Saturday, December 22, 2007

In 2007: The Huck

By now, no one should be surprised by the apotheosis of Mike Huckabee. After the shock of the first polls worse off – the ones that showed the ex-governor weight loss success story polling even in Iowa with the Mitt-Magical Mitt Romney – the attention rapidly refocused from "How?" to "How come not sooner?" Especially after Brownback's early exit, the Evangelical right was lost in the wilderness, leaving figures like James Dobson to, if not jump into bed with a hypothetical Right-to-Life Party, at least start buying it a few drinks. And then there was Huckabee.

This year saw the Republicans switch their "it" candidate seemingly every news cycle, tapping Giuliani and Romney to lead the pack, then Thompson to take them down, then Paul to fill in when it seemed the GOP couldn't count on another actor-turned-politico to unite the factions of the coalition, bring Morning to America, and topple the goliaths of the Democratic ticket. Still, the Right's recent penchant for one-night stands of loyalty may justify the inclusion of any number of events on this list – perhaps most comically the precipitous fall in Thompson's numbers after he actually started running for President – but Huckabee is about more than the horse race. He's about identity.

In any political coalition, there is tension. The Democratic Party of the early 1960's were perhaps the case study of this when their tent was so large that it included both black people and southern whites who didn't really think the second word in that phrase belonged there. Johnson signed away the latter, and the Democrats are still struggling to pull together another coalition of voters that will give them a lasting majority. Today, the Republicans are fighting to hold theirs together. And at the seams, is the smiling face of Mike Huckabee.

It would be an oversimiplification and likely a misrepresentation to say that a Huckabee-Clinton race would be a social conservative/economic progressive against a social liberal/economic neoliberal, but it does point to a strange future in which we may yet find ourselves. The Democratic Leadership Council, Evangelical Christians, Labor Unions, and Libertarian-leaning Republicans are all trying to steer their parties in their direction, and nothing less than the very core identity of those parties is at stake.


Brendan K. said...

In 2007: Darryl worked the word "apotheosis" into every post he wrote.

Can I just say that I'm fucking sick of Ron Paul? He's a barely-past-fringe candidate yet feels more overexposed than John Edwards rocking the speedo on a Cape Fear vacation.

Steven Simunic said...

Anyone who name drops Sinclair Lewis into one of his speeches is alright in my book.

At least Paul is an interesting personality, which is more than I can say for these other charisma-cyphers the Republicans are trotting out.

Steven Simunic said...

Also, it was Ron Paul who referenced Lewis. In case that wasn't clear. Which it wasn't.

Darryl said...

Ron Paul has all these quirky little things going for him that are kind of cute until i take a step back and think, "wait a second, he's actually a legitimate candidate for the presidency of the united state of america"