Skip to comments.Huckabee ... The GOP's Cynical Use of Religion Has Come Home to Roost
Posted on 12/20/2007 9:28:38 AM PST by Between the Lines
With Mike Huckabee's continuing surge, the Republican Party now has an Iowa front-runner whose religious beliefs are virtually identical to those of George Bush. He's anti-choice, born-again, against gay-marriage, and gets political advice directly from God.
So why is the Republican establishment suddenly in a state of near-apoplexy about Mike Huckabee? Shouldn't they be happy? They've been cultivating evangelicals and fundamentalists for 30 years. Now they finally have a candidate who's truly part of the movement. So what's the problem?
Actually, that is the problem. The evangelical crowd was fine when it was just a resource to be cynically exploited every few years in demagogic anti-gay get-out-the-vote campaigns. But now the holy-rolling monster the GOP's Dr. Frankensteins have created has thrown off the shackles, fled the lab, and is currently leading in Iowa. And the party doesn't know what to do.
It's actually fun to watch the consternation. Ross Douthat has dubbed this feeling "Huckenfreude," which he defines as "pleasure derived from the outrage of prominent conservative pundits over the rising poll numbers of Mike Huckabee."
And there is certainly no shortage of outrage among hyperventilating conservative columnists across the country. The National Review's Rich Lowry has coined a neologism of his own: "Huckacide." This is when a national party commits suicide by nominating an "under-vetted former governor who is manifestly unprepared to be president of the United States."
Yeah, that would certainly be crazy, wouldn't it? Makes you wonder where these people have been for the last seven years.
Over at the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer is wringing his hands about an "overdose of public piety," "scriptural literalism," and how the 2008 campaign is "knee-deep in religion."
At the Weekly Standard, Stephen Hayes worries about the fact that Huckabee "told a producer for Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network that his religious background made him most qualified to lead the war on terror," and that he "seems to believe the best foreign policy is one guided by the Golden Rule." Scoffing at the Golden Rule? What's next, attacking the Boy Scout Oath? And what it is about Huckabee's name that inspires a whole new lexicon? The Weekly Standard's headline writers couldn't resist, dubbing his perceived foreign policy shortcomings "The Perils of Huckaplomacy."
Over at the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan frets that the Republican Party of today wouldn't like Ronald Reagan much now that "faith has been heightened as a determining factor in how to vote," and says that voters in Iowa "may be deciding if Republicans are becoming a different kind of party."
Turns out that when you define your party a certain way for a two or three decades, people actually start to believe it, and that definition can, in fact, become your party.
According to Andrew Sullivan, "it is certainly too late for fellow-traveling Christianists like Lowry and Krauthammer to start whining now. This is their party. And they asked for every last bit of it."
The Republican establishment is tying itself in knots trying to land on a publicly acceptable rationale for their Huckabhorrence (I told you, it's irresistible). Some criticize his "fair tax" plan -- but since when have nutty economic plans ever disqualified a Republican presidential candidate?
No, the real reason is class. As Kevin Drum puts it, "mainstream conservatives are mostly urban sophisticates with a libertarian bent, not rural evangelicals with a social conservative bent. They're happy to talk up NASCAR and pickup trucks in public, but in real life they mostly couldn't care less about either. Ditto for opposing abortion and the odd bit of gay bashing via proxy. But when it comes to Ten Commandments monuments and end times eschatology, they shiver inside just like any mainstream liberal."
As Steve Benen writes at TPM, "The Republican Party's religious right base is supposed to be seen, not heard. Candidates are supposed to pander to this crowd, not actually come from this crowd."
They want their base to be a kind of electoral cicada: wake up every four years, vote, and then go underground and shut-up.
Will Huckabee win the nomination? No one knows. But win or lose, I can't see this genie going back in the bottle. One danger for the Huckabee haters is that right wing social positions aren't the only thing they've been nurturing for 30 years -- there's also this sense of aggrieved, martyred hatred of "the elites." Of course, it's usually completely manufactured. But this time, there really is a group looking down its nose at the evangelicals -- and it's not godless liberals. It's the supporters of Romney, McCain, Thompson and Giuliani. So what's going to happen when evangelicals realize this and tap into the hatred of "the elites" the GOP establishment has been whipping up in them for three decades?
Mark Kleiman points out that Huckabee is the only non-millionaire among the serious GOP contenders, and the only one who doesn't court what Kevin Drum calls the "money-cons" -- those Republicans for whom globalization is the only true religion.
Republicans have been running on a faux populist/religiously conservative platform ever since Richard Nixon. It was refined and heightened by Lee Atwater and again by Karl Rove. And now that they have a rising candidate who truly represents that platform, the movers and shakers of the party are doing all they can to kneecap him.
But as the Good Book says: "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
Arrianna Huffandblow...consider the source.
Jim & Tammy Baker experianced a “surge” in popularity, but eventually were revealed as complete phonies. I expect the same for this rhino.
The Republicans need to get away from discussing the differing nuances of their individual faiths. The Dems will just jump on that and turn it against them.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
I’ve got a HUCKA-BE-ATTITUDE!
