Sunday, August 12, 2007

Huckabee wins Ames (in a manner of speaking)

I've been reading the Corner's blogging on the Iowa Ames straw poll. The surprise second-place finisher at the Ames straw poll was Mike Huckabee. My first introduction to Mike Huckabee was in the FOX News Republican presidential debate when he was ambushed with a question about evolution. I'd never heard of him before, but the wording of the question warned me that Huckabee was a religious conservative who was about to embarrass* the Republican party by ranting about the godless evolutionists in our school system; instead, he surprised me with a very measured, humble, and forthright response. I was especially happy that he took the questioner to task for bringing up the subject in the first place.

Huckabee continued to impress me in the debate, and I recall thinking afterward that I would like to support him, but that there were two contraindications. First, he was not one of the front runners --better to support Romney and see him win than support someone who has no chance and see Giuliani win. Second, Huckabee is a religiously-conservative former Baptist minister and I've always felt that a large proportion of the Bush hatred is inspired by religious bigotry against religiously conservative Christians. I'm not sure if the country can take another four years of this sort of animosity.

But this implies that we can never have another openly-Christian, openly-conservative person in the presidency without having 40% of the country hate, despise and revile him for the entire duration of his term. Has the social breakdown gone so far? I don't think I'm ready to throw in the towel on that score yet, and anyway, the Left has never seen a defeat that didn't call for a long, drawn out, vicious, intemperate, defamatory, mass hissy fit. So I decided that reason 2 was not a good reason; such thinking is a surrender to spite and hatred. It would be unjust if it were impossible for any committed Christian to be president just because so many Americans hate Christians. I want peace among Americans, but not more than I want justice.

And now, it seems that reason number 1 may no longer be valid. Noam Scheiber writes:
there seem to be a lot of social conservatives currently supporting Romney because he's running as the most conservative of the top-tier candidates. Now that Huckabee has demonstrated his viability, it's not hard to imagine him peeling off a decent number of Romney's conservative backers.
I read this and though, "Hey, that's me!" Romney is a good guy and I would be happy to vote for him as president. But he's not a great guy. I'm not sure I can trust him on immigration or court nominees, and he's not talking about killing federal programs. Huckabee is probably to my right on the first two issues, which makes him a good balance to the Washington machine, and he's as far right as you can get on the third issue and still have any chance of being elected --which is still well to my left :-).

There's another good reason to like Huckabee: he's cool. Here's a music video of him playing the Credence tune Green River I never particularly liked CCR's album version, but this band makes it sound good. In the clip, Huckabee says that he has a band called "Capitol Offense" (I'm guessing at the spelling of "Capitol" as a pun on the fact that the band members came from the state capitol). Huckabee plays an electric bass, which is way cooler than a saxophone. I found another clip where he's playing Sweet Home Alabama, but the audio is so bad that it's not worth linking. And according to the Des Moines Register, he was doing Free Bird at Ames. I'm not crazy about Free Bird, but the guy's been seen playing two Skynard tunes and one CCR, so he's officially cool even if he does play an occasional song by the Beetles --the most over-rated band in all of world history. This coolness factor, if played right, has the potential to suppress a lot of the anti-Christian hostility (in the voice of Bart Simpson's bus driver): "Hey, dude, sure he's like a preacher-dude, but he also plays the Stones, dude. Rock on!"

footnotes
* Not that I think it is embarrassing to be skeptical about evolution, just that in the current debate-stifling environment, you can't possibly argue such a position in a way that won't leave a substantial proportion of Americans thinking that you are a loon, even in a supposedly open-minded academic environment, much less in a political arena dominated by reporters and commentators who have been conditioned to think of evolution skeptics as loons.

acknowledgements
Several of the links here came from the Corner.

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