Monday, January 07, 2008

Huckabee and the GOP Establishment

A letter I sent to Prof. Kleiman, in response to his question "Will the neo-cons and money-cons swallow Huckabee?":

Until I saw the Kristol column, I thought they wouldn't. Over the past few days I've heard from my partisan Republicans friends who hate Huckabee and said that if it came down to the two of them in November, they would vote for Hillary over Huck. Yeah, it's bluster, but that's pretty mean.

Who do they support? It used to be Giuliani but recently they think he's imploding fast over his general weirdness. Thus they are now putting their ultimate hopes on John McCain. A few weeks ago they'd have painted McCain as a traitor, but now they realize that he's pretty conservative on most issues and is the most hawkish after Rudy, and that's ultimately what they care about.

Basically, I have been terribly worried about a Huckabee candidacy and I thought that there wasn't one voting bloc in the GOP that was both larger and more fervent than the Evangelical-Christianist base. All the other groups have been betrayed in one way or another but Bush has been disastrously consistent with his entanglement with the Christian base. And they want Huckabee. So who can rally enough anti-Christian ire in the GOP base? The answer are the "security-cons" - those who vote to protect America from the screaming Arab hordes hell-bent on conquering America and making our women wear burkas.

Kristol seems to be less concerned with that and more about the ultimate prize (as he indicates early on in his column): the Supreme Court. And just like Bush, if they get the right handlers around Huckabee, they can maybe control him. The question I suspect you and I are asking is whether they think it'll be easier to destroy him in the primaries or see if he can be successfully controlled.

Because Huck is not a pure soul (he's a disgraceful liar, as we've seen in his denials about Wayne Dumond and his penchant for accepting expensive gifts) there's a good chance that he will hold out a for-sale sign soon. If he doesn't, then the GOP establishment will crucify him (ugh) and rally behind whoever is number 2 at that point (Romney, McCain or even Thompson who miraculously got #3 in Iowa and #2 in Wyoming).

Kristol and the WSJ just sent out a message to him that they will be willing to buy if he's willing to sell. What we need to look for, those of us with eyes to see detail, are signs that Huckabee is holding out that for-sale sign.

What would the sign look like? Maybe hiring a few of the "right" consultants; e.g. once Giuliani implodes once and for all, will his foreign policy team go bodily to McCain or will one or two go to Huck.

P.S. When Hillary was the presumptive (anointed) nominee, the GOP machine wanted a candidate who would be able to beat her soundly. Hence Rudy's appeal (and McCain, Romney etc). However Obama is rising and now looks strong enough to be the Democratic candidate... and he will beat the stuffing out of every one in the GOP field. With the possible exception of Huckabee. Put simpler: if Rudy was the Anti-Hillary, Huckabee may be the only one who can be an anti-Obama, and that's why Kristol/WSJ may end up supporting him.

Or at least that's why Kristol etc is sending out feelers - if Obama is nominated, then the GOP may feel they need Huckabee to have a fighting chance (or at pull a Goldwater and energize their only remaining solid base). However if Hillary pulls it off and beats Obama then they'll try to crush Huckabee to avoid a loss for what will be a decent shot at winning.

Backpost finished 2009-12-14. Note that I was correct - except Kristol found someone even more Christ-y, and more malleable, than Huck: Palin.

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