John Podhoretz admits he was "foolish" to dismiss Huckabee’s chances at the nomination a few weeks ago. And he wonders whether Huck’s rise may indicate that McCain--who also may have had a premature dismissal--might be able to stage a comeback against Huck in January. In the end, however, JPod seems to share my concern that a ticket led by Huckabee would spell electoral disaster for the GOP in November.
On another note, Michael Medved today was speculating on whether Lieberman’s endorsement of McCain signals a kind of growing disgust with the hyper-partisanship of the last few years (decades?). Are Americans really sick of the so-called extremes in both parties?
While I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon that’s always ready to heap disdain on the two party system, I think there is something to this. I think it is true that this election cycle has produced more of what we might call "niche" candidates. I add this disclaimer--that these are very "off the cuff" reflections--but I might also say that the candidates seem to reflect the growing trend in media toward "niche" reporting. There is a blog and a candidate for everyone . . . but there doesn’t seem to be one that unites enough of any of us. And I might also say that this accounts for the vacuousness of the Obama effort. His instincts are correct in trying to appeal to this vague notion of a need for "unity." But the problem is that he can’t really move away from oblique references to universally admired objectives such as hope and unity. That’s why an Oprah endorsement has been such a boon to him . . . she can and does appeal to the same kind of vague notions and has had great success in this for many years. It will be interesting to see his appeal continues to grow in this vague way or if the harsh realities of politics will force him to embrace some absolutes. As soon as he begins to designate specifics, I think things will fall apart and Hillary will be safe. But a Republican who can continue the theme of portraying her as a divider and successfully color himself as a uniter may have a decided advantage.
Are Americans really sick of the so-called extremes in both parties?
I wish I knew where these extremes were? I would welcome them. The real problem is that both parties are tightly bunched around the center with little tolerance for deviations in either direction. Note the treatment of Kucinich and Gravel among the Democrats and Ron Paul and to some extent Tancredo, Hunter and Huck on the right. Deviate too far from the center and you get called bad names as if being too far from the center is some sort of sign of moral reprobation.
Now there is hyper-partisanship, but the partisanship has replaced real significant differences in ideology. That is part of the reason it is so fierce, because the differences are minimal.
Julie, you and 'Jpods' concern that Huck is unelectable in November is just wrong political understanding. A Huckabee candidacy is probably the best thing that could happen for the GOP. Here is a list of the many benefits of a Huckabee candidacy:
1) Shores up the evangelical base. The establishment loves to write these people off, but they do far more than vote. Evangelicals to 3/4 of the work in the GOP, making calls, knocking on doors and they are our grunt political labor. Without their fervent support the GOP has no chance.
2) Communication. This will be a huge issue after 8 years of mediocre (at best) discussion of clear and conservative ideas from Bush. Huckabee can speak and connect with people in a likeable and conservative way better than anyone else in the field.
3) Religious voters of the moderate and even liberal sort (plus Catholics). The Democrats have struggled to build their religious credential because...well duh most Americans are religious. A Huckabee candidacy will lead to numerous and no doubt over-the-top attacks on his religion. Eventually this will even make moderates and liberals frightened that the Democrats really are on a secular crusade against God. Huckabee will appeal to these voters with his nice-guy Christian message while the Democrats turn them off with their anti-religion attacks. This could be huge in the black church community especially against Hillary (note that Huck got over 40% of the black vote in Arkansas running for governor).
4) Intelligent and prudent overtures to small liberal blocks. Any candidate who wants to win needs to shore up the base of his party and then appeal to a small segment of the other party with a moderate and compromised idea or two. Huckabee does this better than anyone else because he is not owned by the GOP establishment. He is free to think for himself and is not afraid to support conservation, environmental responsibility, free and fair trade, and a few other things that extend his appeal beyond the GOP base.
Look, you and Jpod were wrong that Huckabee couldn't make the run at the nomination, and I'm not going to trust your flawed political instincts now and agree that he isn't the best thing the GOP could ask for in the general. Huckabee will be the next President.
