As long-time bloggingheads viewers and readers of his columns know, Jim Pinkerton has been pushing for Mike Huckabee for months, and now comes the claim that he is apparently formally joining the Huckabee team. Given how strong Mr. Pinkerton’s views on immigration and border security are, I have always been a bit perplexed by his enthusiasm for Huckabee, but with Huckabee’s recent pivot on immigration it seems as if more restrictionist and enforcement-first conservatives are openly supporting him. Elsewhere, Rod Dreher has declared for Huckabee.
In case any of you were worried, let me assure my readers that this is something that I will never do. As the natural “new fusionist” candidate, the second coming of Bush, the apostle of Gersonism, Huckabee represents everything wrong with the politics of the GOP in the last seven years. I say this not because he is a social conservative, religious or Southern–those are the least of Republicans’ problems, if they could but see clearly. If you were disaffected and alienated by Bush, you will be driven out of your mind by Huckabee. This is all the more serious because Huckabee really does have the best chance of winning on the Republican side. Perversely, one almost needs to hope for a Romney or McCain nomination, since that may be the only thing now that will save us from Huckabee. Thompson has all but eliminated himself, and Giuliani is all but finished.
Obviously, I have also taken an interest in trying to understand and, when possible, explain the rise of Huckabee, because I have found it startling and more than a little odd. Unlike with the other three leading candidates, I do not feel the same kind of immediate revulsion and distaste with Huckabee. Each time I am inclined to cheer him on as an anti-establishment candidate, I have to remind myself that he really isn’t any such thing. Despite my willingness to give his statements the benefit of the doubt, I have tried to do this in the interests of accuracy and fairness to what he has actually said, but on no account do I want this man to be President. No doubt, some of his supporters read Crunchy Cons and like what they find, some of them could be part of those Middle American Radicals Sam Francis described long ago, and many of them are probably the people Ross and Reihan are describing in their forthcoming book, but this is exactly what is wrong with Huckabee’s candidacy. He draws in these people from these three very different parts of the population and relies on them for his political success, but I have no confidence that he would govern in their interests or according to their views. It’s the same con that Bush used against evangelicals and social conservatives. Because he could claim plausibly enough that he was “one of them,” he felt that he owed them nothing and could take them for granted, and by and large they allowed this to happen and happily re-elected him anyway. Now there is the hope that Huckabee is really “one of them” and will really govern in their interests, because he once said some mean things about Wall Street, but he won’t. In order for politicians to dupe you, you must be willing to be duped. This is what Huckabee is doing, just as Bush did before, and I’m afraid people are falling for it all over again.
By all rights, everyone who cannot bring himself, for whatever reason, to endorse Ron Paul ought to come to the same conclusion as Human Events’ editors did. If you rule out Paul, Thompson is the only one that makes sense. It doesn’t matter that his campaign is hopeless and his stump appearances cure insomnia. It doesn’t matter that his face reminds you of Anakin Skywalker at the climax of Return of the Jedi. Even then he is better than these other people. Thompson can give you plenty of phony populism, but his policy views aren’t for the most part incoherent or crazy. His foreign policy views trouble me, naturally, but given the futility of his campaign there are no risks that he will be in any position to do much damage. Liz Cheney will certainly never be on the National Security Council, because Thompson isn’t going to get past Florida.
Having said that, I remain, as always, a Ron Paul supporter. Those who prefer the ethically challenged pardoner of murderers, the serially deceitful, the associate of mobbed-up indicted crooks, the Cheney crony or the warmonger are, of course, free to support whomever they like. Let’s just not pretend that it’s because they are somehow morally superior to the lone constitutionalist and opponent of the war.