Saturday, December 22, 2007

What I Think Happened

I only have evidence for the idea that the GOP conspires to advance some candidates while working against others or leaving them to twist in the wind. I don't know if the thoughts I am about to share reflect what is actually happening with Huckabee- they are what I think is happening.

The Republican establishment tried to ram Rudy down the throat of the grassroots. It turned out that no amount of hitting the "Hillary Fear Button" could induce them to support him. Fellow CFR member Romney would have been OK too, but voters don't trust him either and seem to like him even less (I admire MR life of personal virtue, but Rudy has the charm). So they are having a problem with the grassroots. So they went to plan "C". Take a long-time Washington lobbyist whose short record in the Senate was more liberal than average for most of his years and re-package him as "the next Ronald Reagan". That plan, while it has not yet failed completely, is going very badly.

The establishment has to have a nominee, if for no other reason than to keep Paul from winning it. So, they started pumping up Mike Huckabee. Suddenly, he got lots of favorable air time and he has the personal tool set to use it to great advantage. But I don't think they wanted him to be the nominee. I think they wanted to pump him up enough to make him a viable VICE-presidential candidate. They wanted him to get on the ticket with Rudy in the hopes that this would make the GOP ticket palatable to religious right voters. They would then attempt to re-ram Rudy, because they are starting to run out of options.

It seems their plan to pump up Huckabee worked too well. They under-estimated the grassroots discontent. The Christian Right voters were so hungry for a candidate that they flocked to him. He gained too much momentum. That is why the GOP establishment media, almost on a dime and in near-unison, turned on Huckabee. His press is now almost unrelentingly negative. Of course, his actual record has a lot of negatives in it, including personal greed. But those are the kind of candidates that the establishment likes. They like advancing the careers of people that they "have the goods on". It makes them more pliable at crunch time. Witness the large number of sex scandals among some of the former GOP golden boys.

Mike Huckabee has shown the "moral flexibility" they are looking for in the person that they designate to placate Christian voters, but he has also shown some tendencies they would find troubling. He has a recurring history of betraying those who help him and going out of his way to please his enemies. They would not mind if this tendency only applied to letting down Christian voters- those chumps are just there for using anyway. But Huckabee has shown an equal willingness to turn on his corporate sponsors. We recently learned that R.J. Reynolds was one of his biggest early financial supporters, but now he is anti-tobacco all the way. His record with Arkansas business is also spotty. Sure he did all he could to keep them supplied with cheap illegal labor and helped the bond houses by paying them to sell debt even when we had the money on hand, but he blew off the Murphy Commission and let them down in other ways.

These big players are used to having politicians they can count on. Huckabee is hit-and-miss for them. Lately, he has been trying to show them his reliability and ease their minds (hoping I suppose that they will back off). Even though he is not a CFR member (limited to 3000 and he was not big enough until recently) he is now touting Richard Haas and other CFR members as his policy advisers.

This is what I think is happening.


Blogger The Real Sporer said...

An alternative explanation might be somewhat less controversial.

Huck is a hell of a candidate. He is likeable and clever, in and of themselves tremendous attributes. Huck consistently dominated the debates.

Huck is the most articulate pro-life candidate ever. Of course pro-life voters would flock to him once he got some air time.

Huck's support in Iowa goes far beyond the evangelical or even social conservative voters. His populist economic and energy message is very popular, lots of Rs (like the both of us I would guess) are P.O.'d at the concentration of wealth in large corporate entities but certainly not ready to embrae the socialism that the Ds offer as an alternative. Huck provides a free market alternative that is very attractive.

Huck has come out with a very good immigration plan and pretty good initial foreign policy blue print. This fills in some blanks and earns more support from security voters-a few of whom are now up for grabs with the Tank's departure from the scene.

Yes, hell of a candidate. This has made him a target of those who support other Rs and they are now fighting back. The Republican leadership is as divided as the proverbial "rank and file" Rs of all stripes.

The attacks on Huck are just routine primary stuff-not all that vicious. When its this close the negative messages flourish.

I wish the campaigns would keep it above the belt, but the never do. We are fortunate the the Dems look to have a long and bitter primary before them as well.

9:27 AM, December 23, 2007  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Ted I will defer to your judgment on the ground in Iowa. Yes, Huck is quite a candidate and speaker. I don't know what it is in the water down there in Hope Arkansas that makes for such good talkers.

As far as how he is campaigning currently, you are the expert. As far as how he actually governs, we lived under it for 10 years. There is a reason why way less than half the Ark. GOP legislators are backing him.

9:55 AM, December 23, 2007  
Blogger The Real Sporer said...

I agree re: some concerns. I very much wish to avoid a conservative, Christian or any other kind of nanny. Obviously I very much fear a liberal nanny, hence my Republican committment.

Unfortunately we lack the complete candidate. We have so idealized Ronnie Reagan that we forget his many departures from the ideal conservative.

Having said that, I am still undecided even this late. My short list has Huck on it (in part because I am a Republican small business kind of populist at heart) because I think he is a great campaigner and could win the general. Unfortunately, I find deficencies in all of the guys that are on my short list.

I am bullish on our candidates in the general, even the two or three that I know won't get my vote on January 3.

6:36 PM, December 27, 2007  

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