The Huckabee Backlash

Ken AshfordElection 2008Leave a Comment

MONDAY MORNING UPDATE:  Typepad seems to be on the fritz.  I’m still posting, but nothing is showing.  I guess they’re working on it….

It’s kind of amusing to watch the GOP punditry lash out against Huckabee.  For years, they have courted the Christian conservative vote if only to get people like Bush in office.  People like Bush make a lot of promises about stopping abortion, keeping gays from getting married, and so on, but nothing happens.  You know why?  It’s a ruse to get the Christian conservative vote.

Now, along comes Huckabee, a TRUE Christian conservative himself, and all of a sudden you have GOP pundits screaming for the hills and even threatening to vote Democratic if Huckabee wins the GOP nomination.

Here is Dan Riehl on the prospect of a Huckabee nomination:

That Presidential “R” in 2008 will stand for nothing I believe in. The guy is slick but doesn’t even look competent. And if Republican primary voters are that stupid, they deserve to lose next Fall. To pass over McCain, Thompson, Romney and Giuliani ONLY because someone’s slick and a Jesus Freak, which makes him your average televangelist – forget it.

Regular readers of Dan Riehl will blanche at the phrase "Jesus Freak" to describe a Christian conservative.  He was quite happy with the rhetoric of christian conservatism, up until Huckabee of course.

Conservative writers are even exuding that kind of elitism that they usually claim belongs to liberals, as in this "Go Back To Dogpatch"-like advice to Huckabee from the conservative Corner:

That bait shop on the lake — it’s looking good. You’ll be surrounded by nice neighbors, real Christians, and you can be the smartest guy in the room. You can go out running every morning. Remember Huck — Jesus wouldn’t be dumb enough to go into politics.You were right on that one. Maybe it’s not what he wants from you either.

Then there is columnist Peggy Noonan who, although critical of Huckabee, makes an interesting (and true) observation about his impact on the GOP:

I wonder if our old friend Ronald Reagan could rise in this party, this environment. Not a regular churchgoer, said he experienced God riding his horse at the ranch, divorced, relaxed about the faiths of his friends and aides, or about its absence. He was a believing Christian, but he spent his adulthood in relativist Hollywood, and had a father who belonged to what some saw, and even see, as the Catholic cult. I’m just not sure he’d be pure enough to make it in this party. I’m not sure he’d be considered good enough.

Sully is right:

Every complacent secular Republican who has scorned those of us worried about the fundie right is beginning to squirm in the face of Huckabee’s surge.

So is Sadly No:

In this light, the horror at Huck’s rise is completely understandable. The GOP simply loved having the “idiot” vote as long as the idiots kept supporting tax-cuttin’ anti-gubmint candidates. When they start switching their support to someone who hasn’t been as faithful a supply-sider, then the economic elite will well and fully freak out.

As a Democrat, I am of course salivating at the prospect of a Huckabee nomination.

Sadly, even a win in Iowa (a distinct possibility) won’t be enough to sustain him.

But it’s nice to dream.

UPDATE:  The email letter to conservative pundit Rich Lowry gets to the heart of the schism that the GOP now finds itself in:

Rich, I think what a lot of evangelicals may be missing here is that many non-evangelical conservatives are completely baffled, and frustrated, by the amount of support for the non-conservative Bush-channeling Huckabee.  When we sit back and look at the amount of frustration and consternation that Bush has caused among conservatives, and then see Huckabee (who represents everything bad about Bush, with few of his positive characteristics) gaining the support of a fourth of our party, we have to ask ourselves why.  The most obvious answer seems to be that he is attracting so much support because he is the only evangelical candidate in the race. To many conservatives, well at least to me, this idea that we should betray conservative principles in order to support a candidate with the right religious credentials is more than shocking, it is abhorrent, and the result is an anti-evangelical backlash.  I consider myself a social conservative, and share so much common ground with evangelicals that it truly hurts me to see the strain being placed on our relationship.  But as long as their power is used to push a statist non-conservative candidate on our party, we will not be seeing eye-to-eye.