MIKE HUCKABEE: LET THE FRAGGING BEGIN
Many people believe the conventional wisdom that you can't possibly win the Republican presidential nomination if you have liberal or moderate position on social issues. You know that I believe differently -- that I think Giuliani has developed a line of kill-the-brutes rhetoric and built up a myth about himself that give him a real chance to win despite the objections of (some) fundamentalists.
The flip side of this argument concerns Mike Huckabee: There's a belief that because he does pass all the fundie litmus tests with flying colors, and is a minister from the South, he could become a first-tier candidate, or a good VP choice for, say, Mitt or Rudy.
I don't believe that -- I think if there's one group you really can't cross in the GOP, it's the pro-business bloc. Oh, sure, you can give the A-listers a scare, a la Pat Buchanan in '92, but that's it. And no one's going to put you on a ticket.
So I've been waiting for the moment when the Republican fragging of Huckabee will begin in earnest -- after all, this is a guy who says,
The first thing we've gotta do as a Republican party is quit being a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wall Street....
A few months ago the Club for Growth was attacking Huckabee in the press and in a TV ad. But today the anti-Huckabee campaign escalates significantly, with a full-on assault by onetime Limbaugh ghostwriter John Fund in The Wall Street Journal. Fund pulls no punches:
...Betsy Hagan, Arkansas director of the conservative Eagle Forum and a key backer of his early runs for office, was once "his No. 1 fan." She was bitterly disappointed with his record. "He was pro-life and pro-gun, but otherwise a liberal," she says. "Just like Bill Clinton he will charm you, but don't be surprised if he takes a completely different turn in office."
Ouch -- he's a liberal! And he's like Bill Clinton! That's gotta hurt.
There's much more.
Phyllis Schlafly, president of the national Eagle Forum, is even more blunt. "He destroyed the conservative movement in Arkansas, and left the Republican Party a shambles," she says. "Yet some of the same evangelicals who sold us on George W. Bush as a 'compassionate conservative' are now trying to sell us on Mike Huckabee."
... "He has zero intellectual underpinnings in the conservative movement," says Blant Hurt, a former part owner of, and columnist for, Arkansas Business magazine. "He's hostile to free trade, hiked sales and grocery taxes, backed sales taxes on Internet purchases, and presided over state spending going up more than twice the inflation rate."
... The Club for Growth notes that only a handful of the 33 current GOP state legislators back their former governor....
And here's the coup de grace:
Rick Scarborough, a pastor who heads Vision America, attended seminary with Mr. Huckabee and is a strong backer. But, he acknowledges, "Mike has always sought the validation of elites."
"The validation of elites." A hit, a palpable hit!
Fund wants to be sure you read that because, to hardcore Republicans, it's one of the worst possible insults. But just in case that didn't finish Huckabee off, Fund gives him one more, for good measure:
Only he and John McCain have endorsed the discredited cap-and-trade system to limit global-warming emissions that has proved a fiasco in Europe.
"It goes to the moral issue," he told an admiring group of environmentalists this month.
"An admiring group of environmentalists"! That's almost as bad as "validation of elites"!
Call 911 -- this guy is suffering massive blood loss. And I predict there's going to be a lot more where that came from if the sense that Huckabee is a threat to the front-runners persists.