As the Baptist preacher, turned governor, turned Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee continues to rise in the polls, it will be very interesting the imaginative ways the Republican establishment will use to derail his candidacy and still maintain its strangle hold on the evangelicals who are flocking to him. In just two short weeks we have been treated to new revelations concerning the “man who would be king”. There was the “pardoned rapists” story, the unelectable story, and now the release of private letters written by Mr. Huckabee while in Arkansas. The Republican dirty tricks department is in full-throttle mode and as his numbers continue to increase the tricks will get dirtier and the tone is going to get meaner.
As Mike Huckabee gains ground on his rivals for the Republican nomination, opponents have quietly begun highlighting the slew of ethics issues the social conservative faced during his political career in Arkansas.
A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found Huckabee trailing only Mitt Romney — and by less than the margin of error — in Iowa, where the primary season kicks off with Jan. 3 caucuses.
But opposition research files on Huckabee’s ethics stand at the ready, and their contents have begun seeping into press releases. Politico
The only way for the Republican establishment to discredit Mr. Huckabee and retain the evangelicals they will need is to attack him on two fronts. The first will be to question his ethics and try to expose him as a hypocrite (as if in the Republican Party that would be a deal breaker); using this method it would appear that the candidate self-destructed, he really wasn’t “true believer”. The second front will be to attack him as being “too liberal” on social issues, this would include immigration, taxes, and social spending. By using either of these two weapons against him the Republicans can smear the candidate, but still maintain the “moral” high ground.
What the Huckabee candidacy has exposed is the lie that has been the lynchpin of Republican politics since Nixon’s campaign, the lie is that social conservatives and fiscal conservatives share commonality of views and issues. The truth is that they don’t and the destruction of the Huckabee campaign will expose it for all to see. While the fiscal conservatives have always needed the social conservatives, it has always been a one way relationship. The fiscal conservative candidate would pay lip service to the social conservative agenda and they would be allowed to speak at the nominating convention, but then after the election the fiscal conservatives would go back to business as usual. That business of course is to turn on the public faucet for the wealthy to fill their pails at the public’s expense. This game has been played out in election after election.
What no one counted on was that a “true” social conservative would ever get the nomination; this is the fly in the ointment. It is ok for Republican candidates to pander to the social conservatives to get their votes so long as the social conservatives remain on the fringes. The problem with pandering to the lowest common denominator is that every cycle requires you to offer more, so if you are pandering to bigots, racists, and intolerant people the line keeps getting lower and lower. The rhetoric has to get nastier to satisfy the mob. Up until now, the fiscal conservatives have been able to feed the “monster” and still remain viable in a national election. Sure there have been the occasional social conservative candidates, Pat Robertson, Gary Bauer, and of course Pat Buchanan; but they have always polled low enough to not raise any alarm. Usually, the fiscal conservatives could present a candidate who could project himself as a “true believer”, but this year is different.
This year you have a pro-life Mayor who committed adultery, a Mormon Governor from a liberal state, and a secular Senator with no ties to the social conservatives; it couldn’t get worse for the fiscal conservatives. The rise of Mike Huckabee should have been predictable for the Republican strategists, but of course due to their arrogance of intelligence they believed that they could continue to roll out the “perpetrators” and continue to keep the social conservatives inline. You keep stoking these fires and someone is bound to get burnt. The Republicans, using the Karl Rove play book, have stoked the fires of the social conservatives with their phony “value” issues until now there is a flame that is threatening to consume the rest of the Party. The social conservatives are now ready to exert a larger influence over the Party than ever before, now they want one of their own, a true believer.
The previous social conservative movements have all been orchestrated by the fiscal conservatives to imitate a real movement, but it was always under the guidance of a fiscal conservative masquerading as a social conservative. Mike Huckabee represents the day of reckoning for the fiscal conservatives. He has recognized the “frailty” of the current crop of wannabes and has rushed in to fill the void. To the chagrin of the Party establishment his message is playing better than the “anointed” candidates and it scares the hell out of them. They know that on the national stage Mr. Huckabee will be vulnerable to all types of attacks and would probably lose in a landslide. The thing about the message of hate and intolerance is that it may play well to the Party base, but it doesn’t play so well to the nation as a whole.
So, as the deconstruction of Mike Huckabee plays out it will be interesting to note the role of the media in his downfall. The Republicans will use their trusty friends in the fourth estate to write the stories that they have leaked. All of this will be done of course in the interest of the public’s right to know, if only they were as forthcoming with all of their candidates.
False history gets made all day, any day,
the truth of the new is never on the news – Adrienne Rich