Mike Huckabee is widely known as an amiable fellow. Whatever you might think of his politics, he seems like a nice guy. But Mike Huckabee is a con artist. Literally.
Like many conservative pundits, Huckabee maintains an email list that he uses to generate income. The way it works is that because of his public profile, lots of people will sign up for his list, and then he can sell those names and addresses to people who want to sell things to those people. Maybe it's a book from a conservative publisher, say, or a pitch to donate to a conservative cause. But in many cases, it's just a con. Like this email that Huckabee recently sent, which Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski shares with us:
Let's be clear about what this is. Huckabee is partnering with another con artist, whose con is to use people's religious faith as a way to sell them bullshit "miracle" cancer cures and nutritional supplements.
He's hardly the only one playing this game. There's a long history of conservatives buying and selling lists of their supporters to be used as marks for all manner of scams. If you're interested, Rick Perlstein explains it here in detail.
The key element in the confidence man's game is confidence—the confidence that the mark has in the con man. The mark needs to trust you, and then you can steal anything from them. And the people on his email list, who I'm sure consist mostly of elderly white people in the South and Midwest, trust Mike Huckabee. When the snake-oil salesman with the secret biblical cure for cancer pays Huckabee to send a promotional email to that list, he's renting that trust, which will enable him to steal those people's money.
Now let's think about this on an individual level. Right now there's a devout couple in their 80s who just found out that their 55-year-old daughter has cervical cancer. They're terrified. They'd do anything to help her. And then they get an email from that nice Mike Huckabee, pointing them toward a miracle cure for cancer hidden right there in the Bible. It must be legit, because Mike Huckabee wouldn't rope them into a scam. So they head right over to the web site, watch the video about the "Matthew 4 protocol" and the "frankincense extract," then they send away for the free bonus gift of "The Bible's Healing Code Revealed" which comes with a one-year subscription to Dr. Mark Stengler's Health Revelations—half price if you're a senior citizen!—and they whip out that credit card and start ordering all the supplements they can. They tell their daughter, with pain and fear in their voices, that this is what can cure her if only she'll believe and they keep buying.
These are the people—gullible, afraid, at the most desperate point of their lives—that Mike Huckabee sees as marks just waiting to be scammed.
I happen to find Huckabee's opinions on public policy repellent. But even if you're a conservative who agrees with him on political issues, how can you look at this kind of thing and not be disgusted? So the next time you see Mike Huckabee on TV, with his ready smile and easy laugh, and you catch yourself thinking that he's a nice guy, remember how he makes money.