the Tonight Show this evening.
The timing for Huckabee to meet Hollywood -- the eve of the Iowa caucus -- may seem strange even for this most unconventional of candidates. But in a way it makes sense.
Huckabee's most notable news bites of late have been foreign policy gaffes punctuated by paraleipsis (thanks to Bill Bennett for that SAT word!). The former Arkansas governor's most recent IHOP insights were first to apologize for former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination, then to betray his ignorance as to whether Pakistan is under martial law, and finally to argue that America needs more border security for that invisible horde of illegal Pakistani immigrants. His paraleipsis -- defined as a "rhetorical device of emphasizing [some]thing by omitting it or mentioning it only cursorily" -- was earlier to assert that Mitt Romney's Mormonism shouldn't matter (even as Huck asked a New York Times Magazine reporter whether Mormons really ‘‘believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?’’), followed by a New Year's Eve press conference at which he played a negative ad against Romney that the man from Hope hopes he won't have to air. (Who needs to pay for media placement of negative advertisements when the evening news casts will show them for free?)
So a trip to the Tonight Show may be just what the Huckster needs to clear the air in Iowa of his stench. After all, it worked well twenty years ago for the last Arkansas Governor who needed a makeover with the national public. After the 1988 Democratic Convention, Bill Clinton played the saxophone on Johnny Carson's show and made everyone forget how disastrously long winded his speech had been for delegates who started to chatter loudly amongst themselves while he was still at the podium. If Clinton could use a late-night television appearance to resurrect himself from a more-boring-than-Michael-Dukakis grave, then maybe a Baptist preacher could use some of the same type of electoral salvation, though Huckabee's sins may be unpardonable with voters.