Mike Huckabee ambled onto the stage and was handed a bass guitar, which he played with retiring charm through a version of “Sweet Home Alabama.” With his black button eyes and relaxed smile, Huckabee has an appealing face that might make one think of an older brother of Kevin Spacey. Last Thursday night he was tieless but cuff-linked, and, remarkably for a man who’d made a strong showing in last year’s Republican primaries, completely unpolitical. He leaves that part, of course, for his Fox News Network show.
On his own Web site, where Huckabee, the former Arkansas chief executive, is referred to as Governor Huckabee, his daily itinerary is listed for events secular and religious, although the Angelus Temple appearance was not mentioned. A former Baptist minister, Huckabee is an accomplished speaker, which explains why he transmitted so well to the GOP faithful last year, as well as to television audiences. This, even though he is known to deliver Bob Dole–like barbs that often sound mean-spirited.
“Some of you are too young to remember Jeffrey Dahmer,” he offered, amiably enough, when beginning a chapter of his talk about the levels of sin. As the evening wore on, it was plain that in his view, people far less conflicted than Dahmer will find themselves in hell. Huckabee’s name is always included in discussions about potential Republican presidential contenders in 2012, but it’s hard to fathom how seriously people — himself included — take his chances. Last night, however, he was only concerned with getting into heaven, and told his rapt listeners how it’s not the pious who’ll necessarily get there, but those whom people would never suspect of having a chance. But here, perhaps, he was covertly speaking less about the world’s Jeffrey Dahmers and more of his own White House opportunities.
Even the two parables Huckabee used, like Matthew Barnett’s, revolved around himself. They both involved airports (in one story a woman confused him with Bob Dole) and showed Huckabee being humbled by events.
“The sin of being good,” Huckabee told his listeners, “is sometimes worse than the sin of being bad.”
“Wow,” said several congregants. And with that, Huckabee was gone, leaving us to wait four years to ponder his political resurrection.