January 7, 2008 - December 31, 2007
Thanks, Iowa. Now we know what you
want -- a wholesale flight from reality into the promised land of
pious, empty rhetoric. And I'm not talking just about Huckabee. He may
thump the Bible more than Obama, but they're both interpreting the term
"bully pulpit" as literally as the Hawkeyes interpret the Book of
Genesis. Here are the two victory speeches. As you listen, close your
eyes and try to decide which one would make us sicker of his
preachifying over four or eight years.
I call it a toss-up. It entirely depends on whether you're more
nauseated by smarmy, self-satisfied religiosity or dreary incantational
delivered in tent-revival dialect.
If that's really what you want, fine. Go for it. But shouldn't there be some content besides platitudes about hope and change and a new day in America? For example, I'd feel a lot better about both these gents if they'd demonstrated a particle of knowledge about a country that didn't even exist when the boilerplate in their stump sermons received its first halleluiahs from a Sunday congregation. Maybe that's why Huckabee doesn't know that Pakistan lies to the east of Afghanistan. And maybe that's why Obama thinks Bush was stupid to invade Iraq (pop. 27 million) instead of Pakistan (pop. 150 million), 40 percent of whom admire Osama bin Laden, to win the war on terror without needless loss of life. (I admit there's no explaining why Hillary Clinton knows nothing whatever about the current political situation in Pakistan, but that's a different kettle of fish.)
I understand the yearning of many Americans to return to a simpler
time, before 9/11 and all the unseemly ruckus it has caused, but let's
not go all the way back to 1860, or even 1960. Please.
That old-time religion is a hymn, not a political platform. If we forget that, the time we're really going to return to is the administration of Jimmy Carter. Which, if memory serves, didn't result in too many hosannas.
This is a reality check for all you earnest Huckabee supporters. You
may think you're striking a blow for the religious right by flocking to
his banner, but that deep, consuming impetus you're feeling is not so
much the victorious charge of crusaders as the mob lunacy of lemmings.
If you succeed in nominating Huckabee, you will be putting the sword to
your own political influence in this country for the remainder of your
lifetimes. I kid you not.
I'm going to tell you the things no one else is willing to say. The Democrats won't say them because the Huck-a-Boom is, to them, an orgasmically delicious confirmation of all the worst things they have ever thought about you, and they will be ecstatically pleased to watch you destroy yourselves in his behalf. The Republicans -- even the staunchest conservatives who have supported your causes in the past -- won't say them because they don't want what the liberals think about you to be accurate, and they are deathly afraid that it is. Their rapidly fading hope is that you'll come to your senses before the awful truth has to be dumped on your heads like a 55-gallon drum of ice-cold gatorade. In short, they're afraid of pissing you off. But I don't want the liberals to win, and I don't care if I hurt your feelings. Because you're being dopes.
There are only two possibilities about who Mike Huckabee is. The first is that he's a sincere evangelical Christian who regards the world in the simple terms he says he does. The second is that he's a cunning politician who was born and raised among people of faith like you and has learned how to exploit your faith to advance his own career. Both of these possibilities are disasters waiting to happen.
If he's the good-hearted preacher who just happened to become governor of Arkansas by an accident of circumstance rather than calculated ambition, he's in way over his head. For example, when Huckabee claimed he was receiving foreign policy advice from John Bolton, he was either misrepresenting the facts or being absurdly naive. No matter how good he is at heart, the United States and the world at large can't afford a president who thinks he is learning foreign policy via email. And to the extent that you are willing to overlook this kind of blunder, you are telling the 70 percent of your fellow citizens who don't believe a literal interpretation of the Bible is the best credential for political leadership that your powers of judgment are nil. Huckabee the Preacher will be mocked and ridiculed and manipulated into the worst electoral disaster in the history of the Republican Party. Have you learned nothing about Democrats? They will be absolutely ruthless about making him indistinguishable in every way from Gomer Pyle.
On the other hand, Huckabee might be an absolutely ruthless politician himself, a nominally Republican version of that other successful Arkansas governor, Bill Clinton. If he is, he could actually succeed in winning the presidency. Is this your secret hope, that he is some kind of combination Machiavellian-Christian, venal enough to do the job and yet moral enough to do it right? Forget it. That's a one-in-a-billion shot. If he has the ambition and spine to be a strong president, he is far more likely to be a Huey Long than an Abraham Lincoln -- corrupt, vindictive, hypocritical, power-mad, and criminally sly rather than intelligent. And, by the way, what are the charges that continue to attach to Huck's governorship? Corrupt, vindictive, personally greedy, tax-happy and... uh, weak on crime and immigration. Because the other likely version of a Machiavellian-Christian politician is Jimmy Carter. A weak, small-minded micro-manager whose insecurities and self-righteous conceits do appalling harm in the name of good.
