Rod commented on Huckabee’s recent “pandering” on the battle flag:
Similarly with Huck’s pandering on the Confederate flag. If he really believed that stuff, that’d be one thing. But I don’t think he really believes it.
Here’s the thing that puzzles me a bit about the reaction to Huckabee and his comments on the flag, which Ross has dubbed “unsavory”: this was the position that helped Bush in South Carolina eight years ago and helped sink McCain. So you can put this in the “Huckabee is running like Bush in 2000″ file, since this was exactly Bush’s position in 2000. That is, leave it to South Carolinians to decide. From what I’ve seen, Huckabee didn’t give a stirring ode to the importance of the battle flag, or the sacrifices of Southern soldiers who fought under it, but said simply that non-South Carolinians should generally keep their noses out of South Carolinian business on this question. This has the virtue of being what I think is probably a widely-held view in South Carolina and also the correct one. (Though how he reconciles his hostility to “outsiders” meddling in South Carolinian affairs with his disparaging remarks about federalism in other matters is another story!) The effect of this pander is mitigated or complicated somewhat by the fact that he is campaigning alongside a former governor of South Carolina, David Beasley, who pressed successfully to have the flag removed from the state capitol’s dome. This sends the message: “I am with Beasley, but it’s not up to me to decide what you do with your flag.” That’s about as close to threading this particular needle as it gets. Huckabee’s problem might be that people who value the battle flag will view him poorly because of the Beasley connection, while he will get no “credit” from others for being associated with Beasley. That’s the problem with living off free media–you become in the public’s perception what they say you are.
I don’t dispute that his flag remarks are a kind of pandering, but it isn’t the head-spinning, neck-snapping kind of radical change in a policy view that Huckabee’s signing of the “No Amnesty” pledge is, but even this isn’t purely pandering just for South Carolina. It was direct pandering when he adopted an anti-amnesty position in Iowa after having had a quite liberal record on immigration, and now he is simply confirming or reinforcing his earlier about-face. Viewed in a favourable way, he has locked himself in with a public pledge to oppose something that he had previously rejected only in rhetoric. Viewed skeptically, as I would view it, he has simply repeated his earlier opportunism. In case you’ve forgotten, his earlier opportunism worked out pretty well for him, so he probably thinks he can succeed with it again.