Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mike Huckabee, evil genius

So Huckabee sends a "Merry Christmas" TV ad to Iowa, and catches all kinds of grief because of a supposed subliminal message of a cross in the background (a lighted white bookshelf.)

Leave it to our friends at Rolling Stone to summarize the brilliance of Huckabee's response to the gnashing of teeth the ad inspired amongst Huck-haters:

I gotta give the Huckster credit.

When’s the last time we saw a member of the religious right who was fluent enough in the touchstones of the 60’s left to pull off a one-liner like this:

“I will confess this: If you play the spot backwards it says, ‘Paul is dead. Paul is dead.’

It is funny -- Huckabee's opponents can't decide whether to deride him for being a stupid Christian hick or to fear him as the fearsome purveyor of ingenious subliminal messages.

More accurate is that Huckabee is about the most pitch-perfect stump-speech politician in the race right now in either party -- it doesn't appear that it will last (what candidate could withstand the kind of withering assault Huckabee has been enduring from his own party?) -- but what he has accomplished has been through exactly that sort of instinctive skill at connecting with those he needs to connect with and defusing tension with those he needs to make peace with.

The vehemence of the response within the GOP establishment and the official conservative chattering class to Huckabee's rise has been truly breathtaking.

Margaret Carlson, in a recent piece predicting a bust for Mike Huckabee, makes an observation that in a nutshell encapsulates the phenomenon:

He really is a compassionate conservative, the kind who drives the low-tax, small-government wing of his party insane.

Don't the Christian conservatives realize they are the foot soldiers of the Republican party, not its candidates?

We actually believe that the risk of Huckabee being a high-tax, big-government President is vastly overstated, but regardless, this is the charge being laid at his feet.

Even Kos gets this part of the "get back to the rear of the bus" narrative. (HT: Jay at LITW.) He of course neglects to mention that the hissy-fits that the Clinton camp is throwing over Sen. Obama's upstart rise are part of a parallel narrative -- racial minorities are supposed to carry water for Democratic nominees, not be the nominees.

Of course, the Clintons can't say that out loud too much, whereas the Republican establishment can and does get by with explicitly and openly deriding Huckabee because of his evangelical religious beliefs (quite an irony, since the same individuals accuse evangelicals of having a "religious test" because of their lack of excitement over a candidate who prior to last year was a liberal northeastern governor who endorsed Democrats over Republicans.)

In the middle of this non-stop attack mode, one notes that it is a symptom of how out of touch that establishment is that they assume that social conservatives don't own computers and don't know how to read.

For if they realized that their words about Huckabee, his faith, and his supporters were going to be read by those they will be expecting to be their foot-soldiers next fall, one would expect them to be a little more circumspect than they have been.

Meanwhile, "Crunchy Con" Rod Dreher (who we last mentioned in what proved to be one of MH's most widely read posts,) writes a recent column in which he mentions the anti-Huckabee tantrums thrown by Giuliani supporter Lisa Schiffren at National Review Online "pithily summarized by (another blogger) as, "Go back to Dogpatch, you stupid hillbilly."

We noted her screeds at the time they were written last week, and were surprised that the good folks at NRO were printing that kind of stuff and might yet be entertaining fantasies of being able to mobilize Christian conservatives on behalf of the eventual GOP nominee.

Dreher (who is not an evangelical,) summarizes some of the ways in which the GOP establishment has used social conservatives while paying lip-service to many of their concerns (which are non-negotiable when it comes to social conservatism but which also include "Main Street" populist concerns that don't fit neatly into the priorities of corporate America.) He closes with words that can't help but arouse sympathy in some corners:

The marvelous Ron Paul excepted, most of the GOP candidates are about the end of something. Mike Huckabee is about the beginning of the next big thing in Republican politics. As a disaffected conservative who does not yet know for whom he's going to vote, it's a pleasure to watch the plain-talking outsider's rise.

If you ask me, the howls and alarm bells sounded by GOP mandarins panicking over the Huckabeean revolt make a rousing soundtrack for a toga party in Dogpatch.

Indeed. We really can't see Huckabee recovering from the kind of beating he is taking -- which makes us inclined to want to believe that Fred Thompson may actually be showing signs of coming back from the dead. Things just keep getting more interesting.

No comments: