Geist: Take Away the Charm and Huckabee's a Crackpot

See update at bottom: Scarborough nails Shuster on Huck/Obama double-standard.

If a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, does Mike Huckabee's sweet way with a word make tolerable views that would be rejected as extreme in the mouths of others less verbally gifted?

That's Willie Geist's view of the matter. The genius of the Morning Joe panelist normally resides in his ability to avoid the controversial while remaining interesting. But the anodyne-if-endearing Geist went out of character in today's opening segment on the subject of Mike Huckabee. And he did so in a manner the former Baptist preacher might not find so fetching.

The subject was a speech Huckabee gave yesterday in which he advocated changing the Constitution to adapt to the word of God.

View video here.

WILLIE GEIST: Talking about God and the Constitution, Mika. Governor Mike Huckabee.

Cut to clip of Huckabee addressing an audience.

MIKE HUCKABEE: I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that's what we need to do, to amend the Constitution so it's in God standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.
After some [presumably facetious] banter about Mika's acceptance of the stricture that wives be subservient to their husbands, Willie was ready to move on, when host Joe Scarborough chose to make a serious point.
JOE SCARBOROUGH [with some trepidation]: I got to stop there. I will say, and I think it is interesting, and I think we should comment on it -- just in passing -- he's our friend, Mike Huckabee is our friend, and I have always been the first guy to say that evangelicals should be able to talk politics just like liberals should be able to go into churches and talk politics. I will say that some might find that statement very troubling: that we are going to change the Constitution to be in line with the Bible, and that's all I'm going to say.

GEIST: And isn't it interesting that Mike Huckabee, because of his charm --

SCARBOROUGH: Well I'm going to say one more thing: render onto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and onto God that which is God's. Let us worry about the spiritual on one side -- anyway, go ahead.

GEIST: Let's imagine someone else saying that, someone without his charm and his personality. He'd be dismissed as a crackpot, wouldn't he? But he's Mike Huckabee and he's basically the frontrunner.

SCARBOROUGH: I like him. God help me, I like him.

GEIST: Amazing. One quick note before we get to Mika's news --

SCARBOROUGH: Actually, seriously, I just have to say, seriously. That is more of a reach, more of, I think liberals would say, a breach of the line separating church and state, than Mike Huckabee has --

GEIST: I guess. To change the Constitution --

SCARBOROUGH: To be in line with the word of God.

GEIST: You might say that. You might say that.

Nothing is unconstitutional, of course, if the Constitution is amended to permit it. Still . . .

Update 8:45 AM ET | Scarborough Backs Shuster Down on Double-Standard

When during the 6:30 AM ET half-hour David Shuster criticized Huckabee for "demeaning" religion by injecting it into politics, Scarborough nailed him for his hypocrisy in not pointing out how Obama had done something very similar, going into a church to preach his political word. So successfully did Scarborough corner Shuster that the MSNBC "correspondent," as shown here, literally threw up his hands and admitted he'd been "boxed-in."

View video here.

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.