As I was strolling through the blogosphere (think Yellow Pages: “let your fingers do the walking”), I came up this blog post by Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning Newson Mike Hucakbee. The meat of the post is here:
It’s funny, but when it looked like Rudy Giuliani, a social liberal, was going to be the nominee, we didn’t see many, if any, establishment Republican opinion leaders freaking out over what kind of danger to the future of the party and the nation he represented, even though as Ross points out, Giuliani hasn’t exactly been deep on policy (I had to research Giuliani for our Dallas Morning News editorial board debate on which candidate to endorse, and I was genuinely startled by how vague he was on many things). I think it’s fair to say that it was assumed that Giuliani would be a sound representative of the Republican Party, and that the social and religious conservatives would do like they always do and get in line. Pat Robertson sure did.
But lo, it turns out that the candidate who’s caught fire comes straight out of the religious/social conservative wing of the coalition, and he is unsound on issues most important to the fiscal wing. It’s not supposed to work that way. Nobody at the elite level seems to expect the economic conservatives to suck it up for the sake of party unity. What does that say about the place of social conservatives in the party all these years?
I don’t want to overdo this. I think it’s perfectly fine to be worried about Huckabee’s vagueness, and his unpreparedness. I’m worried about these things too, which is a big reason why I can’t say I’d vote for him (though honestly, any Republican who finds himself worked up over Huckabee’s lack of knowledge about foreign affairs, say, should ask himself if he felt the same way about Gov. Bush in 1999 and 2000, and if not, why not). Still, it’s hard to shake the belief that the real problem with Mike Huckabee, as far as the establishment is concerned, is that he’s not clubbable.
Now, if yours truly is part of the Republican “elite,” we’re all in deep trouble, but I’m fairly sure Rod didn’t have me in mind when her wrote this. That said, it’s pretty clear that Rod doesn’t really understand why so many of us are determined to prevent Huckabee from winning the nomination.
I’ll start with the Giuliani reference. It’s becoming conventional wisdom that Giuliani and Huckabee are the perfect foils for the two wings of the party. Of course, no one who blogs in this space backs Giuliani, so the theory already has holes. More importantly, Giuliani and Huckabee have campaigned in vastly different ways.
Candidate Giuliani has asked social conservatives to vote for him. He has not asked them to abandon their principles; he has not insulted them; and contrary to popular belief, he has not demanded they “suck it up” and support him against Hillary (don’t confuse Rudy with John Podhoretz, who has certainly done the latter). What Giuliani has done is try to win them over to him, and explain how he will advance their agenda. Most importantly, he has always made it clear that he knows the Republican Party is the party for social conservatives -he just happens to disagree with them on a number of issues – and he has not made any efforts to reshape the party in his image.
There’s a sense in which all these years the evangelicals have been treated very kindly by the Republican Party. They wanted us to be a part of it. And then one day one of us actually runs, and they say, Oh, my gosh. Now they’re serious. They don’t want to just show up and vote. They actually would want to be a part of the discussion, and really talk about issues that include hunger and poverty and things that ought to be really a concern to every American, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative.
To genuine limited-government conservatives everywhere, this is the most basic, most ignorant, and oldest lefty shot that is fired at us. Every populist Democrat plays the “hunger and poverty” card, as if supporters of limited government are evil, heartless brutes. It spurs something very deep within us, something we – contrary to what Rod and Huck believe – have had had to endure for decades.
Giuliani made it clear that even if he were the nominee, social conservatives could call the GOP home. Mike Huckabee has made clear that he intends to run us out of the Republican Party on a rail; that is why we are so adamant to deny him the nomination.
I’m guessing Rod simply doesn’t understand this; he’s not a limited-government type himself, and he’d be perfectly comfortable in a big-government Republican Party, but I wouldn’t, and I assume my fellow bloggers here would be just as uncomfortable as I am. In fact, I think Huckabee wants it that way.
This isn’t about evangelicals or social conservatives. I would have no problem with evangelicals or social conservatives who are also economic conservatives. In fact, I voted for one (Dick Black for Congress, after James Bowden was eliminated in the 1st District convention). My problem with Huckabee is that, if he were the nominee, the Republican Party would no longer be the party of limited government.