I'm not a fiscal liberal, or a supporter of the death penalty, or someone who believes that a candidacy for the presidency of the United States should be based on someone's religious faith. So Huckabee is not for me. But he is easily the most appealing candidate for the current big-spending, evangelical, Southern Republican party. I don't find his religious schtick in any way appealing. It's glib in one area where glibness really is inappropriate. To say something like
"Jesus was far too smart to seek public office"
may have a superficial appeal, but it is also a cheapening of Jesus' radical injunction to forswear worldly power and wealth. To use such a cheap line to score a laugh in a political debate is not something I find particularly admirable.
But among the crowd on stage, Huckabee seemed by far the most congenial candidate. Paul is much clearer; McCain soared tonight, in my view. I think McCain's experience, independent streak, fiscal responsibility, moral core, and national security mastery make him easily the best viable candidate on stage. Yes, I am immensely proud of Ron Paul. And after Iraq, I find his non-interventionism far more credible than McCain's full neocon jacket. But experience does count; and McCain is in a class of his own in wartime.
Nonetheless, it's clear that today's Dixie-based, pro-torture, anti-immigrant GOP will find it very hard to accept the bipartisan, anti-torture supporter of comprehensive immigration reform as its candidate. Romney really is a tool. Giuliani is just too urban for the party Rove has built. So you can see why Huckabee is rising. I bet he's on a roll now. As "Richelieu" puts it, he does have the most important qualification of anyone on stage:
A degree in Bible Studies from Ouachita Baptist University of Arkadelphia, Arkansas.
Think of tonight as Rove's Frankenstein moment.
(Photo: Stephanie Kuykendal/Getty.)