Friday, January 4, 2008

Exerpt: Peggy Noonan on Huckabee's Iowa win

Finally, somebody speaks intelligently about Huckabee's startling and I would add disturbing win yesterday. As Rod Dreher (a clueless Huck fan) of the Dallas Morning News put it: "When I read [Noonan's] column, I immediately reflected on the fact that the Dallas Morning News editorial board endorsed Mike Huckabee in the Republican contest. Believe me, you don't get the DMN's endorsement by being a candidate who can only speak to religious and social conservatives. The paper's editorial line on abortion, gay rights and other key questions to theocons is liberal. There are 11 editorial board members, and I'm the only theocon on the panel (though a new guy we brought on might qualify as one). I've said in this space before how startled I was earlier in 2007 when I talked to board members who'd come out of a meeting with Huck really, really impressed. I hadn't been able to attend that meeting, but I fully expected them to emerge chuckling about the hubris of a Baptist minister who thought he might actually have a shot at the presidency. Didn't happen. What they heard was a bright, articulate former governor who struck them as decent, engaged and disarmingly appealing."
Uhhhhhh. Great. A liberal newspaper board loves Huck and.... Obama. That says something about Huckabee, and it's not good.
Now Noonan:

"What we have learned about Mr. Huckabee the past few months is that he's an ace entertainer with a warm, witty and compelling persona. He won with no money and little formal organization, with an evangelical network, with a folksy manner, and with the best guileless pose in modern politics. From the mail I have received the past month after criticizing him in this space, I would say his great power, the thing really pushing his supporters, is that they believe that what ails America and threatens its continued existence is not economic collapse or jihad, it is our culture.

"They have been bruised and offended by the rigid, almost militant secularism and multiculturalism of the public schools; they reject those schools' squalor, in all senses of the word. They believe in God and family and America. They are populist: They don't admire billionaire CEOs, they admire husbands with two jobs who hold the family together for the sake of the kids; they don't need to see the triumph of supply-side thinking, they want to see that suffering woman down the street get the help she needs.

"They believe that Mr. Huckabee, the minister who speaks their language, shares, down to the bone, their anxieties, concerns and beliefs. They fear that the other Republican candidates are caught up in a million smaller issues--taxing, spending, the global economy, Sunnis and Shia--and missing the central issue: again, our culture. They are populists who vote Republican, and as I have read their letters, I have felt nothing but respect.

"But there are two problems. One is that while the presidency, as an office, can actually make real changes in the areas of economic and foreign policy, the federal government has a limited ability to change the culture of America. That is something conservatives used to know. Second, I'm sorry to say it is my sense that Mr. Huckabee is not so much leading a movement as riding a wave. One senses he brilliantly discerned and pursued an underserved part of the voting demographic, and went for it."


I think Noonan's right, although much of the media is wanting to crown Huck right now; probably because he has no chance of being elected over Clinton or Obama. Susan Estrich, a self-proclaimed liberal commentator for Fox news said on Wednesday: "Huckabee could win tomorrow here in Iowa. Huckabee is a Democrat's dream. He's the kind of candidate who can do very well in the Iowa caucus because he taps into something. But when the republicans nominate Huckabee? Honey, I'm dancing at the inaugural ball."

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