Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Huckabee in McCain's Bonnet

Smugness often glares in print. Consider double also-ran Henry Clay's 1840s comment that he'd rather be right than president.

Today's version is the self-effacing Mike Huckabee, in quitting the GOP race. His long-winded version in his concession speech was, "I'd rather lose an election than lose the principles that got me into politics in the first place."

In fairness to Clay, he was not only not president, he was right. He was strongly anti-slavery when it took insight and considerable courage. Huckabee, well, he's a pleasant enough guy who checks his brains at the door too often.

Huckabee's website's abridged version of the speech stresses his call for Republican unity. He puts this with an odd qualification though:
While many in the establishment never really believed I belonged, there were many in the country that did. Thanks to their sacrifices, I had a voice – and I only pray that I have been able to give them a voice.
I am reading, "Nearly one out of three think I'm right. Ignore them at your peril, Johnny!"

In light of all the results, there were minor flares indicating there may be a way to go with that unity. The outliers still on the menu in various states had their wee followings even yesterday.


Ron Paul

Mitt Romney




Rhode Island









Of course, the party is and should be far more concerned about Huckabee's victories in three caucus states (Iowa, Kansas and West Virginia) and five primary ones (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee). Coupled with his solid polling in the states he lost (but often came in second), that puts extra pressure on the right vice presidential candidate to pull in evangelicals and social conservatives.

Not surprisingly, he invoked his religion repeatedly — St. Paul and Isiah. However, the earthly power he called into play was an army of the underclasses. He verbally assembled an impressive host of folk, seemingly as a warning to this party.

In thanking his small contributors, he said "Those are the folks who have given me a voice, and I only pray to God that I've been able to give them a voice..." His list then included:

  • unborn children of this country
  • hard-working people
  • (everyone) who puts on a uniform and keeps us free
  • every small business owner
  • single moms
  • guys...working two shifts

Then he had to break from his list of carefully crafted tropes to conclude:

For all of the conservatives of this country and party who want less government and who want what government they have to be a little more efficient, a little more effective, a little less filled with corruption, and a whole lot filled with the kind of competence that we pay for, I also believe that there are people out there for whom I hope I've given a voice, and that's the people who believe that we need to really overhaul our tax system and implement the Fair Tax and get rid of the IRS.
Those are his claims and I'm sure he'll stick to them. It remains to be seen whether his press-ganged army wants any GOP platform changes as a "group."

Huckabee's candidacy and programs differ so vastly from John McCain's that the Republican Party may have to hope that his former supporters vote begrudgingly to keep a Dem out of office or that they just stay home in November. Until the party reinvents itself as it has successfully several times, there'll be no unity. The King-James-told-me-so and love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin folk aren't about to make up with social moderates.

There can be no Huckabee vice presidency or even a cabinet slot, unless McCain introduces a Secretary of Mumbo Jumbo.

In a bit of historic eloquence, Huckabee delivered his concession in Texas with an Alamo ending. He spoke of how inspiring the dedication was of the 13-day holdouts there, knowing they'd die in their cause. He used that to return to his smug theme — "These were people who understood their battle was not about them. It was about the principles of liberty that they deemed more important than their own lives. "

While that's again an apt, if melodramatic, analogy for his failed campaign, it has an implicit message for McCain and party officials that maybe only Texans and those up on their history got. The seemingly meaningless loss at the Alamo actually delayed the Mexican army enough for Sam Houston's forces to mass and win the real battle, at San Jacinto, a short time later.

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Jos76 said...

I'm shocked and disappointed that Huckabee would take money from struggling, hard-working Americans in order to fund his campaign. He said in his drop-out speech that it was..."the sacrifices of a truck driver in Michigan, of a housewife who sold her wedding ring on eBay and gave the contribution to the campaign, a janitor in Alabama who has a wife in a wheelchair who gave $20, not out of his abundance, but out of his poverty, so that our campaign could stay on the track." In a bad economy, why would someone running for President take their money to fund a campaign that was clearly going to be fruitless? What would become of the economy if selfish Huckabee were President?

Anonymous said...

I a just a-hopin and a-prayin to the god I don't believe in that Huckabee isn't McCain's VP nominee. My husband thinks that's exactly what will happen. Oh lord, help us all if this is the case. We are talking about a man who refuses to say the earth is NOT 6,000 years old. The thought of it just makes me want to cry.

massmarrier said...

I"ll bet with you against your hubby. Huck and McCain are so radically different they don't have the stomach for each other. I can't imagine McCain wanting Huckabee being on deck if he's incapacitated either. Unfortunately, the Republicans have a long time to find someone they think can bring in the South and the far wingers.