Saturday, January 05, 2008

I Haven't Seen Him This Angry Since Clinton Was Elected....

Had Romney won in Iowa, would George Will be this angry?
Huckabee fancies himself persecuted by the Republican "establishment," a creature already negligible by 1964, when it failed to stop Barry Goldwater's nomination. The establishment's voice, the New York Herald Tribune, expired in 1966. Huckabee says that "only one explanation" fits his Iowa success "and it's not a human one. It's the same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a crowd of 5,000 people." God so loves Huckabee's politics that He worked a Midwest miracle on his behalf? Should someone so delusional control nuclear weapons?
Did Will similarly decry George W. Bush's allusions to being guided by the hand of God, or does it only matter in this case because will thinks Huckabee believes what he says, whereas G.W.... And that's the rub, isn't it?
Like Job after losing his camels and acquiring boils, the conservative movement is in distress. Mike Huckabee shreds the compact that has held the movement's two tendencies in sometimes uneasy equipoise. Social conservatives, many of whom share Huckabee's desire to "take back this nation for Christ," have collaborated with limited-government, market-oriented, capitalism-defending conservatives who want to take back the nation for James Madison. Under the doctrine that conservatives call "fusion," each faction has respected the other's agenda. Huckabee aggressively repudiates the Madisonians.
Huckabee's "faction" is supposed to bring out the voters for the wealthy elite who run the Republican Party, and gratefully accept the crumbs scattered to them following each election. There has long been the whisper that swing voters shouldn't be overly concerned about the Republican Party's overtures to the religious right, because they have no intention of carrying out their promises. The problem is, the religious right is dissatisfied with lip service. Having seen G.W. run the government with, for most of his tenure, a majority in both houses, it hasn't been lost on them that their agenda was not a priority.

I saw a chart this morning which reflected that the Republicans who are the angriest with their party are most likely to support Ron Paul. Those Republicans who are less angry with their party, but nonetheless angry, are turning to Huckabee. Why aren't they turning to Romney, who promises that (despite his record) he has been transformed into a social conservative? Could it be that they think he's a phony, and they don't see it as part of their "bargain" with the monied factions of the Republican Party to pretend that he represents their interests?

George Will has joined the efforts of the monied factions of the Republican Party to depict Huckabee as a populist liberal. This isn't a new approach, and hasn't worked very well for Romney. I guess they just don't see how, when every important battle within the party is resolved in favor of what Will deems the "Madisonian" faction, it is breaking their side to get behind the one candidate they believe will actually try to put their agenda first. Or, as David Brooks puts it,
Second, Huckabee understands much better than Mitt Romney that we have a crisis of authority in this country. People have lost faith in their leaders’ ability to respond to problems. While Romney embodies the leadership class, Huckabee went after it. He criticized Wall Street and K Street. Most importantly, he sensed that conservatives do not believe their own movement is well led. He took on Rush Limbaugh, the Club for Growth and even President Bush. The old guard threw everything they had at him, and their diminished power is now exposed.
And yes, that's enough to make George Will's head explode.

1 comment:

  1. Frank Rich observes:

    The party that has milked religious conservatives for votes for two decades is traumatized by the prospect that one of that ilk might actually become its standard-bearer. Especially if the candidate in question is a preacher who bashes Wall Street and hedge-fund managers and threatens to take a Christian attitude toward those too poor to benefit from the Bush tax cuts.


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