But won’t Huckabee shatter the conservative coalition? That would be a little more persuasive if those saying this hadn’t shattered it themselves. The relative success of Ron Paul and Huckabee is not a cause of the coalition’s collapse but a reflection of it. An excessively Wilsonian foreign policy has divided defense conservatives; years of big spending has divided economic conservatives; and a tepid, stalling social conservatism has alienated moral ones.
Perhaps Huckabee can’t rebuild this coalition. But he isn’t likely to weaken it any more than have his critics, and he may even bring some long-disenchanted middle Americans into it.
The double standards for Huckabee and the other leading contenders are noticeable, especially when they are being applied by people who made excuses or at least looked the other way during one of the most liberal administrations of the last thirty years. As I said earlier this week:
The new story about Huckabee is that he is so un-conservative that he isn’t even as conservative as Bush, whom they now reject as non-conservative. What seems to be troubling these establishment critics of Huckabee is that he is no less conservative than Bush, and may be more so in some respects, but all of a sudden they have discovered a deep wellspring of uncompromising principle that does not allow them to tolerate Huckabee, even as they have cheered on Bush for seven years. This is an almost Romneyesque discovery of first principles in its novelty, and it is a bit hard to take seriously if you have been opposed to Bush from the beginning.