It’s something of an understatement to say that Mike Huckabee, now leading polls in Iowa, has a national security problem.
This is from a CBS News story covering the former Arkansas governor in Des Moines last Tuesday:
Now a reporter was asking Huckabee about the National Intelligence Estimate report, which had found that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program four years ago. The report had been front-page news, and it seemed likely to transform the rhetoric about Iran coming from the presidential candidates.
Huckabee, to the surprise of the reporters gathered around him, was unfamiliar with the report.
This coming Sunday’s New York Times magazine will feature a cover story by Zev Chafets on Huckabee that offers troubling insight into gaffes like the one above. Asked about his foreign policy credentials, Huckabee’s response sounds more like a puffed up on-line dating profile than the CV of a future commander-in-chief: “In his defense, Huckabee mentioned that as governor, he had visited ‘‘35 or 40 countries,’’ where he sometimes “negotiated trade deals.”
When Chafets asked him what thinkers influenced him on foreign affairs, the first name mentioned was columnist Thomas Friedman—not so much a strategist as a well-meaning hand-wringer, ever-hopeful on the sidelines. (Friedman himself recently admitted, “My Iraq crystal ball stopped working a long time ago. I’m taking this one step at a time.”) Then, in an ideological 180, Huckabee mentioned Center for Security Policy founder Frank Gaffney.
Mike Huckabee is coming out of Iowa riding a policy-free wave. If he keeps trying to do national security every way and no way at once, he’ll roll into McCain-friendly New Hampshire on a mere ripple.