Clint, while the Evangelicals are indeed a strong (yet, perhaps splintering) and very active voting bloc, you give them too much credit for their sway in elections. They are not the only "fervent supporters" willing to get out there and do hard campaigning for a GOP nominee. Every plus that you have listed of Huckabee's there, minus the "powerful" evangelical following, Ron Paul has as well. Dr. Paul also has one more advantage over any other candidates-- his positions are very clear and unmoving, and everyone knows that what they see is what they get (uncommon for politicians, no?). To replace the so-called power of the evangelicals when it comes to campaigning in the general election, as I'm sure some people might have noticed by the noise of his crowds and the "trolls and spammers" raiding websites in his honor (oh, and then there is, of course, the very impressive amount of cash this "nobody" candidate has received in one quarter), Ron Paul also has people willing to get out there and aggressively campaign for him. And he most certainly is more removed from "the establishment" than Governor Huckabee.
And if the Democrats nominate Hillary, I assure you that most any conservative (and a decent amount of moderates and liberals) will be campaigning most fervently for whatever candidate is running against her.
Wait - there are two parties? I thought there was just one big one that disagreed on a few things. I think it's called Jesus' Capitalist Nationalism Party in which everyone caters to the Christian faith, money, mass media, the founding, and American exceptionalism/arrogance.
I guess we finally weeded out all the thinking . . . er . . . I mean, all the bad stuff.
Well, Clint gives us all some food for thought. Especially his 3d point, where he suggested that a Huckabee nomination would naturally draw a completely over the top attack on Huckabee's religious convictions. Such an attack, on a mainstream Christian candidate, conducted with the typical Democrat ferocity would naturally trigger some deep and real soul searching amongst certain Democrat constituencies. He certainly may have a point there.
And Red has a point too, especially when we consider the recent attempt to ram through an immigration "reform" act. I forgot which columnist described it as "Washington ganging up on the American people." But that's what it was.
I think I can see things clearly now. HRC is going down. Probably. Grant the probably, and the conclusion follows: neither Huck nor Rudy nor (my choice) Romney can beat Obama, and therefore, Barak Obama will be our next president. He won't be as bad as Carter, and the Islamists are less dangerous opponents than 70s era communists, but he will make many disastrous decisions in foreign policy, and domestic policy will be stalemated. Middling America will feel sorry for him for a long time before they come to have contempt for him, and even then, much will be forgiven.
Clint, very convincing, but you are forgetting the Giuliani Republicans. They have reason for sticking w/ Romney, but much less so w/ Huck, who for some of them, represents as grave a threat to the soul of the Republican coalition as their man does to the social-cons. Few will vote Obama in a Huck-Obama contest, but many will sit out and gripe very loudly.
Why is it that a Republican voter can't question whether or not Huckabee would be the best candidate for the presidency without being told he's part of a national conspiracy among the GOP's "establishment" to keep evangelicals down?
Andrew . . . could it be that they've got a "bunker mentality?"
I used the word "establishment" once in my post saying that Huck is not owned by them because his campaign has not relied on big money. I don't think that is claiming anything like a "national conspiracy." It is true that the intellectual and business establishment of the GOP are both against Huck and I expect united in an unholy matrimony for their self-serving purposes. They happen to be the ones strongest against Huck. Anderew, I respect your reservations (and Carl Scotts), although I believe that Huck is indeed able to appeal to moderates and win.
ROB-As usual your comment is valuable. You are right that Paul supporters do have an energy equal to that of Huck's. I think that the polls show Huck has more, although you can point to Paul's money for the other side. I think that the difference will be reliability. Paul's network is formed through the internet and is likely to fall apart quickly like Dean's perhaps. Huckabee's is through churches, homeschool networks, and other long-lasting relationships that are less likely to wither quickly. There are hard times in politics, and I guess I still think that the Church network is stronger than the internet or Paul network, but your point is well taken.