Monday, January 7, 2008


Now Columnizing at the New York Bloody Times -- and what a refreshing change he is!

Let's deconstruct, shall we?

Our title is:
President Mike Huckabee?

Pretty fancy, eh? Of course we realize there must be a joke in there somewhere, as no one of the Neo-conman persuasion is about to say anything supportive about their least favorite Populist candidate, Pastor-Governor Mike Huckabee, a scary and dangerous man in their eyes.

But let's go on:

Thank you, Senator Obama. You’ve defeated Senator Clinton in Iowa. It looks as if you’re about to beat her in New Hampshire. There will be no Clinton Restoration. A nation turns its grateful eyes to you.

Ah yes. The ritual Republican Establishment's hat tip to their favorite Democrat(sic) candidate, Barack Hussein Obama, Colored Man, for trouncing their other favorite Democrat(sic) candidate, SheDevil, HILLARY!!!! Who Kristol rightly recognizes would represent a Restoration in the White House, rather than preserving the status quo (as if the Bush interlude were empty somehow?)

Mmkay. What else? Let's look to this part:

But gratitude for sparing us a third Clinton term only goes so far. Who, inquiring minds want to know, is going to spare us a first Obama term? After all, for all his ability and charm, Barack Obama is still a liberal Democrat. Some of us would much prefer a non-liberal and non-Democratic administration. We don’t want to increase the scope of the nanny state, we don’t want to undo the good done by the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, and we really don’t want to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory in Iraq.

Ah yes, here we go. The ritual denunciations of Democrat(sic) policies and personnel. Have to get in those Talking Points -- ie: "liberal Democrat," "nanny state," "undo the good," "snatch defeat from the Jaws of Victory." (Oh, that's a good one, Billy-Baby. Warms me to my cockles, it does.) But there's that bit about Roberts and Alito that doesn't seem to fit. No Dem can do anything about them, too late, yanno? Shoulda done something before, but didn't. How can a Dem president "undo" their "good?" Our Friend doesn't say. Nor can one really surmise. Hmmm. Well, we'll let that stew for a bit.

Let's go on:

For me, therefore, the most interesting moment in Saturday night’s Republican debate at St. Anselm College was when the candidates were asked what arguments they would make if they found themselves running against Obama in the general election.

The best answer came, not surprisingly, from the best Republican campaigner so far — Mike Huckabee. He began by calmly mentioning his and Obama’s contrasting views on issues from guns to life to same-sex marriage. This served to remind Republicans that these contrasts have been central to G.O.P. success over the last quarter-century, and to suggest that Huckabee could credibly and comfortably make the socially conservative case in an electorally advantageous way.

Yes, it's always appealing when Kristol personalizes things thisaway. "For Me..." he says, while your mileage may vary. How very kind of him. What are the Republican arguments against Obama?

Well, of course! Huckabee has it mastered: you start by going after him with the traditional wingnut crap, Guns, God, Gays, and Abortion. That's at he root of Republican Success for 25 years and you don't throw it away, no sir. One presensts ones Social Conservative cred first and foremost when attacking a Dem candidate. It's Campaigning 101. Yes? And? Is there something more?

Why yes. Yes, there is:

Huckabee went on to pay tribute to Obama for his ability “to touch at the core of something Americans want” in seeming to move beyond partisanship. And, he added, Senator Obama is “a likable person who has excited people about wanting to vote who have not voted in the past.” Huckabee was of course aware that in praising Obama he was recommending himself.

You compliment the Dar... er... Dem, to show how well-bred you yourself are, to put the lie to the notion that you're just a hick from the sticks and don't know how to behave in polite company. (This is very Bushian, don't you think? There's hardly been a President more adored by the Neo-conmen, has there?) It's a Southern Strategy all its own -- lavish with praise while adjusting the knife in the back. No one does it better. Anything more?

Sure. Mention the setting:

I was watching the debate at the home of a savvy, moderately conservative New Hampshire Republican. It was at this moment that he turned to me and said: “You know, I’ve been a huge skeptic about Huckabee. I’m still not voting for him Tuesday. But I’ve got to say — I like him. And I wonder — could he be our strongest nominee?”

That Local Color adds so much, and it allows Kristol to introduce the notion that Average Republicans are giving Huckabee a Second Look. ("But I'm still not voting for him, ew.") As if the Snake Handling Wing of the Republican Party did not represent the Average? Oh, come on.


He could be. After the last two elections, featuring the well-born George Bush and Al Gore and John Kerry, Americans — even Republicans! — are ready for a likable regular guy. Huckabee seems to be that. He came up from modest origins. He served as governor of Arkansas for more than a decade. He fought a successful battle against being overweight. These may not be utterly compelling qualifications for the presidency. I’m certainly not ready to sign up.

Kristol owes me (and many more) a new wireless keyboard now. After all these Aristocrats in office or running for office, We're Ready For A Regular Guy??? Give me a break! Jeeze, just what was that bull roar you've been selling us all these years about how regular George FUCKING Bush is? How much we wanna have a Beer with him, remember? It was just Sales Talk?

OK. Now ya got me fired up.


Still, as the conservative writer Michelle Malkin put it, “For the work-hard-to-get-ahead strivers who represent the heart and soul of the G.O.P., there are obvious, powerful points of identification.” And they speak to younger voters who are not yet committed to the G.O.P. In Iowa, Huckabee did something like what Obama did on the Democratic side, albeit on a smaller scale. He drew new voters to the caucuses. And he defeated Mitt Romney by almost two to one, and John McCain by better than four to one, among voters under 45.

