December 19, 2007


Giuliani-Huckabee contest could split GOP (W. James Antle III, Dec 19, 2007, Politico)

A Giuliani-Huckabee race may be a surprise, but for Republicans it would not be a welcome one. Ideologically and geographically, the two candidates are almost perfectly positioned to tear apart their party.

Giuliani, the Northeastern social liberal, is strongly favored by many fiscal conservatives and national security hawks. He is a tax-cutter who emphasizes supply-side doctrines in his ads, and many on the right hope his law-and-order record in New York will translate into success in the war on terror.

Writing in the Weekly Standard, Noemie Emery acknowledged Giuliani's deficiencies on abortion and other social issues but argued "in a time of national peril" such litmus tests are "a luxury we cannot afford."

By contrast, Huckabee, the Southerner and onetime Baptist preacher, is reliably conservative on abortion, same-sex marriage and the role of religion in the public square.

You'd think the secular Right would have kicked this delusion a long time ago, but maybe thirty years is too long for a lesson to stay learned. All the same sorts of folks were afraid of the evangelical zealot Ronald Reagan, so they kept John Anderson in the race, as a repository of Northeastern establishment hope. But the election demonstrated that, like the Shi'a of Iraq, social conservatives were far more numerous than the elites dreamed.

Handle Huckabee with Care (Lee Harris, 18 Dec 2007, Tech Central Station)

Today in a world in which it is inadmissible to say a word against anyone's religion, there is an open season on Christian fundamentalists. You may call them ignorant boobs and idiots, and there is no one in the public forum to call you down for it.

Much of this attack takes the odious form of snobbery. It is true that the Southern Baptist church has seldom been the home of the elite, social or intellectual. On the contrary, it began as the religion of the poor and the uneducated, those who farmed their own land and made things with their own hands. The Southern Baptist religion was never the opium of the people—it was more like their methamphetamine, revving them up, stirring them to revival, exhorting them to missionary work. In the nineteenth century, there were many rural Baptist congregations where the preacher was not even paid, on the grounds that a paid preacher might start giving himself airs. The preacher man was simply the man who stood up and preached from the heart. If the congregation liked what they heard, he could stick around; if not, he was gone. Nobody told the Southern Baptists what they could and couldn't think—not even each other, which is why they kept dividing off into new congregations so frequently. You still can't tell them what to think, which is perhaps why the intellectual elite distrusts them—they stubbornly refuse to take the word of those who are so clearly their cerebral superiors.

Today there is high drama in the Republican Party. A Baptist preacher, running for the Presidency on a shoe-string budget, has gained a momentum that no one in the Republican establishment anticipated, and that no one knows quite what to do about. If the Republican establishment cannot stop him, it will face a difficult future. It will be forced either into opposition to its own nominee, or worst, its own President; or it will have to follow the lead of a man who simply isn't "one of us." And, indeed, a candidate who appears to have figured out how to win votes without requiring other people's money is an obvious affront to any establishment—a fact that may explain the fury of the Anybody But Huckabee tsunami that may well pose a much greater danger to the Republican establishment than it poses to the intended object of their fury, and here's why.

More and more, the attack on Huckabee has become a not very subtle attack on his Christian fundamentalism. This would pose no problem if the Republicans could dispense with the vote of Christian fundamentalists, but it cannot hope to win the indispensable states in the South without them. This is simple arithmetic. Now all would be well if the Christian fundamentalists were the clueless morons that they are alleged to be by those cultured despisers, but they are not. At the very minimum they have the same intelligence of sheep who, if fleeced once too often, will begin to think that they are merely being used, and not looked after. The Left has long charged the Republican establishment with cynically manipulating Christian social conservatives in order to further the agenda of the vested interests, duping the hicks with promises of cultural conservatism in order to get them to swallow tax breaks to the greedy rich. If the Republican establishment is really interested in self-immolation, they need only give Christian conservatives a good reason to suspect them of such crass manipulation of their deeply held convictions by those who look down on them with contempt and derision.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 19, 2007 11:08 AM

It's worth remembering that Mr Anderson proposed a Constitutional ammendment that the Law and Authority of Jesus Christ should be recognized by the U.S. Government. Most of Anderson's supporters don't know that about him, but that's their problem.
He proposed this ammendment three times, by the way.

Posted by: rudersdorf at December 19, 2007 2:54 PM

I remember that Anderson appealed to a lot of the people I knew from college, especially after it became obvious that the Mass. Lifeguard wasn't going to replace Carter as the nominee. They finally figured out that Carter was a loser and failure, but couldn't stand the idea of a non-Progressive like that troglodyte Reagan replacing him. So the guy with the white hair got their vote.

It was the same year that the Libertarian Party was all gung-ho about how Ed Clark was going to get a million votes, thus showing that there was a real "third party" out there. Thanks to Anderson sucking up all the idiot protest votes, they were a poor fourth instead, with something like a quarter million votes.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at December 19, 2007 5:50 PM