Saturday, October 18, 2008

Huck 2012

For the record, I blame what's going to happen on Election Day on everyone who supported McCain in the primaries (yes, my dear West Point grad nephew, that includes you! :-o ). Rather than waiting until November 5 and penning some melancholy screed—indeed, rather than writing much of anything myself at all—allow me to point you to some articles that I believe will prove to be prescient.

Andrew Romano has authored an article for Newsweek speculating that Republicans could be in much better shape right now if Huckabee had been the nominee. Romano's best point is that nobody in the GOP foresaw the "perfect storm" coming this Fall. I've always been suspicious of the whole process of dumping the candidate of my convictions in favor of a candidate that I adjudge "more electable." My convictions, I know; what it will take to be elected six months into the future, quite obviously, nobody knows.

Marc Ambinder has written an article for The Atlantic positing Huckabee as an early frontrunner for 2012. Who knows? But I do have some hope that the GOP will do what it cyclically does: Lick its wounds from having fatally supported a pseudo-conservative and choose someone convictional.

Whoever runs for the GOP in 2012 will have much better odds of winning because Matthew Continetti is right on the money when he writes for The Weekly Standard Here They Come: Democrats Gone Wild. We are about to experience (and hopefully survive) the least restrained self-indulgence of liberalism that our nation has ever witnessed. George McGovern will spend four years looking wistfully at the Obama White House. Americans will feel differently before it is all over, leading to Pat Buchanan's predicted "Coming Backlash."

I know…I know…the election hasn't taken place yet and McCain technically might win. But you people ought to listen to me about these things: Having followed Baylor football since 1988, I know a losing team when I see one.

17 comments:

Alan Cross said...

Hey, Bart. Long time no comment. I like Huckabee as well and am frustrated that he did not win the nomination.

Here's a question that I would love to see an answer to: Why did Huckabee not receive support from the leaders of the "Religious Right?" Why did Richard Land, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, etc. not support Huckabee? If they had come out behind him early, or at least acted more favorably towards him, it would have sent a signal that this was the guy to the Christian community that did not really know where to turn. Instead, they flirted with Guiliani, Romney, and McCain. By the time that people started listening to Huckabee and he stared winning primaries, it was too late.

Some have said that is has to do with bad feelings over old Baptist politics in Arkansas in the 1980's. At least that is why he didn't get support from SBC leadership (I don't know how much pull they have with the other leaders, but I imagine it is significant). From what I have heard from sources involved back then, this seems at least plausible. If so, what a shame that we are going to end up with Obama as president in part because of old wounds from SBC politics.

Bart Barber said...

Mornin', Alan.

Let's face it: Huckabee is a different kind of Republican. If you're a staunch smaller-government, fiscal-restraint, supply-sider Republican, then Huck might not be the strongest guy for your tastes.

Also, although Mike Huckabee was successful as Arkansas's governor, he was much less successful as the leader of the Arkansas GOP, in my estimation. I think that some people had reasonable questions about whether Huckabee could manage the kind of campaign that a national general presidential election requires. Even in his primary campaign, as you recall, he didn't build much of an "organization."

As for me, I just think that those are not the most important things in a presidential candidate. Huckabee has campaigning skills that more than offset any weaknesses he might have in the area of organization. And I vote values, not economics.

Bart Barber said...

Alan,

And I suppose I should mention this about the theory/rumor that you've heard: I really don't think that James Dobson, Pat Robertson, or Tony Perkins would allow internecine SBC politics to sway them in such a monumental choice as the endorsement (or lack thereof) of a presidential candidate. These folks pushed Sarah Palin (gibberish babbler), for Pete's sake! As I do, I think these guys manage pretty well to differentiate between what makes one a good Southern Baptist and what makes one a good presidential candidate.

The fact that Huckabee did not draw significant EVANGELICAL support necessitates that the objections were larger than the SBC. In addition to the reasons that I've already mentioned, I think that some people were merely skittish to go with a newcomer, especially if they imagined "newcomer" as a label that they might successfully have hung around Obama's neck by means of a more experienced candidate.

Anonymous said...

Bart,

I'm a bit more hopeful than you appear to be. Senator Obama appears to be a deft politician. Even if he gets over 300 electoral votes, I think he will know he's on 'probation'. I also think he'll have the wisdom of not letting Reid and Pelosi push him around. Remember, their ratings are even lower than President Bush's.

But for argument sake, let's say that he believes his own press and wants to make changes on the scope of FDR. Will he have the political capital? I don't think so. In our current situation, political capital is directly tied to 'real' capital, and we have none. I don't see a national health program passing in this season. If he doesn't get it done by 2010, it won't get done.

