by Max Brantley
GOD AS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: George Will is tiring of Bro. Huck sounds like. (And you should get a load of the wonderful film clip (above) The Daily Show put together of Huck's holy pronouncements by way of answering his complaint that he gets all the God questions.) From Will's column:
Many Republicans think that, come what may, things will come out the way Providence intends. Daniel Webster said "miracles do not cluster," but Webster did not anticipate Mike Huckabee, whose campaign manager is, evidently, God. Two months ago, Huckabee said he rose in Iowa because of divine intervention (the power that propelled him there was not "human" but the one that fed the multitudes with two fish and five loaves). On Saturday, as he was winning the caucuses in Kansas, where many Republicans think Darwin should go back to Missouri where he came from, Huckabee said that the arithmetic is daunting (he must win almost all the remaining delegates to stop McCain) but he shall persevere:
"I know people say that the math doesn't work out. Folks, I didn't major in math. I majored in miracles, and I still believe in those, too."
Although some of his supporters defend him against the accusation of sincerity, it is not unfair to assume that Huckabee, who has made his piety integral to his politics, means what he says. There is appealing clarity, but also a whiff of lunacy or charlatanry, in the theory that the Author of the Universe is writing his campaign story. "The world," wrote the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, "is charged with the grandeur of God." The world, perhaps, but the Republican delegate scramble?
Maybe Huckabee hopes that his credentials as a potential running mate for McCain will be strengthened if he achieves a (strictly speaking) providential victory in the Texas primary. McCain might, however, prefer a vice president who is less directly guided by Providence. And McCain will not long be amused by Huckabee continuing to offer himself as a vessel into which conservatives pour their disapproval of the inevitable.
GOD'S MAP: Blogger here says Huckabee is doing Repubs a favor by continuing his windmill-tilting because the votes provide a precise map of where pockets of Religious Right voters are concentrated.
"It bothers me more that I'm having to go out of the country to make money to pay for the other guys, ... that you and I are having to fund candidaters who get a federal taxpayer paycheck whether they show up for the job and vote or not. I still have to pay my bills and I have to pay theirs. ... I'm subsidizing my opponents in that way."
'GHOULISH CABARET': A North Carolina alt weekly beholds what's become of the party of Lincoln. A good sample is on the jump.
From The Independent:
In its pursuit of power, the Republican Party has dismembered and reassembled itself so that a thousand livid sutures are showing. It's not a party but a Frankenstein monster, patched together from dead and discontinued materials, organ transplants that may yet be rejected, rough pieces that look familiar but never match. Since the party's symbol is the elephant, the parable of the blind men and the elephant is relevant: Touch the thing here and it's a briefcase, over there a cross, down there a bomb, a gasoline pump, a pistol, a golf club, a fetus—a noose? Republicans are no longer a party but a loose coalition of Americans who hate things—different things—praying that fear and aversion can win them another four years of power and excess. Ed Rollins, the old Ronald Reagan operative now working for Mike Huckabee, recently acknowledged the party's unnatural composition and the fact that hasty old stitch work is coming undone. "It's gone," said Rollins. "The breakup of what was the Reagan coalition—social conservatives, defense conservatives, anti-tax conservatives—it doesn't mean a whole lot to people anymore."
What is this quilted, decomposing thing, lurching across the cornfields, scaring crows in Iowa and moose in New Hampshire, terrifying the lowly possum in the South Carolina pinewoods? It used to be my daddy's party, his beloved GOP. Without a coherent identity, without appealing or plausible candidates who can even simulate sincerity, the patchwork party's primary season has been a ghoulish cabaret, scary-funny, more Mel Brooks than Mary Shelley. Every morning's newswire yielded comic treasure. Did Giuliani really say "I took a city that was known for pornography and licked it to a large extent"? Is it possible that his panicked opponents have tried to hamstring the surging fundamentalist Huckabee, who repudiates evolution, by calling him a liberal? And Huckabee, pressed to defend a son who killed a stray dog at a Boy Scout camp—god love our working press—did he say "It was mangy—it looked like it was going to attack"?
John McCain, now the presumptive GOP nominee, earned his idiot stripes by declaring that "the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation"—an embarrassment he could have avoided by reading our absolutely God-and-Christ-free Constitution on page 498 of the new World Almanac. Romney and Giuliani would reverse themselves up to 180 degrees on guns and abortions; Romney styled himself a secret hunter, a closet Nimrod, though there's not as much as a shotgun pellet to prove it. The candidates were divided on the issue of—torture? In their clumsy passion to whore their way into the hearts of Republican conservatives, these mangy candidates have the look of dogs that won't hunt anywhere.