So I'm currently watching the Colbert Report, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (fresh off his campaign-rejuvenating performance at the Iowa straw poll) was chatting with Colbert at the beginning of the show. At the end of the appearance, Colbert asked Huckabee the facetious question he asks a lot of his guests - "George W. Bush: great president, or the greatest president?" Huckabee's response: once history is settled, he'll be up there with McKinley and Harding.
Really? McKinley and Harding? Neither of those are on anyone's list of the best presidents in history, and Harding - owing to the fact that he presided over the most scandal-ridden administration in recent memory - is often listed as one of the worst.
Huckabee doesn't take himself too seriously on the Report - he did offer Colbert the vice-presidency - so this probably shouldn't be looked at that seriously. But why the hell would Huckabee drag Warren Harding out of the slime at the bottom of the historical barrel and compare George W. Bush to him? Or McKinley, who started the Spanish-American War and was otherwise just kinda there? Why not pick someone that the average American has actually heard of? I mean, if he'd wanted to give Bush a compliment, wouldn't he have referenced Lincoln, or Teddy Roosevelt, or Eisenhower, or something?
Is this just Huckabee's way of delivering a thinly veiled insult to the Prez? "Congratulations, you're almost McKinley, and you're up there with Harding! You're mediocre to crappy and in a century you'll be relatively anonymous!" Or is he trying to show off his historical knowledge so people don't think he's an anti-intellectual like Bush? Maybe McKinley and Harding are the presidents that Huckabee really views as good examples of Presidential leadership, in which case I'm kinda worried for him. Is this what Huckabee said as a kid - "Mom, I wanna be President, just like Warren Harding?"
Or was Huckabee strategizing here? Maybe his consultants told him that comparisons were dangerous because someone will be offended - invoke Lincoln and piss off Stars-and-Bars-waving Southerners, invoke Reagan and piss off anyone who was poor during the '80s, etc. As such, he just decided, "fuck it, I'll pick two completely anonymous presidents so that anyone who has a reaction stronger than 'who?' will just write me off as having been on a comedy show?"
I don't get it. I really don't. And I'm fully expecting someone to whip out a Zachary Taylor comparison here soon.