I don’t think a Muslim and two liberal United Methodists want to start throwing rocks from inside their glass mansions.
Give us all a break Arianna... Daahhhhling...
Oh, excuse me....ex-Muslim, even though Islam says: “once a Muslim, always a Muslim.”
Huckabee must be doing something right - he has the right enemies.
“Oh, excuse me....ex-Muslim,”
The problem with Huckabee is he's a lightweight on the issues and did not govern as a conservative in Arkansas, which leaves him nothing but his social conservatism and faith to run on. He would almost surely lose.
“Oh, excuse me....ex-Muslim, even though Islam says: once a Muslim, always a Muslim.
And saying so always makes it so?
That’s what I’m thinking. Makes me want to be sure to get out and vote for the guy, if only he is all that she says he is.
The problem is that the GOP hasn’t followed through on its anti-Big-Government rhetoric. As a result, the Huckabee crowd has the dysfunctional belief that the guvmint can fix things for them.
I think it is that they alienate a lot of voters who don't want religion shoved down their throats, but otherwise support conservative ideals. I know a lot of people who have very conservative principles but who still vote dem because they view Republicans as Christian oppressors.
I’m as hard on Huck as anyone, but the nonsense about his Christmas ad is just that, nonsense. It was very well done.
The issues are the reason I’m apalled with Huckabee.
Their agenda is fine as long as it does not involve using government to advance their own social agenda. When they do that then they are not all that different than liberals who want to use government to solve their imagined problems.
I don’t consider a liberal pragmatist like Huckabee much of an evangelical Christian.
Christianity understands that gratuitous raising of taxes is theft. That the Death penalty is practiced and taught by God, that the release of violent criminals makes one guilty of murder. Evangelical Christianity does not compromise its position for political advantage.
Nor does it lie about theological degrees.
Though I voted for Bush the elder even after his broken pledge (and would again), I’ll never support Huck.
Are you being obtuse? No one disputes that Barack Hussein Obama’s father and step-father were both Muslim. That makes Barack a Muslim by birth under Sharia Law, or weren’t you aware of that? He may now attend a Christian Church and profess to be a Christian, but under Islamic law he is either an apostate or still a Muslim. Which is it? I don’t know.
BS. The reason we have an issue with him is becuase he’s not a Conservative. If he had a track record of cutting taxes, not supporting illegal immigration, and being tough on crime...I would be extremely supportive of the Huckster.
This evangelical agrees with you 100%. Of course, none of the frontrunners have much to say for their conservative credentials in governance. The only two conservatives in this race are gonzo.
Look at all the 2007 sign-ups defending B. Hussein. Imagine that.
Huckabee has made religion, his and other candidates, an issue. That alone should disqualify him.
Exactly. I object to Huckster not because of his (supposed) piety, but because he is a fake. Huck fronts for the same organized criminal interests as Klinton.
Really? Those of us who prefer limited government don’t want him either.
I like Thompson, but he seems to be sleepwalking through the campaign. Romney today is a good fit with my views, but are his conversions sincere? I don't think any of the second rankers are electable. What to do . . . .
eggzactly (had to write that word, seen it around, cute, first time writing it for me, it was good too...)
Those of us who were ‘broken glass’’ voters in a few recent elections only to find we’d been defrauded, lied to, slandered, and our nation diminished, will never ever make that mistake again.
Those of us who voted Republican only to be greeted with open borders, NoChildLeftBehind (and no Child Gets Ahead either), Johnny Sutton, McCain-Feingold, Mike Chertoff, and all the rest, are not likely to make the same mistake again.
Vote against Huckabee or whomever as your conscience allows.
Don't misunderstand me. Huck is absolutely the wrong guy for America. But Huffington's crazy hate almost makes me a believer.
And so, the Huffter shows what the Huckster truly represents: a tool for splitting the Party...
FRED THOMPSON is the best person to lead this country. He is a true conservative and has been his entire life. All one has to do is check his record to see this.
During my time in the Army as am Intelligence Analyst, I served under both Presidents Carter and Reagan (as my commanders in chief). Without argument, President Reagan was the best commander-in-chief a military person could ever have served under. Fred Thompson possesses the same qualities and vision as President Reagan in that he is strong on national defense and sees a dire need to secure our borders and control immigration.
I can think of no better person to lead this country and fix the problems we have. He is the only candidate from either party who has specific and detailed plans on border security and immigration reform; revitalization of America’s armed forces; saving and protecting Social Security; and tax relief and economic growth. These are detailed on his Web site at www.fred08.com. I challenge you to find any other candidate who has laid out specific plans to fix anything.
Fred Thompson has published his first principles, some of which are mentioned above. In addition to those, he strongly believes in individual liberty, personal responsibility, limited government, federalism, traditional American values, the rule of law and is a strong proponent of the Second Amendment — all concepts established during the birth of our country and documented in our Constitution.
Again, try to find any candidate who has laid out their plans to “fix” this country. You will find they all speak in vague and abstract terms on their plans.
