Here's the saddest media strategy imaginable for a floundering Republican presidential candidate — or for that matter, any human being anywhere, ever — trying to boost your image with a cut-rate Donald Trump shtick. Mike Huckabee, you proved Tuesday evening that your awfulness is truly boundless.
The 60 year-old former governor of Arkansas and current Kim Davis super fan, no doubt inspired by Trump's Wednesday threat that "At the request of many, and even though I expect it to be a very boring two hours, I will be covering the Democrat Debate live on twitter!" likewise decided to play peanut gallery during the evening's proceedings. Maybe it's because he's trailing Trump in the polls by a solid twenty points. But personal to Mike Huckabee: If you really want to go this route, get some new material.
Huckabee, who's spent his career carving out a neat niche as the guy your racist aunt wants to quote on Facebook and as the man who'd cheerfully deny an abortion to an 11 year-old rape victim, kicked off the evening with some light jokes, asking, "@RealDonaldTrump - Any last-minute hairstyle advice for @BernieSanders before he takes the stage @ #DemDebate?" He then went into a series of truly bizarre metaphors, saying that "@BernieSander's socialist math is as solid and sound as El Chapo’s prison security," and that "Putin's rolling the @BarackObama/@HillaryClinton foreign policy like Chinese tanks in Tiananmen Square."
He wasn't afraid to be as racially clueless as ever, saying, "Black lives matter because ALL lives matter. Haven't we learned from history? ALL lives matter. It's time we stop burning cars, shooting cops, & recognize that life is a gift from God. Racism exists because we have a sin problem in America, not a skin problem." The best thing you can say about that statement is that it rhymes.
At one point in the evening, he actually retweeted himself. But the lowest point came when, in his fit of metaphor, he said that "I trust @BernieSanders with my tax dollars like I trust a North Korean chef with my labrador!" As Kevin Nguyen later retorted, "All Asians are constantly eating dogs, all the time.... Try and beat me at SATs or ping pong after I've eaten four dogs." But even as his comment sparked shocked reactions, Huckabee doubled down on the line, saying, "Poor liberals think it's racist to deplore a brutal dictatorship."
Sorry, but poor liberals think it's racist to be racist. Making jokes about Korean chefs is not taking a bold stance against "brutal dictatorship" — pretty much everybody's against brutal dictatorship, you know. What's gross is making a cheap shot about a practice that is not terribly common and which, by the way, is more predominant in South Korea. Also, if my kid had been kicked out of Boy Scout camp for, of all things, an incident involving killing a dog, I wouldn't make dog killing jokes. But that's just me.
Say what you will about Trump — like that he's a misogynist and racist and horrible person — he is a master of next-level trolling. His obnoxiousness always feel completely organic to the public persona he's created. When he says terrible, offensive things, they seem to be coming from a sincere place. Huckabee, on the other hand, and as Jack Mirkinson speculated in Salon last month, just seems to be stiffly trying out for the job of America's Next Blowhard Pundit, with a performance that would get him kicked off "The Apprentice" in the first week. But at least he's proven there's something even worse than being Donald Trump. It's being a Donald Trump wannabe.