The Huckabee Surge

It's real. For now. The good news for Huckaboosters is that he's managed to slip partway into the space left by Fred Thompson's failure to transition from a (brilliant) pre-campaign to an actual, you know, campaign. The bad news is that Thompson is about to officially lumber into the race, and while he may have nothing to offer except "a series of conservative cliches interspersed with long pauses," he's got more money and more glitz - for now, at least - than the Huckster, and it's quite possible he'll be able to suck up all the non-Romney, non-Giuliani oxygen long enough to deal Huckabee a fatal blow. The other bad news, meanwhile, is that while Huckabee has a keen instinct for what's missing from the current GOP field of front-runners - i.e. someone who's orthodox on social issues but unorthodox on economics - many of his specific ideas (from the Fair Tax to a national smoking ban) tend toward the semi-baked. But then again tone matters a lot more than substance in the primary season, and there's plenty of time - particularly if he's looking to set himself up for another run in '12 or '16 - for Huckabee to put a little more policy flesh on his bones. (Insert your own weight-loss joke here.)

The most important thing, to my mind, is that a Huckabee-Giuliani-Romney race would be a lot healthier for the GOP than a Thompson-Giuliani-Romney race, which is reason enough to wish the Huckster well.

(For more on Huckabee, see Reihan and Soren Dayton.)