Mike Huckabee must hear footsteps.
The once-rotund, then-thin, and now-getting-chubby-again former governor and would-be Great Evangelical Hope presidential candidate seems to be lashing out like someone who’s really worried.
You ask, What does Huck have to be worried about?
Well, for one thing, about being marginalized as a guy who will never get near the Republican presidential nomination again.
Consider: GOP Minority Whip Eric Cantor and a group of Republican leaders started a “listening tour” through The National Council for a New America, which Cantor describes as
a forward-looking, grassroots caucus intended to bring together Congressional leaders with a national panel of experts.
“The National Council for a New America will engage with and empower the American people to develop innovative solutions that meet the serious challenges confronting our country. It is the right time to begin a thoughtful conversation about the future of this country.”
Mike Huckabee was apparently not invited to join the group, at least not at the beginning. He was – shall we say? – angry:
It’s hard to keep from laughing out loud when people living in the bubble of the Beltway suddenly wake up one day and think they ought to have a listening tour; even funnier when their first earful expedition takes them all the way to the suburbs of Washington, D.C.
“The bubble of the Beltway.” Hard-hitting words from the silver-tongued Huck!
Actually Huck’s taking a ludicrous wild swing. Apart from Cantor, the leading listening tour speakers include Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Govs. Bobby Jindal (R-La.), Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) and Haley Barbour (R-Miss.) and former Govs. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) and Jeb Bush (R-Fla.). The only one in that group who lives and works in Washington, D.C. is John McCain, to whom the Huckster gave his slobbering support in last fall’s presidential race. Golly, one might have thought that Huckabee hoped McCain would choose him as a running mate.
Could it be that Huckabee fell out of love with McCain when the Senator chose Sarah Palin? Palin, after all, is now the darling of the fickle religious social conservative voter bloc that Huck thought he owned.
That’s got to sting.
John adds some thoughts
The Huckster’s loves are obvious – they begin with himself and end with…himself.
What is amazing to me is that presidential politics 2012 is actually taking some shape. Fred Malek has declared Romney the frontrunner. This is risky. If Obama’s popularity holds by ’12 any Republican candidate is going to be cannon fodder and if I am serious player, which Romney is, I’m not wasting a shot. However, it does seem like Obama’s policies cannot help but bring him to ruin quickly- only time will tell.
But that said, Huck did have a bit of a point. (THAT hurt to write!) Unquestionably, economic and security concerns are front and center right now and ought to be. They are the lead issues. Social conservative concerns are in a supporting role at the moment – actual conditions, not just politics, demand it. But the party needs social conservatives. It does not need the extremist religious-based identity politics of the last cycle, but it needs, desperately, the vast majority of religiously motivated social conservatives.
The GOP is losing ground amongst every demographic out there but regular churchgoers. Like it or not, I think that defines “the base.” The party needs to be visibly and actively in the fight on abortion, stem cells, same sex marriage and whatever else the left decides to throw at us. This is a fine, fine needle to thread indeed. Mitt Romney seems to be threading it well.
Ross Douthat, on the other hand, in his freshly minted columnist for the NYTimes role, has written on the lastest anti-Catholic rant called “Angels & Demons.”
These are Dan Brown’s kind of readers. Piggybacking on the fascination with lost gospels and alternative Christianities, he serves up a Jesus who’s a thoroughly modern sort of messiah — sexy, worldly, and Goddess-worshiping, with a wife and kids, a house in the Galilean suburbs, and no delusions about his own divinity.
But the success of this message — which also shows up in the work of Brown’s many thriller-writing imitators — can’t be separated from its dishonesty. The “secret” history of Christendom that unspools in “The Da Vinci Code” is false from start to finish. The lost gospels are real enough, but they neither confirm the portrait of Christ that Brown is peddling — they’re far, far weirder than that — nor provide a persuasive alternative to the New Testament account. The Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — jealous, demanding, apocalyptic — may not be congenial to contemporary sensibilities, but he’s the only historically-plausible Jesus there is.
Hmmm…? Would this include Mormonism? If Douthat thinks it would, then he is missing the eye of the needle, and we simply cannot afford that right now. Public action based on religious motive will involve a variety of theological backgrounds – many of which will view the other as “weird.” So what? It is the action that matters. In a nation that relies on personal morality, but does not establish a religion, such must be the case. Save the theology/philosophy/canon and other purely religious arguments for the religious battlefield – they are not for politics.
Failing to make that distinction is why Mike Huckabee, unlike Sarah Palin, finds himself on the outside looking in as the GOP tries to figure out its next moves. One thing is for certain though. Whatever those moves are, they better include a significant outreach to the religiously motivated social conservative.