But a Carter-like Huckabee will be far worse for the country than even Carter was. The insatiable destruction machine that is the Democratic Party will not be there to conceal and explain away his incompetencies, but to highlight them and pin them on the ignorant, reactionary yokels who brought him to power in the first place. If you think the left hates Bush, wait till the president is a graduate of a Baptist Bible college instead of Yale and Harvard.
By the end of a mercifully one-term Huckabee presidency, you will be lucky if all the more fundamentalist flavors of Christianity haven't been outlawed as completely as the American Communist Party. And worse than that will be the laughter, which will echo in your ears, and those of your children and their children, for all that remains of American history. Worst of all, conservatism itself will be stone cold dead as a political force in this country.
My final point is that mine is not an extreme view. Every conservative who does not share your exact religious viewpoint feels the same way about this that I do. The only difference between me and the east-coast conservative pundits who opine on Fox News and other mass media outlets is that they don't believe you'd really go through with such a totally self-destructive campaign -- and I do believe it.
Know this, though. If you do, we will never forgive you. And the country will, most likely, never recover.
Bottom Line: Mike Huckabee is a joke. Whether he turns out to be a funny joke like Governor Gatling or a deadly joke like Huey Long is largely in your hands. Try not to blow it.
. We earned massive uninterest when we reluctantly endorsed
McCain for the presidency last month. But given our record of being
right about (almost)
everything, it seemed we should share this blog
entry from a genuine New
Hampshire blogger who got to meet most of the candidates. Maybe
he's as much of an idiot as Instapunk, but, well, here you go:
By all means, take a good, long, close look at his blog. I'm not sure
that those who dislike McCain can ever warm up to him. I suspect it's a
generational thing (which is not good). I don't have to like him to
respect him -- or to accept that even in person we might not like each
other -- while acknowledging that of all the people in the race, he's
the one I'd reluctantly, finally, and ultimately willingly trust to negotiate the
dangerous rapids we face. But then I grew up with a bunch of those old
intransigent WWII bastards. I'm used to rigid and choleric old men. I
know they frequently understand more than they let on. Then they tell
you the truth as they see it, which you can sometimes come to terms
sometimes not. But at least the lines are clearly drawn. I don't expect
others to feel the same way. Honestly. But I'm thinking it might be
time for an irascible old man to deal with the vicious untrained pups
of the New Age, whether they're Putin, Ahdumjihad, Assad, Ban Ki Moon,
Kim Jong Il, Pinyin, Osama bin Laden, or divers Euro-Weeny chihuahuas.
I also think I've figured out his real position on torture. If it has to be done, the President should do it himself. (He's guested on 24. How does that compute with his supposed squeamishness?) It's an old guy thing.
I know Fred is old too. But seeing him lay down the law in Die Hard 2 doesn't quite give me that same feeling. Sorry.
I'm not going to take any credit for finding this essay by
Proteus because it's being prominently featured in multiple big-time
blogs. I'm just directing Instapunk readers to it with a strong
recommendation that they read all of what is quite a lengthy piece.
Why? Well, I'm aware that even a lot of conservatives who supported the
war in Iraq have been tuning it out for various reasons. Too much bad
press has poisoned them to all news about the war. Too much
disappointment has inured them to the possibility of good news.
Antipathy to one or more of the key players -- Rumsfeld, Cheney,
Bremer, Bush -- has persuaded them that even a good outcome would be
just a lucky accident without lasting benefit. Too much irrational
hatred from the establishment left has gradually eroded away their own
articles of faith.
For those too far gone down one of these roads, nothing anyone can say will change anything. But if you've been tuning it all out just to be on the safe side of your feelings, it's worth your while to read a truly thoughtful analysis of what might be happening under the surface in Iraq -- and under the surface in the Pentagon. You won't know until you plow your way through it.
Here's just a single teaser excerpt from near the end of Part II.
Another quick teaser. What does the history of this aircraft have to do
with General Petraeus and the surge in Iraq? Plenty.
Here's your link to Part I
It's called Forty-Second Boyd and the Big Picture.