Meanwhile, back on the Republican ranch, somebody will figure out that they have not communicated a viable conservative message for the direction of our country. Just calling someone a socialist is not the same as offering a vision.

You mentioned Gov. Huckabee. As a populist, I think he will thrive in the post-free market environment we now are in. He really needs to look at crafting a message about how to encourage the market to drive innovation.

That's something the old school liberals will be unable to sell.

Mike

Bart Barber said...

Mike,

When I read your first sentence about being "hopeful," I thought for a moment that you were going to suggest the possibility of an Obama defeat on Nov 4. But I see that you're too wise for that.

Of course, we'll both soon see what Obama does. When your party controls the White House and both houses on the Hill, you pretty much have all of the political capital that you need. I suppose there's the chance that Obama will exercise some level of caution in the hopes of forestalling a massive mid-term thrashing like Bill Clinton suffered, but I doubt it.

Remember, he's the one he's been waiting for. I think he'll be sworn in on a copy of Das Kapital and will go right to work.

Anonymous said...

Bart,

I'm counting on him learning the lessons of Bill Clinton and George Bush. Sure, I'm an idealist!

The lesson? Just because you have the numbers to attempt to force your agenda through does not necessarily mean that you should.

It happened in 1992-1994 and universal health care (among other things) was stalled for over a decade because Congress switched hands.

It happened in 2000-2002 with massive deregulation and you're potentially seeing the answer to a trivia question 100 years from now: "When did the United States become a socialist state?"

There is only so much elasticity in the rubber band of change. Push too hard, and it will snap back at you with a vengeance.

Mike

Dwight said...

Hello Bart,

It was good talking to you by phone a month or so ago, Great Post! I too supported Huckabee in the primary. I also vote values not economics. If Huckabee runs in 2012, I will probably support him then as well.
Question: Why did you find it necessary in your response to Alan to label Sarah Palin a “gibberish babbler”? I’m aware that Palin was a member of a charismatic church for many years and probably has spoken or does pray in tongues in private just as Paul testified that he did in Corinthians 14:2. Are you intimating or suggesting that Palin is disqualified as a Vice-Presidential nominee because she possibly prays in tongues in private? By the way, I’ve also read where Palin, although, again having attended a charismatic church for much of her life has never publicly or privately spoken in tongues. Nevertheless, I’m a little bit astounded that you would see that as a disqualifier for the vice president office, maybe, I’m misunderstanding you. Please respond.
Dwight

Bart Barber said...

Dwight,

I phrased it in the harshest of terms to make the point. Alan had suggested that reluctance to support Huckabee might have arisen out of SBC politics. Yet these same people are enthusiastic supporters of Palin, who would ALSO run afoul of the SBC-related convictions of those Alan seems to regard as "Religious Right" power-brokers within the SBC.

If internal SBC tensions would disqualify Huckabee, why wouldn't they have disqualified Palin, whom Alan (given the positions he's taken in his blog) might expect the same people to regard as a "gibberish babbler"?

The answer is simply this: Reluctance to support Huckabee arose out of matters other than internal SBC issues.

Man, I'm sure glad that you're feeling better!

Bart Barber said...

BTW,

My bumper-sticker says "Sarah!" with a much smaller "McCain" on the bottom.

Alan Cross said...

Bart,

SBC power brokers have long put their convictions over theological issues on the sideline when it comes to politics. More than one was lining up to support Mitt Romney, if I remember correctly. The issue with Huckabee was that many in conservative SBC circles did not like him because he "did not have enough blood on his hands" in the baptist battles in Arkansas back in the 1980's. That is what I was told, anyway.

The silence of Richard Land, et al, when it came to Huckabee was noticable.

As far as "gibberish babblers" go, that derogatory term adequately describes both candidates this election season, in my opinion. It appears that our choices are "slim" and "none."

Bart Barber said...

Alan,

:-)

I think I concur entirely about our candidates.

I also think that a lot of SBC folks would say precisely what you've alleged about Mike Huckabee. I think those factors would cause them not to support him as a candidate for president of the SBC. But I think it had absolutely nothing to do with any reluctance to endorse him as a candidate for POTUS.

Bill said...

McCain's problem is that he's a Republican. I know alot of folks don't want to hear it or believe it, but George W. Bush is by some measures the most unpopular president in the history of this country. Any Republican candidate is facing a steep uphill battle in this election. McCain felt he had to move toward Bush to win the nomination, and now he's scrambling to move away from Bush to have a hope in the general election.

cameron coyle said...

