INDIANOLA, IOWA -- A string of foreign policy gaffes has made it clear to the national political press corps that Mike Huckabee is manifestly unqualified to be president. Those questions dogged Huckabee at a press conference in Iowa today, and Mitt Romney's campaign is taking steps to ensure that his gaffes are indelible.
But what if none of this matters?
To some observers, the issue landscape in 2008 reminds them of 1992; voters seem to be inwardly-focused; Democrats, in particular, seem to want change; Republicans seem to be equally as frustrated that the government doesn't work for them. It's a weird disjuncture because the paramount conflicts of the day are outer-focused; Pakistan, Iraq, global climate change, worldwide economic instability. But none of those issues -- on either side -- has ticked the needle in any direction. Republicans are moved by immigration; Democrats, by health care; Democrats seem to want competence; Republicans seem to want authenticity.
And the reasons why Iowa Republicans fell in love with Mike Huckabee don't seem to have anything to do with nuclear proliferation or with any prospective evaluation of his fitness as a leader. They really like him; his personal attributes are megavolts more powerful than any of his rivals; his unvarnished evangelical worldview is enough.
Owen Walker, a farmer from Indianola, became a convert today. "He's got.. he's got heart. He's a good man," he said. A fundamentally decent guy. "A down to earth person who we're going to be able to trust."
His friend, Jim Meadows, told me: "When I really came to realize that he'd be a good candidate is when he demonstrated during the debates that he showed a lot of wisdom in the way he answered the question. The man is a genuine next-door neighbor type."
And all the criticism? It makes these men more convinced that Huckabee is their guy.
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