LeftOut: I Heart Huckabee
For stirring up the Republican primaries and mussing Mitt’s hair.
I loathe Mitt Romney. His candidacy petrifies me. He’s telegenic, rich, and has the backing of the Republican establishment (corporate Republicans, not the religious right). He’s handsome, with perfect teeth and perfect hair. He has a handsome family, a beautiful wife, and legions of gorgeous children. And he has a handsome résumé that reflects his turns as a successful businessman, a savior of the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, and the Republican governor of a liberal blue state, Massachusetts. On TV and on paper, Mitt’s just plain pretty.
To me, however, Mitt Romney is the most unattractive candidate on the Republican side of the race. I can think of something nice to say about all of the other Republican candidates. John McCain has some integrity, as reflected by the hits he took earlier this year among Republican voters for his steadfast opposition to the use of torture and for his vocal support for a pathway to legal immigration. I respect Rudy Giuliani’s ultimate decision to stand by his previous statements of support for abortion rights and gay rights. I admire Ron Paul’s passionate criticism of the war in Iraq, which he has maintained since he voted against the resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq. And I appreciate Fred Thompson’s politically incorrect sense of humor, as displayed when he was asked the question of what he considers to be his most prized possession and he responded: “My trophy wife.”
But I love Mike Huckabee for taking a pound of flesh out of pretty-boy Mitt’s ass in the Iowa caucuses and softening him up a bit so John McCain could go after him in subsequent primaries. Until Huckabee took a bite out of Mitt, it looked as if Mitt’s glamour shots, his high sperm count, and his deep pockets would create a political juggernaut that no one on the Republican side could stop.
Before he bumped into the man from Hope, Arkansas (Huckabee, not Clinton), Mitt was on a tremendous roll. He had a huge organization, buckets of money he had raised, and even more money of his own to use to buy his way into the White House. Corporate America loved him because he has a business résumé, hates trial lawyers, and hates corporate taxes. He effortlessly espoused every position his pollsters told him to embrace to capture his party’s nomination. He supported the war in Iraq (but opposed his own children’s serving in Iraq). He opposed abortion (now, he was for it before he was against it). He supported a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage (even though he opposed it when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 1994). And he opposed amnesty for illegal immigrants (even when he was outed for hiring them to do his landscaping).
Mitt’s pitch for his party’s nomination and the zeal with which he was pushing his new-found positions were so persuasive that the editors of the National Review endorsed Mitt for president in December 2007, running a picture of him on the cover of the National Review that projected Mitt as butch as the Marlboro man ( sans the Marlboro; he is a Mormon, after all).
In the endorsement, the editors said about Mitt and his new positions: “Whatever the process by which he got where he is on marriage, judges, and life, we’re glad he is now on our side—and we trust him to stay there.”
And then Iowa and Mike Huckabee happened to Mitt and his new positions. Huckabee is the anti-Romney. He shoots from the hip and says what’s on his mind, rather than what he’s supposed to say. He’s actually been opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage forever, and not just because he’s supposed to be. He supports governmental benefits for children of illegal immigrants, even though he’s supposed to be against them. And his economic and foreign policy statements often sound more like the statements of John Edwards than George Bush.
Whatever Huckabee said, it appealed to the Iowa caucus-goers. After Huckabee started talking in debates and around Iowa, he took off. Mitt imploded. And Huckabee won Iowa by nearly 10 percentage points (34 percent to 25 percent).
Apparently, the Iowa caucus goers are savvier than the editors of the National Review because the Iowans were smart enough to question whether they could trust Mitt and his newfound positions “to stay there.”
Put simply, I love Huckabee for mussing Mitt’s hair and for slowing down the Mitt-for-President juggernaut long enough so that the other Republican candidates can take a few shots at it.
Lest anyone mistake this article as an endorsement for Huckabee for president, it is not. I just love Huckabee right now. And I will love him for as long as Mitt will hold on to his current positions—just for a politically-expedient moment.
Writing from the liberal side, Houston attorney Daryl Moore has a general practice and is board certified in civil appellate law.