Ross Douthat doesn't believe that Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin represent the future of the Republican Party... although he apparently likes them better than anything else he sees.
This means that there are substantial political rewards awaiting the politician who becomes the voice of an intellectually vigorous conservatism. It probably won’t be Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin.Probably? What potential does Douthat see that either Palin or Huckabee is suddenly going to become intellectually curious?
If Republicans are lucky, though, it will be somebody who shares their charisma — but who prefers the responsibilities of leadership to the pleasures of celebrity.No, if Republicans are lucky they won't be looking at a Palin/Huckabee ticket on a Conservative Party ticket, Douthat himself having all-but-blessed abandoning the Republican Party in the name of ideological purity, even when the third party candidate offers nothing of substance.
Huckabee chooses celebrity because that's the only way he can remain relevant. If you listen to him speak, he's clearly thinking about running for President, trying to stir up anti-incumbent sentiments with talk of "flushing the toilet" (no party reference attached), and making a case that people should quit their day jobs before running for President. Palin seems content to rake in the bucks, literally capitalizing on the fact that you can fool some of the people all of the time. Her habit of quitting whenever the going gets tough probably does disqualify her as a presidential candidate, but what if she throws her weight behind Huckabee? If necessary, on a "flush 'em all" Conservative party ticket?
I know Douthat sees no benefit in trying to enforce ideological purity at the Presidential level, but he just might get his wish for a "scapegoat-priest-king" in the form of Pastor Mike. And really, if the first three potential Republican Party leaders that come to his mind are "Huckabee, Palin, and... I got nothing", his party has a problem.
Update: While Palin wouldn't rule out running with Glenn Beck, Beck has scoffed at the notion of a Palin/Beck ticket as opposed to Beck/Palin. How could Palin not have seen that coming?