Angry New Mexican here with the first of a series of writeups on the ’08 presidential candidates. Sure, the election is a year and a half away, but it’s never to early to start the madness. There’s already a bunch of vacuous talking heads making the rounds in Iowa and New Hampshire. To start this off, I figured I’d comment on the few actual conservatives running for the Republican nomination and their chances (or total lack thereof) for winning it all. The recent pow-wow of Christian conservatives at a posh Florida resort (as reported on by The New York Times) illustrates their conundrum — the front runners in the race are anathema to True Believers(TM) in the conservative cause. Let’s face it, without Fred Thompson, who can save them? Since Mr. Thompson is still chalking up his campaign time on Law & Order, not the campaign trail, he’s out at the moment. So let’s see what sort of options our friends discussed down in the land of we-don’t-know-how-to-run-an-election :
Mike Huckabee (Former Governor, AK) – Huckabee’s the picture perfect New Southern Republican. He defeated the Clintonistas to become the second Republican since Reconstruction to govern the state (back then the Republicans liked black people). He’s even a honest to goodness Baptist Minister and former President of his state’s Baptist Convention. His website has the needlessly cute reference to President Eisenhower, using the title bar “I Like Mike.” He’s evidently a moderately talented bassist and his band has opened for the likes of Willie Nelson and Charlie Daniels.
So what’s not to like about Huckabee? Why have the social conservatives not anointed him with oil as their champion and sent him to fight the Democratic Philistines? You see, Mike Huckabee committed what may be the only unpardonable sin (hint: not blasphemy against the Holy Spirit). He raised taxes as the governor of Arkansas. You see this recent gathering of social conservatives of the Christian variety included the likes of Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Freedom. What anti-tax activists are doing at a gathering of social conservatives is a mystery to me, but evidently some good Christian folk feel that if a single copper coin was good enough for Jesus’ taxes, it’s good enough for us (cf. Mt 17:25-27). But worry not, Mr. Norquist feels that Huckabee could find “secondary [tax] virginity” and win his munificent blessing if he signs a commitment to avoid falling once again into the insidious clutches of Mammon by raising taxes. Um, yeah.
Duncan Hunter (House, CA) – Here’s your red blooded conservative champion. He sponsored the Secure Fence Act, you know the “Great Wall of Mexico,” which still he maintains as one of his key campaign issues. He supports amending the Constitution at least twice (right to life and strictly heterosexual marriage). But, it appears that Mr. Hunter has some problems with a little thing known as “ethics” (not a strong point for conservatives these days). His ties to Randy “Duke” Cunningham belie the squeeky clean looks he’s aiming for, and the voters have not been friendly as of late to scandal-tainted candidates.
Sam Brownback (Senator, KS) – Here’s the highest profile actual conservative. He’s got a network of notable social conservatives on his side, including Tom Monaghan. Tom, is it not enough to inflict your crappy pizza upon the world, must you also infect us with crappy politics? Anyway, Sam’s got solid socially conservative positions on all the hot button issues and he’s loud about Darfur. He’s even openly doubtful about Bush’s recent troop surge in Iraq. So what’s the problem? His poll numbers are single digits and there are serious doubts about his electability. In a recent GOP straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference he could only pull 15% of the vote … two percent behind the liberal Rudy Giuliani. That’s pretty bad odds for the conservative golden boy.
So that wrap’s up the first of the candidate roundup series: Conservatives stuck without good options and desperate to avoid having to choose either John “Soft-on-torture” McCain, Rudy “Yes, I had a mistress” Giuliani or Mitt “I’m more pro-gay than Ted Kennedy, no wait I flip-flopped” Romney. A bleeding heart might just go out to them. But they’re conservatives, so therefore it must be their own fault. Yay for personal responsibility!