Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee might be on to something. Nothing says “populism” quite like hawking suspect cure-alls from the modern equivalent of traveling medicine show.
After running unsuccessfully for the presidency in 2008, Huckabee embraced his role as an entertainer and sacrificed much of his credibility in the process. In his new role as book salesman and television host, the former governor apparently saw no problem in using his email list to generate a bit of added revenue by selling products of dubious repute to his devoted fans.
Among the most suspicious products Huckabee promoted during this period were a set of dietary supplements called the “Diabetes Solution Kit.” This series of pills containing cinnamon and chromium picolinate promised to eventually rid users of their diabetes, but only after prolonged use of course. “Let me tell you, diabetes can be reversed,” Huckabee insisted in an infomercial. “I should know, because I did it. Today you can, too.”
But none of that is true. The American and Canadian Diabetes Association says that this set of diet supplements does nothing to reduce chronically high blood glucose or blood sugar levels in patients who suffer from those conditions.
Though some might contend that hawking products like these is a morally suspect method of generating revenue, there is nothing illegal about it. This course of action is, however, a potential disqualifier for anyone looking to run for the presidency. On Sunday, CBS News host Bob Schieffer asked about Doc Huckabee’s Magical Liniment and received a testy response in return.
“I don’t have to defend everything that I’ve ever done,” Huckabee said. The candidate failed to address the medical claims made by the product he pitched, and merely insisted that it was primarily marketed as a dietary supplement.
“If that’s the worst thing that people can say to me, that I advocated for people who have diabetes to do something to reverse it and stop the incredible pain of that, then I’m going to be a heck of a good president,” he added.
National Journal columnist Ron Fournier noted that this is not the first time Huckabee has endured questions from reporters about his decision to rent his email list to suspicious vendors. In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, the exchange grew tense after Huckabee acknowledged using his email list to sell suspicious products, including a supposed cure for cancer, to those who put their trust in the former governor.
“But my gosh, that’s like saying, ‘You run some ads on CNN, do you personally agree with all the ads that run on CNN?’ I doubt you do,” he said. “I’m sure there’s some for maybe, I don’t know, catheters or adult diapers, they’re not products you use or you necessarily believe in. I don’t hold you responsible for that.”
Tapper called out Huckabee for the false equivalence.
“We’re talking about medical devices on one hand, catheters and adult diapers, and you’re talking about something I think a lot of people would consider to be hucksterism in terms of Bible verses curing cancer,” Tapper said.
“On CNN, Huckabee finally told Tapper, ‘I didn’t actually run that part of my company,’” Fournier wrote, presumably aghast at this display of buck passing.
Huckabee’s slippery response to Schieffer’s question, replete as it was with dodges, non-answers, and intentional obfuscations, virtually confirmed the claim that Huckabee misled his credulous fans in order to relieve them of their cash. It’s a serious charge, and Huckabee is not taking it especially seriously. Unfortunately for him, the political reporting class certainly is.