He can Do An Obama, capturing the Young and New Voters, very important if Republicans cared about expanding the participation in elections, which they do not, but leave that aside for the moment. He mentions Malkin. Yeee. I'm sure that appeals to the snake handler in all of us. He mentions Mitt and his defeat in Iowa. He mentions St. John and his defeat in Iowa. Obviously we're talking Giant Killer here (watch out Obama, Huck gonna gitcha! Boo!)


Now it’s true that many conservatives have serious doubts about Huckabee’s positions, especially on foreign policy, and his record, particularly on taxes. The conservative establishment is strikingly hostile to Huckabee — for both good and bad reasons. But voters seem to be enjoying making up their own minds this year. And Huckabee is a talented politician.

His campaigning in New Hampshire has been impressive. At a Friday night event at New England College in Henniker, he played bass with a local rock band, Mama Kicks. One secular New Hampshire Republican’s reaction: “Gee, he’s not some kind of crazy Christian. He’s an ordinary American.”

Ah. Now we see. The Conservative Establishment has Issues with the man, Important, Serious Issues. And he'd better Listen Up, or else. But for now let him be the Rock Star Wannabe. Everybody can relate. (Another dig at Obama's Rock Star Status, yes?)


In general, here in New Hampshire he’s emphasized social issues far less than in Iowa (though he doesn’t waffle when asked about them). Instead he’s stressed conservative economic themes, seamlessly (if somewhat inconsistently) weaving together a pitch for limited government with a message that government needs to do more to address the concerns of the struggling middle class. This latter point seems to be resonating, as headlines in local papers announce an increase in the national unemployment rate amid speculation about a coming recession.

"Seems to be resonating..." Cough. [Edwards] Cough. Recession. Heh. Heh. Sheepish Grin. Maybe we're gonna need the Preacher Man. OOOOOu. Maybe. Just to get us through the coming Shit Storm....

But then, he just lets it all flounder:

Some Democrats are licking their chops at the prospect of a Huckabee nomination. They shouldn’t be. For one thing, Michael Bloomberg would be tempted to run in the event of an Obama-Huckabee race — and he would most likely take votes primarily from Obama. But whatever Bloomberg does, the fact is that the Republican establishment spent 2007 underestimating Mike Huckabee. If Huckabee does win the nomination, it would be amusing if Democrats made the same mistake in 2008.

So. It's really about Democrats and the Bloomberg boomlet. Er... eh? How so, Billy? Oh, I see. Strategery!! Of course. If it is a Huckabee/Obama contest in the end (which it probably won't be, but that's another issue), Kristol has a plan. Daffy Duck-ish, to be sure, but a Plan nonetheless. Run Bloomberg to siphon votes away from Obama and Huck wins! YAY! But what does that do for Kristol? Hmmm.

Has his self-awareness kicked in enough for him to realize that no matter which way the coming election goes, his days are numbered? He's only got one day a week at the Times. Nobody watches FOX any more. The Weekly Standard never had any readership to speak of.

Talk about Doom.

Have a nice day, Billy.


  1. MY God that was well done. Good job. I'd amend one thing, however. I read this:

    Some Democrats are licking their chops at the prospect of a Huckabee nomination. They shouldn’t be. For one thing, Michael Bloomberg would be tempted to run in the event of an Obama-Huckabee race...

    as a form of reassurance to the corporate elite. If the voters are dumb enough to field Huckabee, Bloomberg will come charging in on a white horse to save them all.

    IMHO, Kristol has anointed Obama, nothing to fear from Edwards (the other populist) if Obama gets the nomination, and has determined that if the Republicans temporarily go insane, Bloomberg is just waiting in the wings. I'm not sure the corporate elite fear Obama at all. And, if they don't, then it's win-win for them.

  2. Seems pretty close to the mark to me.

    The idea that Kristol is offering a backhanded endorsement of Obama is one I've toyed with. After all, these Neo-Conmen are looking at the unemployment line unless they figure out some way to get in with the powerful again. So, why not flatter Obama, what's the harm?

    If we do have a Huckabee/Obama contest in November, Bloomberg would take votes from Huckabee, I think. No matter how charming the Pastor is (and I've heard plenty of reports that he is right up there with Clinton (Bill)), Rs are not going to put up with him in the White House. If there was any chance he'd win, they'd do most anything to prevent it.

    They might put up with Obama though. In fact, I've been hearing a surprising amount of yearning in wingnutland for someone Like Obama. Or, if not that, why not Obama himself? And of course everyone has heard that a lot of Obama's Iowa caucus support was from cross-over Republicans. I'd take that as a Dirty Trick, but apparently in Iowa they believe it was for real. They really do seem to want someone who can heal the wounds of the last many years, and Obama just might be the one.

  3. The central issue with Obama is what does this unity in bipartisanship mean. Paul Rosenberg did and interesting post on progressives vs populists at Open Left. Paul is really at his best responding to reader's comments. He fleshes out the same issue I have, and have seen repeated in various venues (LWM's reference to Moon of Alabama for one). Is Obama playing the trickster (Paul's term).

    Obama is certainly IMHO playing a concealed hand. To echo Paul, I DO NOT hear anything substantive come from Obama; either in an abstract or concrete way. So what does that tell us? Damned if I know. Hillay is boring her crowds senseless with policy wonk, but I *know* where she stands. Edwards is also more specific than Obama.

    Paul argues that Obam's approach seems to be clearly instrumentalist. That gives the corporate elite plenty of time and room to maneuver. The way Brooks, Sullivan, O'Hanlon (?) seem to support Obama makes me queasy. But, I interpret that queasiness as the corporations know Obama better than I do. David Sirota's piece in The Nation reinforces my sense that Obama would be much kinder to the corporate elites than either Hillary or John.

    I could care less where Kristol ends up, and I'm not sure he isn't at the NYT for life. So, I don't think it's "personal" for him. I think I just think I hear a faint dog-whistle to his presumed tribal affiliates to, "Relax. All is well."