Friday, December 14, 2007

A Flash in the Pan

The ascension of Mike Huckabee's candidacy in Iowa has set off a most interesting set of dynamics among Republican pundits. Some on the religious right must be astounded that the candidate with the most consistent record on abortion and gay marriage is the one candidate that others in the party are singling out as not being conservative. It is also interesting that Mr. Huckabee is the polar opposite of the type of candidate that establishment Republicans have long suggested they would like. Those Republicans have longed for a candidate who would be fiscally conservative and socially moderate. Mr. Huckabee is the opposite on both counts. Of course, so are a lot of voters, including a fair number of independent ones and a lot of older voters who favored the New Deal but hated the '60's.

Meanwhile, Peggy Noonan, with some justification, suggests that the outcome in Iowa will determine what kind of party the Republicans have become and wonders if Ronald Reagan could today be the party's standard bearer:

I wonder if our old friend Ronald Reagan could rise in this party, this environment. Not a regular churchgoer, said he experienced God riding his horse at the ranch, divorced, relaxed about the faiths of his friends and aides, or about its absence. He was a believing Christian, but he spent his adulthood in relativist Hollywood, and had a father who belonged to what some saw, and even see, as the Catholic cult. I'm just not sure he'd be pure enough to make it in this party. I'm not sure he'd be considered good enough.

Some of the hand wringing over Mr. Huckabee's popularity arises from the fact that many pundits realize that he is one Republican who could not win in November. Messrs. Giuliani, Romney, Thompson, and McCain would all stand a fair chance against Ms. Clinton or Mr. Obama in the fall. Mr. Huckabee would be trounced.

Those Republicans need not fear. Mr. Huckabee will have his fleeting moments of fame and be a distant memory by the time of the Republican Convention next summer.

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