The "sides" are coming! The "sides" are coming!

Who won Super Tuesday?

I have to say that I think Huckabee was the real winner, not in terms of votes, but to go from what most pundits considered an annoying joke to within a hair of second place status -- all in one day -- that's the real story. That is a comeback by any standard.

But here I am, the morning after, with a political hangover, talking like a political junkie. How refreshing it was to see that there is someone who doesn't share the addiction of which I love to complain -- despite the fact that the addicts are trying to drag her in:

I'm really not very interested in politics. I'd be moderately satisfied having any of the major candidates as President. I write about politics because I'm absorbed by the dynamics of the fight and the rhetoric. (I feel much the same way about Supreme Court cases.) I'm not actually rooting for anyone, and so the news of who has actually won bores me a little. I can read it in a second on-line at any point. I don't really need to see Wolf Blitzer dramatize it for hours on end.

[...]

I need to remember myself and not create the impression that I'm another one of these political bloggers. I'm really not like them. My C-Span appearance got canceled because the blogger on the other side -- I was told, late in the day -- backed out. Side? I hadn't even been informed that I was booked to take a side. But -- I protested, after it didn't matter anymore -- I'm not on a side. I'm not able -- I'm not willing -- to hold up a side. My stress about going on the show was retroactively intensified. I had no business agreeing to do that.

It's nice to see a reminder of something I know but tend to forget -- there is no rule that I have to do this. I'm sometimes aghast that this blog is considered a political blog, because I honestly did not start it as a political blog, but as an act of what I hoped would be satirical rebellion against conventional politics, especially the mandatory side-taking which is demanded by conservative and liberal political junkies who believe in sides, and who do their damnedest to pigeonhole everyone -- especially those who don't want to be pigeonholed. So I find myself scolded as a conservative by liberals and as a liberal (or "anarchist") by conservatives.

Try to get out of identity politics, and they'll draaaag you back in. Death to all culture war traitors! My shtick of being against both sides of the Culture War causes me occasional fits of despair, and then I try to write my way out of them. The result is this blog, and like it or not, a political habit, which shows all signs of being an addiction. Whether I'm addicted to something I hate or whether I'm addicted to what I love to hate, only a good shrink could say.

But it's nice to be reminded that I am under no legal or moral obligation to do this.

As to the addiction, I can quit anytime. (And of course, "I control it," and "it would never happen to me.")

What on earth does this have to do with Huckabee?

Well, having pleaded guilty to being a political junkie, let me wallow a bit more in today's fix of choice.

For the past couple of weeks, there has been a constant chorus of bitter recrimination and vindictive acrimony growing to crescendo levels which no one who reads blogs or listens to talk radio could possibly ignore. Basically, anyone who is even remotely right of center and who tries to keep politically informed has been yelled at about how McCain will destroy the Republican principles, the Republican Party, and the United States of America, and that Mitt Romney is the conservative savior.

How two men who were both seen as RINOs before the current hoopla managed to become the Liberal Anti-Christ and the Conservative Savior is a story in itself. I can no more figure it out than Glenn Reynolds, who said this last night:

...McCain and Romney are both moderate Republicans; the differences between them have been exaggerated by those who don't like McCain, and don't have much bearing on what's good for the country. I realize that I've been accused of lacking fire, but while none of these candidates is close to my ideal, I really don't understand the Kossack-like anger here.
Lacking fire? Yeah, that's what they said about Fred Thompson too. (IMO, the best candidate in the race.)

Well, what if you're not into pyromania?

Pryomania is exactly what it is. I mean, I can joke all I want about stuff like the Coulter-Clinton-Buchanan axis, but some of these people have truly lost their marbles (and I do hope they get them back). They were even stooping to call pro-Romney people "pro-McCain" simply for allowing they'd vote for McCain if he won the nomination. And they called Rachel Lucas "insane" for pointing out statistics showing that John McCain is actually to the right of Hillary:

....I've been called several different variations of "insane" by conservatives because I agree with the American Conservative Union's data that says McCain is, in fact, more conservative than Clinton or Obama.

I've been told I'm drinking the Kool-Aid and proving it by continuing to refer to that data, which again I point out is from the American Conservative Union.

I've been called "glib" because I was vaguely humorous in the first post about all of this. Maybe if I'd been a dead-serious asshole about it, that would have been better?

The most obnoxious display of highly questionable reading skills is coming from those who continually refer to my posts about this as "support for McCain". What part of "I prefer Romney over McCain" do they not understand? What part of "McCain is an asshole and I don't like him" is so confusing?

It goes on and on, and it becomes more and more ridiculous. What really pisses me off is that no matter how relatively nice I've been about it, that counts for absolutely nothing to some of these people. There is some comfort in the fact that this makes them no better than the assholes on the left, but it still pisses me off. But I'm not going to call anyone names, no matter how many ways they question my intelligence and sanity....

