Sure, they have a couple things in common: one line zingers, a taste for schmaltz, perhaps. But that's about it.
Politically they'd never agree on anything, right? Just a few weeks ago, in an opinion piece entitled "Time to say goodbye to the United Nations," Mr. Huckabee lumped Mr. Chávez in with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi as "murdering thugs and despicable despots."
"What has Obama done to deserve this prize?" asked Chavez in a column. "The jury put store on his hope for a nuclear arms-free world, forgetting his role in perpetuating his battalions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his decision to install new military bases in Colombia. For the first time, we are witnessing an award with the nominee having done nothing to deserve it: rewarding someone for a wish that is very far from becoming reality."
Tilting at windmills?
Tough words from someone who seems at times to be a tad confused about ideals becoming reality. As the Monitor reported back in 2005, Chávez launched an initiative to print and distribute 1 million copies of Miguel de Cervantes’s 1605 classic, Don Quixote – perhaps in the hope that people may compare him to the fictional defender of the oppressed.
“We are all going to read ‘Quixote’ to feed ourselves once again with that spirit of a fighter who came to undo injustice and fix the world,” Chávez said at the time, tilting at a few windmills of his own, and seemingly missing the irony that Don Quixote never actually accomplished his goals.
Huckabees goes sarcastic
Huckabee was equally critical of the Nobel choice. But instead of his trademark folksy charm or one of those quasi-emotional appeals to viewers, he reached deeper into his rhetorical closet and tried biting sarcasm.
"Talk about giving hope to all of us — no longer do we have to actually accomplish stuff, but simply convince others that we hope to accomplish stuff. I think we ought to universally celebrate the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize for potential deeds," he said on his show, "Huckabee." "Since I'm a musician, I'd like to go ahead and get my Grammy now — and I'm on TV, so I want an Emmy as well.
And he didn't miss a chance to plug his book as he continued the mockery.
"I've written several books, and have a brand-new Christmas book that hits the bookstores in November, so let me thank everyone in advance for the Pulitzer Prize that I've always wanted."
He goes on ... and on. But his criticism echoes what we've been hearing around the world since the award was announced on Thursday.
So what was the award really about?
The fact that Nobel committee's choice of Obama has been so roundly questioned – from Chávez to Huckabee, from the Taliban to Rush Limbaugh, and even by Obama himself – signifies that a) there's something funky in the water in Oslo, or b) "the purpose of this award isn't to recognize past success but to support someone's current efforts that the Nobel committee particularly likes," as a Monitor editorial puts it.
Obama won the award for "improving on the process of everyone getting along in the world," according to the editorial.
So, if it's the process that counts, then Obama has already changed many of the ways in which the world's sole superpower interacts with the international community. Whether that is good or bad is a matter of vigorous debate, and whether that approach yields the type of results one would hope to see in a Nobel Peace Prize winner will take years to come to light.
"If [Obama] can successfully turn around Afghanistan, deter Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, I will build a bookcase for him to put [the Nobel Peace Prize] in," quipped Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina yesterday on NBC's Meet the Press.