Douthat considers both 2012 contenders in his column today. Ross hopes that someone who shares Huckabee's and Palin's "charisma" can lead "an intellectually vigorous conservatism." Isaac Chotiner counters:
Douthat's argument is tautological. Sure, it would be nice for the GOP if Palin and Huckabee were interested in policy. But if they were interested in policy, then they would not be so appealing to the GOP base. In other words, the problem is that a large part of the right has no interest in a policy wonk, and sneers at intellectuals and elites and the types of people Douthat would like to see running the party. A candidate who was interested in learning the ins and outs of the welfare state and health care policy is unlikely to ever achieve Palin/Huckabee levels of popularity with the grassroots.
Some numbers have started to trickle out of Iowa that show Huckabee ahead.