For those who have heard Fred Thompson speak, you will usually hear him say that the Fred Thompson you see today is the same Fred Thompson you saw yesterday and is the same Fred Thompson you will see tomorrow. He stands by his principles and values and doesn’t shift his positions based on polls or public opinion; in other words, he doesn’t say what the voters want to hear just to get elected, but remains steadfast on his views and convictions.
During his time in the Senate he focused on three areas: to lower taxes, strengthen national security and expose waste in the federal government. Fred Thompson has foreign policy experience, having served as member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Senate Intelligence committees.
As chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, he opened the investigation in 1997 on the Chinese government’s attempt to influence American policies and elections, and this investigation identified connections with the Clinton administration (documented in the committee’s report).
As a member of the Finance Committee, he worked tirelessly to enact three major tax-cut bills. Fred Thompson remains steadfast and even though a person may not agree with all his views and he understands some may disagree with him, you can count on him to be consistent and unwavering.
Don’t be fooled by his laid back approach and what critics call his “laziness.” As a former assistant U.S. attorney, he earned a reputation as a tough prosecutor and he possesses the toughness this country needs in order to tackle today’s and tomorrow’s issues.
I ask that you take a hard look at what this country needs, then take a hard look at all the other candidates’ views, policies, their records and their track record on consistency. Fred Thompson possesses integrity, loyalty, commitment, energy and decisiveness, all traits of an effective leader, and will emerge as the best person to take this country boldly forward.
No way can he claim victim-hood by the “Republican establishment”, that boogyman is an illusion used to garner votes, just like his dissing of another candidates' religion garnered votes.
Let’s see it’s not OK for Huck to appeal to Christian voters in Iowa then is it not OK for Rudy to appeal to Jewish voters in Florida. Why is everyone surprised that politicians search for votes?
I’m sorry but wasn’t Arrianas religion following around some kind who wore a white robe all the time? Didn’t it end up helping her ‘husband’ lose a shot at the US Senate?
Curious of her to criticism religious displays of others, huh?
Brilliant post. Fred Thompson is the man. He has integrity, honesty and clarity of purpose. God forbid Huckabee or one of the other RINO’s should get the nomination.
That's just about what I was going to say. I would only add that people like Huffington don't know the difference between Pat Robertson and Elmer Gantry, the real thing and the fakes. And I have concluded, despite some testimony by Freepers to the contrary, that Huckabee is a fake.
But to be fair to Huffington, your average Country Club Republican wouldn't know the difference between someone with real religion and someone who was faking it any more than she does. In their eyes, it's all scary and bogus. Not even Mother Teresa can get through to someone like Andrew Sullivan.
If people could just get past the fact that the article talks about Huckabee, maybe they could see the issues evangelicals are having to deal with in this election from their own party.
Back earlier this year, Republicans had declared the death of the value voters. Over the summer we saw numerous articles where they rejoiced at the prospect that the "religious right" would no longer be calling the shots.
When Rudy became the "obvious" choice evangelicals were ridiculed for not supporting him because of abortion. Later they were chided for not wishing to support Romney because he is Mormon. It seemed as if everyone knew how evangelicals should vote except for evangelicals.
Here it is December and Huckabee is doing well in the polls. And we see article after article attacking Huck and attacking social conservatives. It has gotten rather nasty in the press and even nastier here at FreeRepublic.
It is obvious that Republicans want the evangelical vote, but only if they vote for the "right" Republican. Evangelicals have become the niggers of the Republican party and Republicans wants to keep it that way.
When did the Republican party become so anti-Christian?
FYI. I am both a social and fiscal conservative and I support Fred. My issue is not about Huckabee but how social conservatives are being treated by their own party.
“With Mike Huckabee’s continuing surge, the Republican Party now has an Iowa front-runner whose religious beliefs are virtually identical to those of George Bush.”
The first sentence alone discredits the entire article, and demonstrates clear ignorance about Christian denominations.
Bush is a Methodist, and Huckabee is a Southern Baptist. Nearly polar opposites within the spectrum of Christian beliefs.
If a leftist like Arianna can see this, why can't we?
Of the remaining viable candidates, I agree he is the best. But I suspect he will be disappoint conservatives if he becomes president.
And, I use the word "viable" advisedly. Thompson is clinging to the edge of the cliff with one hand. I don't expect him to make it past New Hampshire.
As to the other three, at least Romney is willing to pretend he is conservative and he does not appear to be crazy. McCain, Giuliani and Huckabee are all completely off the reservation. If we are going to crash the ship of state, we might as well let a rat do it.
I am a Southern Baptist who supported Bush, but would never vote for Huck. Go figure.
I must say that as one of those who have promoted social-conservatives to be more assertive and active... This is quite a spectacle I am enjoying tremendously. Having Hunter, a man of quality, practically ignored by the "intelligentsia" of the Republican party! LOL...I must say they must be quite concerned with this uprising.
Bottom line. Finally, Finally... someone who is not supposed to 'surge,' is doing it and yes, they don't know what the F*&% to do!... LOL!