Huckabee: The only difference between me and Palin is that she looks better in stilettos

I’m exaggerating. He also concedes that she has better hair.

Asked about Sarah Palin, he responded, “She, uh, was an appropriate choice, because she put John McCain back in the game.” That was the get-along answer, but a few minutes later the new, aggrieved Huckabee resurfaced. He recalled, “It was funny that all through the primary—I mean literally up until McCain got enough delegates to win—people said, ‘You know, Huckabee’s really running for Vice-President. Gee, Huckabee would be a great Vice-President.’ And from that day forward, when I actually was no longer running for President, nobody ever said, ‘Gee, Huckabee would be a great Vice-President.’ ” Neither was he quite so unperturbed by the Palin pick: “I was scratching my head, saying, ‘Hey, wait a minute. She’s wonderful, but the only difference was she looks better in stilettos than I do, and she has better hair.’ It wasn’t so much a gender issue, but it was like they suddenly decided that everything they disliked about me was O.K. . . . She was given a pass by some of the very people who said I wasn’t prepared.”

Er, what is the major difference between her and Huck, aside from the fact that he has much more executive experience than she does? He’s impeccably socially conservative; so is she. He’s questionable on amnesty; so is she. He’s prone to anti-Wall Street rhetoric aimed at pandering to blue-collar voters; so is she. The big rap on him is that he’s always seemed a tad too comfortable with regulation for Republican tastes, but he stridently opposed the bailout while she supported some form of intervention to avert another Great Depression. (She’s opposed to additional bailouts.) It can’t all come down to taxes, can it? The ‘Cuda’s record isn’t spotless there, either.

Some of this can be blamed on her being a good soldier during the campaign and trying to conform her message to Maverick’s, although of course that didn’t stop her from publicly disagreeing with him about ANWR and the federal marriage amendment — another big government, anti-federalist measure, albeit one which Huck also supports. The real difference, I think, is tone. Palin’s charm rests in her perceived authenticity whereas Huck’s guileless nice-guy persona is forever being undercut by sniping at Republican rivals and “innocent” misunderstandings that look suspiciously like sly, nasty attacks: The “Christian leader” ad, the musings about Jesus and Satan in Mormon doctrine, the press conference called to announce that he wouldn’t be airing a negative spot against Romney before promptly playing it for reporters. Above all, for a guy who’s famous for saying that he may be a conservative but he’s not mad about it, resentment figures heavily in his rhetoric: Class resentment, especially vis-a-vis Romney, political resentment at how Beltway Republicans have supposedly snubbed Christians, and even petty personal resentments about how colleagues like Palin have had an easier ride than he has. As likeable as he is onscreen, that bitterness and calculation is never far from my mind when I watch him.

But I digress. His suggestion that he and Palin are no different is false, but surely they’re not so different that one should be heralded as the second coming of Reagan while the other’s name is practically an epithet to huge swaths of our readership. Exit question: How’d that happen?