Huckabee, Iran and Britney Spears

Why follow foreign policy when you can watch "Dancing With the Stars"?

By Tim Grieve
January 2, 2008 7:05PM (UTC)
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We begin 2008 with Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and his sermon on the First Rule of Holes: When you're in one, stop digging.

If your memory can take you way back to 2007, you'll recall that Huckabee was asked on the night of Dec. 4 about the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. The NIE had dominated the news for roughly 36 hours at that point, but Huckabee said he'd never heard of it.


Reporter: Have you been briefed or been able to take a look at it?

Huckabee: No.

Reporter: Have you heard of the finding?

Huckabee: No.

That was bad, but it wasn't entirely inexcusable, at least on Huckabee's part. His staff should have made sure he was briefed on the NIE, and that it didn't said more about the state of Huckabee's campaign than about the state of his knowledge of or interest in foreign affairs.


Or so we were inclined to think until we read what Huckabee told former Salon staffer Michael Scherer Saturday. In an interview with Scherer for Time, Huckabee claimed, falsely, that the NIE had come out the same day that he was first asked about it and declared that he thought it was "a little bit ridiculous to talk about it."

"A little bit ridiculous"? In expressing a high degree of confidence that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, the NIE single-handedly changed the national debate most of us had been having about the prospect of war with Iran. If it's "a little bit ridiculous" to talk about that, what does Huckabee think would have been a not-so-ridiculous subject for discussion?

The Quad-City Times, coming to us via Think Progress, offers a clue. When the paper asked Huckabee Monday about his earlier lack of knowledge about the NIE, he made a joke about George W. Bush's lack of knowledge about intelligence, then said that the reporter who asked him about the report back in December was guilty of launching "an ambush question," then repeated his mischaracterization of the NIE-to-question timeline, then said this:


"The point I'm trying to make is that, on the campaign trail, nobody's going to be able, if they've been campaigning as hard as we have been, to keep up with every single thing, from what happened to Britney last night to who won 'Dancing With the Stars.'"

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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2008 Elections Iran Middle East Mike Huckabee War Room