Friday, January 4, 2008

Brooks on Huckabee

Brooks is worth reading here:
Huckabee won because he tapped into realities that other Republicans have been slow to recognize. First, evangelicals have changed. Huckabee is the first ironic evangelical on the national stage. He’s funny, campy (see his Chuck Norris fixation) and he’s not at war with modern culture.

Second, Huckabee understands much better than Mitt Romney that we have a crisis of authority in this country. People have lost faith in their leaders’ ability to respond to problems. While Romney embodies the leadership class, Huckabee went after it. He criticized Wall Street and K Street. Most importantly, he sensed that conservatives do not believe their own movement is well led. He took on Rush Limbaugh, the Club for Growth and even President Bush. The old guard threw everything they had at him, and their diminished power is now exposed.

Third, Huckabee understands how middle-class anxiety is really lived. Democrats talk about wages. But real middle-class families have more to fear economically from divorce than from a free trade pact. A person’s lifetime prospects will be threatened more by single parenting than by outsourcing. Huckabee understands that economic well-being is fused with social and moral well-being, and he talks about the inter-relationship in a way no other candidate has.

In that sense, Huckabee’s victory is not a step into the past. It opens up the way for a new coalition...

Huckabee probably won’t be the nominee, but starting last night in Iowa, an evangelical began the Republican Reformation.

I've always hoped that Giuliani's brand of economic conservatism coupled with a laissez-faire attitude on social issues would form the kernel around which a new moderate coalition could form. That appears to be less and less likely to happen, although we'll see what happens after Rudy does his time in the penalty box and the press miraculously "rediscovers" him just in time for super-duper Tuesday.

But maybe the answer isn't to seed the proper coalition; maybe the answer is simply to break down the existing one and wait for the appropriate self-organizing behavior to re-make the GOP. To that end, the Huckabee phenomenon may be useful. He has certainly shattered the old coalition with yesterday's Iowa victory.

Mind you, I still won't vote for the man under any circumstances.

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