So have you drafted a post yet for Nov 5 explaining how McCain pulled it off, if he manages it?

I'm no prophet or anything, but I wouldn't want you to be unprepared. ;)

Anonymous said...

All of you guys are going to hate my opinion, but here goes.

I did not support Huckabee and believe that his entry into the race hopelessly split the conservative vote to almost insure that a moderate with a block vote (McCain - the old people and the veterans) would win.

Too many evangelicals are unsophisticated and reflexively vote for someone who looks and sounds like they do. That is exactly what happened in Iowa and it had disastrous consequences.

The reason I did not support Huckabee are, one, I could care less about identity politics. Just because Huckabee is an evangelical doesn't mean that I would support him. Martin Luther's statement, "I would rather vote for a competent Turk than an incompetent Christian" (or something like that) applies here.

Two, many of my fellow evangelicals from Arkansas who knew him best were opposed to Huckabee because, they say, he campaigned one way, and then governed exactly the opposite of how he campaigned. I would refer you to Eagle Forum in Arkansas, and its former state chapter President. She said after Huckabee's governance in Arkansas, she could never vote for him. The Wall Street Journal did an article about Huckabee and the ambivlaent and opposing feelings many evangelicals had for him. I encourage all reading this to search for that article and read it.

I will say that Huckabee made a good showing and did not come off as a buffoon (like Pat Robertson in 1988), and as an evangelical, I am glad for that.

Also, I caught a few minutes of his new TV show the other night. It was good. I hope it is a success. He should stay on TV.

But I would much rather have had Thompson, Hunter, Romney, even the megalomaniac Guiliani than Huckabee. I would have put Huckabee above McCain, but barely.

Also, people should know that the Dems were laughing all the way to the convention about Huckabee. Both the Clinton and Obama campaigns intentionally laid off any criticism of Huckabee during the campaign. The DNC ran tons of negative stories about Romney, Guiliani, McCain, etc. Hardly any about Huckabee. The Wall Street Journal also had an article about this, as I recall. The DNC was hoping that the many Christians would vote for a guy who had absolutely no chance of being President in order to split the primary vote so that the GOP would end up with a nominee that was from the minority position in the party, and thus, had very little popular support. That is McCain exactly.

The only thing that has energized the McCain ticket was the desperate long bomb throw to Palin. It almost worked. But it is not enough to resurrect a man who has a brave and storied past, but who is old, feeble, out of step with many conservative values and issues, and who is no match for a youthful, handsome, energized and forward thinking Obama.

Maybe the 2008 primaries taught Christians in the Republican party a couple of things. But I am dubious. Just as Jimmy Carter looked great to evangelicals in 1976 because "he is one of us", so, too, Huckabee looked good in 2008. I suspect that Richard Land and others were simply a little more in the know (maybe they read the Wall Street Journal and such publications), but that the rank and file are just so itching for an evangelical to vote for that they are easily manipulated.

So, I don't expect to be voting for Huckabee in '08 or '12 or ever. I do hope, however, that he stays on TV. He does have that game show host quality about him, and he makes a positive impression.

Louis

Bart Barber said...

Louis,

I grew up in Arkansas, and I still have a lot of relationships there. Huckabee must not have been TOO unpopular there—he had a knack for winning successive elections there.

I can resonate with Luther's comment, and I choose a political candidate based upon his political views, and not as a part of "identity politics." To go down your list:

1. Thompson: I considered supporting him. Has he decided yet whether he intends to run?

2. Hunter: Worthy of consideration.

3. Romney: Mr. pro-abortion when he runs for MA office, but suddenly converted to pro-life views just in time for the national GOP primary? Uh....riiiiiiight.

4. Giuliani: Nope. I'm not voting for ANYBODY who is pro-abortion. I'd return to my roots in the Democrat party first.

So, there it stands. But don't think that I'm going to "hate" your opinions. This is just politics, not something really important like theology.

Anonymous said...

Bart:

Good line on the politics issue.

Do you know why many conservatives in Arkansas don't like Huckabee? I have heard complaints about his education and immigration policies.

Louis

Dwight said...

Bart,

Do you consider the view that taking birth control pills is “sin,” “wrong” and “murder” a “biblical worldview”? On the other hand, did I and hundreds of others misunderstand Dr. White’s message? Are Thomas White’s views on birth control the BI position? Do you categorically embrace Dr. White’s entire message without any reservations? Are using birth control pills in marriage tantamount to practicing “the American worldview against the biblical worldview”? Is this the BI position? I await your response.


Dwight