Bill Steigerwald

Since Mike Huckabee finished third in the 2008 Republican presidential primaries, the former governor of Arkansas, author and ordained Southern Baptist minister seems to have found a new career in television and radio.

"Huckabee," his hour-long show on Fox News Channel on Saturdays at 8 p.m. (repeated at 11 p.m.), is a mix of politics, entertainment and interviews with newsmakers, politicos and celebrities that exploits its namesake's famous humor and his skill as a rock 'n' roll bassist.

Huckabee's daily radio commentary, "The Huckabee Report," is carried on ABC Radio Networks and his seventh book, "Do The Right Thing: Inside the Movement That's Bringing Common Sense Back to America," came out in November.

I talked to Huckabee by telephone Tuesday (Feb. 24) evening as he headed for a meeting in New York City:

Q: Are you secretly happy you're not the president right now?

A: Well, no. I wouldn't characterize (it like) that. I certainly know it's a challenge, but in many ways, in light of the policies that are being put forth, I wish I was.

Q: What's your aerial assessment of President Obama's actions and rhetoric so far?

A: He's completely governing almost opposite of what I had not only expected but had predicted he would do. . Let me give you an example. I thought that he would be much more careful not to stir up controversial things early in his term; that he would have learned from the Clinton debacle of '93; and that he would have left alone a lot of very controversial items like some of the sanctity-of-life issues and same-sex marriage issues. It's been somewhat surprising that he's taken those on immediately.

The other thing that has surprised me is that the rhetoric of his campaign was so built around the importance of hope and a different way of doing business in Washington, and then when he gets there he essentially fills the Cabinet and his administration with very seasoned Washington insiders.

His message has been far more about fear than hope, and rather than give us a locker-room pep talk, he kind of holds our hand and says, "Boys, there's just nothing else we can do." I feel like rather than the coach at halftime telling his team to go out and win, he's the doctor at bedside basically suggesting that we just pull the plug.

Q: Is there anything that leaps to your mind that Obama should be doing differently -- mainly the economic stuff?


Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald, born and raised in Pittsburgh, is a former L.A. Times copy editor and free-lancer who also worked as a docudrama researcher for CBS-TV in Hollywood before becoming a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a columnist Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Bill Steigerwald recently retired from daily newspaper journalism..