The Lessons of 2006?
Fred Siegel on Mike Huckabee:
Who could be more authentically representative of Rove-era Republicanism than Mike Huckabee, a pioneer-stock evangelical Baptist who wants to reclaim Americans for Christ? In Huckabee’s words: “I didn’t get into politics because I thought government had a better answer. I got into politics because I knew government didn’t have the real answers, that the real answers lie in accepting Jesus Christ into our lives.”
This clearly has a considerable appeal in the Iowa caucuses, where upwards of 40 percent of the participants are themselves Evangelicals. As of now Huckabee, whose affability and quick wit make him an appealing figure, has a two-to-one lead over his nearest rival, Mitt Romney. (Huckabee took a jab at Romney’s inauthenticity on cultural issues when he insisted that social conservatives need a candidate who speaks “the language of Zion as a mother tongue.”) But as the 2006 elections made clear, this is not the kind of platform likely to be able to create the broad coalition necessary to win a presidential majority.
This last bit of analysis is a particularly egregious illustration of Dougherty's Law - which holds that every right-wing pundit must, irrespective of the evidence, assert that “if it were more like me, the Republican Party would be better off. It’s failing because it’s like you." I quite agree with Siegel that Mike Huckabee would struggle, as the GOP nominee, to “create the broad coalition necessary to win a presidential majority.” I am however, mystified as to how this is taken to be the main lesson of the 2006 elections, in which most of the exit polls indicated that voters were chiefly concerned about the war in Iraq, followed by the economy, followed (at a distance) by inside-the-Beltway corruption. If I were to risk a Dougherty’s Law violation myself, I would submit that if one rewrote Siegel’s post with his own favored candidate in mind – to wit, “who could be more authentically representative of Rove-era Republicanism than Rudy Giuliani, an uber-hawk with an abiding penchant for cronyism” – his concluding line about the lessons of ’06 would have at least a slightly greater ring of truth to it. But at the very least he ought to offer some defense of the by-no-means self-evident proposition that the last election was a repudiation, first and foremost, of what Mike Huckabee represents about contemporary conservatism.