January 7, 2008


The Pilot vs. The Preacher: McCain and Huckabee are human, at times too cute, and can be self-defeating. That's why this thing is going to be fun. (Evan Thomas and Holly Bailey, Jan 14, 2008, Newsweek)

John McCain and Mike Huckabee have been exceedingly polite to each other. After Iowa, McCain praised Huckabee as a man who has "run a very good, smart, positive campaign," and he has repeatedly praised Huckabee's "decency" and "integrity." Huckabee gushed that McCain "is a hero in this country. He's a hero to me." They aim their scorn at Mitt Romney. The lesson of the Iowa caucuses, said McCain, was, "one, you can't buy an election in Iowa, and two, negative campaigns don't work"—a clear dig at Romney, who outspent Huckabee by about 20 to 1 and bought a slew of ads trashing his opponent. In his faux-innocent, aw-shucks way, Huckabee took the most wicked shot at Romney about a month ago, asking, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the Devil are brothers?" (He later apologized.)

Openly praising each other while slyly knifing a mutual foe can work for a while. Romney makes a useful foil. As depicted by McCain and Huckabee, the former governor of Massachusetts is the robo-candidate, the plastic pol who will say anything and spend as much as necessary to win. McCain and Huckabee, meanwhile, are the "authentic" ones, the anti-politicians who represent the change Americans crave, or seem to, judging from the turnout at the Iowa caucuses.

One of the two is going to be the nominee and the Democrats' may already be decided after tomorrow. As rather non-partisan figures they undercut the entire (overt) sales pitch of Senator Obama's candidacy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 7, 2008 3:29 PM
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