Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Huckabee, the evangelical (and no one else?) candidate

Jim Geraghty thinks so, and he may be right.

But two points are worth noting. First, Republicans have to be serious about getting some of the themes that Huckabee has articulated if they’re serious about getting some of the support he has attracted. If the G.O.P. is going to remain a big tent, then there has to be room for Huckabites inside. Lisa Schiffren’s snarky condescension (and I’m putting it mildly here) can’t be the only, or even the modal, response. Of course, the converse is also true: evangelicals can’t be part of a winning political coalition if it’s their way or the highway.

And then there’s Randy Brinson, mentioned by Geraghty as someone with an extensive mailing list. Brinson, as I’ve noted before, is not above reaching across the aisle. The management team of Brinson’s Redeem the Vote includes this guy, whose friends range from John Street to Rick Santorum. Its advisory board runs the gamut from Eric Sapp of Common Good Strategies to YAF’s Stephanie Acosta Inks. I first heard about Brinson from the doyenne of the faithful Democrats, Amy Sullivan. And I first wrote about him for TAE Online in March, 2006, in an essay I’ve reposted here.

This is the coming wave of evangelicalism. Democrats can miss it if they continue to insist that being pro-choice on abortion is the "soul" of their party, but so can a Republican Party that thinks Rudy Giuliani is its most electable candidate. Huckabee and Michael Gerson need a seat at the table.

Discussions - 22 Comments

I was very irritated by Schiffren's comments which just dripped with elitist condescension. She had one that was just as bad yesterday.

All this supports the point that I have been making. The anti-Huckabee hysteria is not motivated by his compassionate conservatism. For that to be true you would have to believe that Romney/McCain/Thompson/Giuliani are actually credible budget cutters which they are not. Perhaps they at least mouth the rhetoric.

The objections to him are elitist and anti-evangelical. Perhaps not anti-evangelical per se, but anti the kind of evangelical whose theology is not fluid enough to allow him to "concede" that Mormonism is Christian.

Which makes another point I have been harping on. There is a price to pay in the realm of "private" faith (there really is no such thing) for all this insistence on public square neutrality and tolerance.

Now that that dead horse has been beaten a little more, I am going to take a few deep breaths and a blood pressure pill before I stroke out.

It seems the GOP needs to determine what it's core principles are going to be. It can't be something like specific theological doctrine. In fact, narrowly defined specifics are what would keep the GOP from being a 51% party.

That leaves open the question: what are the GOP's core guiding principles? I honestly don't know any more. "Limited government?" Hardly. "The greatness of America?" Nope.

Of course, the Democrats have a similar problem, with one exception: the collection of their "principles" appeal to the base selfishness of humans. And selfishness, as I've maintained in other posts, is becoming increasingly prevalent in our political decision making process.

I agree that Lisa should have taken her own advice and, perhaps, reconsidered the tone of her words . . . however, the substance of her point is a valid one. Without wishing to hammer home what some consider an "elitist" point . . . there is a vast difference between Arkansas politics and being the leader of the free world. The consequences of poor judgment are more devastating. And the same folks who are now shouting "elitism" were more than happy to zip their lips when the same point was made in 1992 about Bill and Hillary . . . remember the jokes about them being "hillbillies"? I thought that was all overdone too, but there was a kernel of truth to all of it and it showed (especially in the early days) of Bill's presidency. Huck's strength (his homespun common sense) is also a weakness and he had better address it if he wants to be President. He will have to demonstrate that his judgment is better as a result of his not being in the Washington game . . . so far I only see him ducking.

Perhaps some folks need to read or reread these statements (not to mention this one, this one, and this one)> And evangelicals have to recognize that while God-talk is fine (and entirely permissible in the public square), sometimes using other arguments might not only be more politically effective but also might open people's minds to the God-talk.

As a Southerner I never made those jokes about Clinton. Although Bill was always more Georgetown and Oxford than he was Hope.

But more importantly, we are not electing the "leader of the free world." Where the heck is that in the Constitution? That mindset is entirely part of the problem. We are electing the Chief Executive of the United States. Nothing more. Nothing less. If the Chief Executive was doing what he was supposed to be doing in a constitutionally limited government, then a little misstep here or there would not move markets or launch bombs.

As conservatives, we should not concede this new reality. We should fight it.

Entirely predictable response from Red . . . But he's right about one thing . . . Clinton was not exactly homespun. He did have more of Oxford and Georgetown in him than the average Arkansan and certainly more than Huck. But Clinton had enough of Arkansas in him to bite him when when he got to the big show. His problem was that he was a special combination of the worst of both worlds. It was this special combination that got him where he was--and it was also this combination that took him down. Like Obama . . . another tragic figure.

I think it is wrong to categorize Huck as the "evangelical" candidate at this point. Let us let Huck be Huck for a while. The attempt to categorize him as such is an attempt to diminish him in the public mind, as is the cherry-picking of quotes. I know how this game is played. We don't know yet who will host the banquet.

I've been trying to make sense of the Rasmussen phenomenon, which has Huckabee going up after attacks or alleged missteps. And I do wonder where the ceiling is. The rise in popularity after some of the attacks may be my fellow southern socons rising in defense of "their man," who has to broaden his appeal if he's going to go anywhere.

His polls are up because the fact that the "front runners" and media are attacking him is validating his candidacy. I knew a long time ago that Huck is what the people want in a President-the battle was to get to a critical mass of support where people would see that he could actually win. Despite little money, and no help from the GOP establishment Huck made it happen. Now these attacks are just throwing gas on the fire, because people like Huck and the attacks are just proving the only thing they had worries about-Is he electable?

