Huckabee’s speech, and Hillary’s, and Edwards’s

Really, quite a good performance. Hillary’s, not so much.

Laugh at him if you please &#8212 there’s plenty to laugh at, and cringe at, in his record &#8212 but Huckabee gives a damned good speech. Striking how much it resembles Obama’s in its celebration of unity, its deprecation of hatred as a political principle, its insistence on the importance of the cause rather than the candidate, and the impression that both men give of actually speaking to the audience rather than reciting a prepared text. Given that we have to listen to one of the GOP candidates for the next ten months, I’d rather listen to Huckabee than to any of the others.

I’m not sure the Republican establishement will really be able to stop this guy, especially if in the end he’s mano-a-mano with McCain. Fortunately, I think any Democrat would cream him in November.

Update The contrast with HRC could hardly be more stark. Occasionally, her speechifying rises to the level of the pedestrian. Edwards, on the other hand, is getting panned for being “ungracious” in not congratulating Obama and “angry” in emphasizing that health insurance companies shouldn’t be able to delay their clients to death. I disagree. The speech seemed to me both heartfelt and un-selfconscious: about his cause and not about himself. Yes, he would have done better speaking in a lower tone. But I didn’t see anything there I wouldn’t want to see in a President. (As an Obama fan, I’d like to see Edwards fold as quickly as possible, but as a critic of rhetoric I have to say the thing that is, or at least the thing that appears to me.)

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: