THE BLOG
01/05/2011 11:20 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Repeal the "Repeal It Now" Ad!

The 2012 presidential election is on. (As if it's ever been off.) But the unofficial first shot has been fired by former Arkansas governor and failed 2008 GOP candidate Mike Huckabee in the form of a TV spot advocating the repeal of the health care bill. Or, as Huck refers to it: a 2300-page monstrosity cooked up in "back room deals in the dead of night" and "forced on the American people, despite their kicking and screaming that they didn't want it." The spot urges all Americans to sign an online petition entitled "repeal it now," a phrase he seems to expect will go down in history as a clarion call of American defiance, along with "no taxation without representation," (which some elements of the GOP would love to amend to "no taxation"), and "Surrender? Nuts!" (Unless it was "surrender nuts," Eric Massa's admonition to his male staff members.) And at the bottom of the screen, pictures of key supporters of the repeal initiative, including noted American intellectuals Michael Reagan and Joe the Plumber.

Now, Huck seems life an affable guy. The former fattie preacher with the hound dog face, folksy smile and aw shucks manner even demonstrates occasional flashes of reasonableness, such as in a recent appearance on The Daily Show, in which he urged members of his party to support the 9/11 first responders bill. Still, for an opening salvo in his campaign, and given the fact that he probably refers to himself as "a man of God" I was expecting a little something more out of him. A little, I don't know, honesty.

First of all, no one was kicking and screaming about this bill other than the insurance companies, their paid lobbyists like Dick Armey, their de facto lobbyists in congress, and the assorted goofballs they coaxed out of their La-Z-Boys to storm the town hall meetings and shout down any possibility of intelligent discussion or debate, fobbing it off as genuine outrage. As for the talking point about this bill being over 2300 pages, don't congresspersons have staffs trained in the dual arts of reading and summarizing? And as for the American people kicking and screaming, I don't recall seeing any kicking from parents whose kids will be allowed to remain on their policies until they're 26. And I don't remember hearing any screaming from either Democrats or Republicans about the fact that their insurance companies can no longer deny them coverage based on pre-existing conditions, or max out their coverage when they're hit with a serious illness. For all the bitching about "Obamacare," I still wonder which part of it Republicans hate more: the "Obama" part, or the "care" part.

In the commercial, Huckabee also talks about American voters being adults, who deserve to be treated as such. Well, the way to treat them as such is not by putting out some low-rent commercial with cheesy graphics, obligatory waving flags, and histrionic rhetoric, intending to obscure the facts while demonizing an important piece of legislation. Legislation that was passed through the democratic process. (Or maybe he just considers them an "activist congress?") And as for the exhortation to "spank Congress." That's just childish. And fucking dumb.

According to many cable pundits, Huck is the GOP frontrunner, assuming the Leona Helmsley of the Republican party, Queen Sarah, either punks out or self-destructs via her own venality or congenital stupidity. And if she runs, she will self-destruct, because no matter how many pet phrases her handlers teach her to say, they can never teach her to think. They can give her the names of books to claim she's reading, but they can't equip her to actually understand, let alone discuss the ideas inside. She will fall because she's defenseless against the one weapon she hasn't had to face in two years -- the dreaded follow-up question.

But putting aside the interminable pondering over whether or not she'll run, chances are she's smart enough to read the polls reflecting her enormous unpopularity outside the GOP womb, and will just hit the trail to horse trade her popularity for fun and profit. Or maybe another great white hope will emerge. (Though it will be a challenge to find someone whiter than Romney.) But, for the moment, Huck looks like a contender.

So, please, Governor, if you want to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate -- up your game. You have problems with the health care bill? Make your case like an adult. Deal in facts, not histrionics. And be prepared to debate the facts in a public forum. If you don't understand the subtleties of the bill, study up. Or maybe start by wrapping your mind around a simpler concept. Like evolution. Cheesy, classless commercials like this may play to the base, but they negate you as a credible national candidate. However, if your goal is just to play to the base and come off like a clown, then don't stop with this childish commercial. Go all the way -- put on a dress, smear on some lipstick, grab a rifle, and get yourself a reality show.