Where'd He Come From?
Like John Cole and others in the blogosphere, I confess that I'm also a little bit gobsmacked by the conservative opinion leaders' open hostility to Mike Huckabee. Kevin Drum thinks it's because the bloggers and op-ed writers are all cosmopolitan, big city folk who prefer that aristocrats pander to the religious right, not actually, you know, be them. Atrios says it's a class thing, and he's right. The Village has never taken to hicks coming in and trashing the place --- it's not their place.
But, while I think there's definitely something to all of those theories, I believe it's fundamentally something much more prosaic: they know he can't win. And what's really funny about that is that it implies that they think somebody in the rest of their field actually could.
The money people obviously believed that in their weakened position the best thing to do was hire some east coast technocrat or tough guy (preferably both, but you can't have everything) who would wink and nod at the rubes in the primary and then run as Arnold Schwarzenneger in the general. Rudy McRomney has none of the Bushlike, born-again, regional signifiers that they think are independent/swing voter killers in this election. Huckabee, bless his heart, just oozes them.
Remember this choice quote of last month from the increasingly delusional William Kristol, suggesting that the nominee choose Lieberman as a running mate?
It's true, given the behavior of the congressional Democrats, the GOP nominee might well win with a more conventional running mate. But why settle for a victory if you can have a realignment?
He's actually still thinking realignment.
I quoted from this excellent Noah Millman post yesterday in another context. He is commenting on a post by Ross Douthat at the Atlantic which posits that none of the GOP candidates can win the nomination for a variety of different reason. Millman writes:
I completely understand Ross’s point, but I don’t agree that the current crop of nominees is a bad ideological fit for the GOP. They are only a bad ideological fit if your ideological straightjacket fits really, really tight.
Romney and Giuliani would have been “moderate Democrats” anywhere but in their respective hyper-liberal homes? Really? Romney got elected by running as a clean-government technocrat. So did George W. Bush when he ran his first race for governor of Texas. He ran a competent, business-oriented administration, and also became a vociferous culture warrior on religious-right issues. Giuliani, meanwhile, ran as the enemy of crime and welfare dependency, and governed as (depending on who you ask, and both views could be true) a forceful and notably successful conservative or a narcissistic megalomaniac. Calling these guys “moderate Democrats” effectively means: if you operate in any way within the context of the politics of your time and region, you are tainted. By that standard, Ronald Reagan, who signed a huge tax increase, cut and ran in Lebanon, preserved middle-class entitlements, appointed Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, and signed the only Cold War agreement with the Soviet Union to actually scrap a class of weapons, was a moderate Democrat, too.
Romney, plainly, is a business conservative. If he had been running for governor of Arizona, he would have fitted his cultural identity to suit that state, and would have prioritized pro-business technocratic governance just as he did in Massachusetts. Giuliani, plainly, is a law-and-order conservative. If he had grown up in South Carolina, he would have been just as much of a pro-lifer, and just as much of a philanderer, as, say, Strom Thurmond. If being very solid on some issues, and trying to make nice with other parts of the coalition on other issues, makes someone a bad ideological fit, then something has gone very wrong with the party.
Yes it has. The conservative evangelicals have always wanted one of their own, a real life conservative southern preacher, and damned if they didn't just wake up and realize that they have one. Rudy McRomney can't compete with that. The big money boyz insist that the Republicans nominate somebody who knows exactly who the boss really is, the racists want a mean bastard and the operatives desperately require somebody who can win over swing voters. Unless the Christian Right decides to take one for the team, the Republicans have quite a dilemma.
It's especially enjoyable watching the pundit class having the vapors over this usurper. Peggy Noonan laments that even Ronald Reagan (dear me!)wouldn't be good enough for the "nuts" as she called them last week. But she backed the Schiavo circus to the hilt, calling those who objected to the federal government meddling in one families business, "in love with death." And she certainly didn't seem to think there was any problem at all with the majority leaders of both the House and the Senate joining in this:
The Republican race looks--at the moment--to be determined primarily by one thing, the question of religious faith. In my lifetime faith has been a significant issue in presidential politics, but not the sole determinative one. Is that changing? If it is, it is not progress.
Did she think these people were joking at those rallies when they said this?
As evangelical Christians, our main concern is the citizenship that is ours in heaven that has been purchased by our Savior. But we also understand that we have a responsibility here on this earth, so long as we are alive, until the Lord returns, to show God's love and to contend for God's righteousness -- and to tell this world that through His Law, and through His Word, God is trying to tell us something for our good, for our health, for our holiness. And we, as Christians, need to be active in the public sphere, not just to impose some kind of worldview or ideology, but to be salt and light, because that's not my idea -- that's how we were commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ.
We need to speak as Christian citizens
The religious right may just have finally tuned in to the fact that there was a candidate who spoke that language and they have decided to defy their betters in the salons of New York and DC (and TV Ministries too) to vote for the guy they feel represents them. As ye sow, so shall ye reap, my friends.
Not that it matters. Even if the GOP establishment manages to take out Huckabee, the wild-eyed blue state nutballs and robots they have competing against him won't fare any better. The only people who are deeply attached to the GOP at this point are hedge fund managers, denizens of the Village and the conservative evangelicals. Putting up Rudy McRomney won't change that.
update: It looks like the establishment Republicans have cranked up the old Arkansas Project to use against old Huck. Makes you feel young again...