Sorry, but those kind of tactics are indefensible, and while I think the people who behaved that way ought to be ashamed of themselves, I think it's more productive to examine how and why they failed to work.

My theory is that last night, many of the voters in the South saw Huckabee not so much as a real conservative, but as the only nice guy in the race.

OK, please. Let no one misunderstand what I am about to write. I consider Mike Huckabee's politics anathema. He's an incomprehensibly socialistic communitarian religious conservative muddle. If any candidate is the polar opposite of what I believe in, it is Mike Huckabee. As I said last night, if he is the candidate, I could not vote for him without chemical help.

But as was obvious last night, this is not so much about issues and positions. It is about human beings. The conservatives in the South are heavily religious, but they also tend to be very respectful of anyone with a strong military record like McCain's. They're smart enough to know that McCain is a RINO. I think they're smart enough to realize that Romney is a recently cleaned-up RINO (and a RINO who cleans up better, IMO). But they're also smart enough to know that McCain could beat Hillary Clinton, and they respect his military record. In a two man race between McCain and Romney, I think McCain would have won handily. And I think that had there not been the huge anti-McCain offensive, McCain would have won.

This is not to say that negative campaigning works, only that if you throw enough mud, some of it will stick. McCain did not help himself much with some of his disingenuous attacks on Romney, nor by the arrogance he displayed in acting like the presumptive winner. Still, he came in second, and according to the CNN exit polls Bill Schneider was citing last night, the majority of religious Huckabee voters said McCain -- not Romney -- was their second choice. (So much for the notion that Romney is "The Only Conservative.")

I think the vindictive nastiness turned people off to both McCain and Romney. And there was Mike Huckabee, a mild-mannered populist. Someone who doesn't talk down to people like Romney, and who doesn't frighten them like McCain (if only because there's been no anti-Huckabee hate machine to further frighten those who fear the politics of acrimony).

Huckabee was a protest vote. And I think a lot of the Huckabee voters weren't so much protesting McCain and Romney as they were the acrimony.

That Huckabee (a Southerner) was dismissed, derided, and laughed at by virtually all the MSM pundits might have been a factor too.

I have to admit, last night I, an anti-Huckabee guy to the core -- found myself very soothed by the reassuring cadences of Huckabee's voice, and the apparent simple humanity of the man, and it was immediately clear what happened. This might be irrational (and of course I am leaving out the Mormon issue -- which sooner or later will probably be addressed by someone), but there it is.

The angry anti-McCain chorus (and the response to it) created a backlash, not in McCain's favor, but in Huckabee's. I think they wanted to get even with the "sides" -- and I don't blame them even though I recognize that last night's Huckabee vote was in the long run little more than an act of retaliatory political vandalism.

As to where the anti-McCain chorus will go now, I don't know. I don't want to know either. I want it to stop, and I want to stop.

But rest assured that it won't stop.

And I can stop anytime I want.

(Riiiight.)

posted by Eric on 02.06.08 at 09:21 AM










Comments

It has been interesting seeing how both parties are coming apart along their factional lines. While that is clearly on display for the D party, the R party is doing it too. Each of the three candidates represents, in part, one of those factions, but there is an underlying schism going on that is liquidating one of them... and it is fascinating to watch. The idea of 'Big Tent Republicans' was to actually get a majority together to do some agreed-upon projects and one of those groups brought in is now saying: 'Where's the Beef?'

After 30 years of not producing as promised, they are starting to shift and are telling the party they don't abide by what has happened. They voted, they helped, they donated, the perservered and for...? None of their core issues have been addressed and, just the opposite, have been gone against by the R party. And the thing that should be worrying about it as they are the Traditionalists and they follow the views of the Revolution. They have *no* individual running for what they want or even mouthing the words... they have been forgotten for decades, assumed to be party-line voters.

Will they walk? Possibly, they are dogmatic in a way not known in the two parties. If they do, don't expect a *third party* as two have turned on them.

And if they stay... then the R party will need to decide where it has gotten these old liberal warhorses and big governmentites from and *why* they had agreed to put them out to pasture so long ago and have not done so. The strangest thing is that they are the ones who have gotten assent from a lot of rank and file, just not the party leadership. Putting someone at the top of the ticket that doesn't begin to represent them will not help at all. And that is what is about to happen.

ajacksonian   ·  February 6, 2008 11:57 AM

I wish someone would ask Mike Huckabee one question:

Will the free market have any role at all to play in his policies or does he believe that every last thing on earth must be done by the government?

Flash Gordon   ·  February 6, 2008 12:13 PM

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