Clint, you wrote "Huck is what the people want in a President." What would you say is the essence of what people want? His ideas? Or his demeanor?

I think the people want both Huck's ideas and his demeanor. They want a candidate who can explain why life and liberty are good things. They want a candidate who believes that the end of government is to serve the individual in the pursuit of life and liberty. We want a candidate who supports change. The Fair Tax is another great idea, although it will likely be DOA.

Huck's demeanor is also desireable. Having survived politics in Arkansas for 12 years (as a Republican!) he knows how to fight through campaigns and win, but his governing style is uniting instead of divisive. We need a President who knows how to put the election behind him and is has a demeanor that can make friends with those who politically disagree.

Dr. K. re. #8, here is Daniel Larison's take on why Huckabee may benefit from what some evangelicals may perceive as an unfair attack on them. I think he is right.

Joe, to your comment 8, it is pretty obvious to your socons, sobaps, and even soCaths, that immediately upon Huck's rise the conservative establishment just leapt into the arms of Romney. I can understand Bob Novak's gentrified Club for Growth concern particularly. But it strikes me that many of these other folks flirted for almost a year with supporting pro-Roe Rudy, but couldn't abide even the flicker of a chance that a pretty fair country orthodox Christian who takes his religion serious along with his politics would have a run at the nomination. No doubt in my mind but that this is helping to sustain Huck's numbers now. Huck has helped to create his own ceiling by calling attention to his Christianity, but his critics are trying to cement it. I think it will be difficult now for him to break out of the "evangelical" box, but we'll see. In another vein, I wonder if the serious folks on NLT might venture once in a while to tell all who they're thinking of voting for and a little why. Might help still undecided me. I started leaning to Rudy, to the consternation I know of the Seatons, then hoped for Fred, and have taken delight in Huck, whom I enjoy immensely (had a chance to talk with him here in Spartanburg and love his book on losing weight--take that, Peter!). If I had to walk in the booth tomorrow I don't know who I'd vote for among Fred, John and Huck. Romney's the one guy I've ruled out.

On the prudence of nominating Huck:

Since my fellow conservatives refuse to join me in considering pure principle, I will wade into the field of political prudence and pragmatism to say the Huckabee is now the only candidate that can hold the GOP together.

Many on this blog criticize the evangelical wing of the party for being imprudent and staying home on election day if they don't get their way. This may be true, but it is exactly why we need to appease them now and vote for Huckabee. The Wall Street Journal and business moderate crowd are much more likely to compromise and go work and donate to Huckabee than the evangelicals are to support a moderate like Romney. This is especially true since Huckabee's huge momentum means that the only way the moderate establishment can stop him is by attacks on his conservative and Baptist beliefs. If Huck loses the nomination it will be because of this dirt and evangelical turnout (not even considering the loss of those volunteer hours) will plumet.

The "moderates" in the party and on this blog better start standing up for Huck. David Frisk is all over this blog with self-righteous comments anytime someone says Mormon, and Knippenberg thought Huck's error was huge. Now the moderate establishment is bringing up that Huck supported the Baptist and Biblical definition of marriage (wives submit to your servant and leader husbands) in 1998 and this somehow makes him unelectable. Go to H*ll moderate wimps. They sure don't do to Huck as they say we social conservatives have to do to Romney.

If Huck goes down now the GOP will split for sure, so for prudence's sake support Huckabee, and let the moderates compromise-that's what they're best at.

Adding to my comment 13, and by the way, this means that Mitt's religiosity is not taken seriously by any of the elites.

"But it strikes me that many of these other folks flirted for almost a year with supporting pro-Roe Rudy, but couldn't abide even the flicker of a chance that a pretty fair country orthodox Christian who takes his religion serious along with his politics would have a run at the nomination."


"by the way, this means that Mitt's religiosity is not taken seriously by any of the elites."

Amen to that too.

That said, go Ron Paul.

Clint . . . you seem only to have forgotten your brass knuckles to accompany your threat of not showing up on election day in that last counsel on "prudence." And did you really say "appease" . . . ? Your missive on prudence is counseling appeasement?

Forgive me Julie have I mistaken prudence for pragmatism again? Would you understand it better if I said that destroying Huck now will destroy any practical chances of winning the White House for the GOP by turning off evangelicals. Whereas not supporting Romney isn't a big deal because the moderate establishment is more willing to compromise than the evangelcals. So if prudence is getting the most conservative person in the White House possible, I'm arguing that Huckabee is currently the ONLY NOMINEE WHO CAN HOLD THE GOP TOGETHER. I think that makes him the prudent choice.

Sure we Republicans should "appease" social conservatives at this point (with Huck taking the lead) rather than split the party by attacking him to get some other dork nominated. Prudence alway comes down to appeasement when you are left with only two choices. Some may wrongly believe that Romney could win in Nov, but it is increasingly clear that the destruction of Huck will destroy the party and make anyone else who is nominated unelectable. So if for prudence you wish the most conservative person possible to be elected, that person is now Huckabee. Appease away moderates; it's not really appeasement for them, it's their principle so to speak.

I never heard of Lisa Schiffren before, and I won't lose any sleep if I never do again.

Clint, I think you are mistaken if you believe that the only criticism of Huckabee is coming from the moderate establishment in the GOP. Plenty of conservatives are skeptical also.

Though I agree that many of the attacks on him are counter-productive in their tone, and sometimes their substance.

We need a President who knows how to put the election behind him and is has a demeanor that can make friends with those who politically disagree.

Sort of like the way Bush made Ted Kennedy the most important Senator in DC these last several years?

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