The victory of Former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) in the Iowa GOP Caucus has had various sectors of the opining Right reeling with shock, dismay and, often, anger.
It’s the shock that is the most revealing; not revealing of the winner but of many of the pundits. Pundits seem to have forgotten—or had never considered—the proclivities of human nature when considering who appeals to the average person. Two factors of that nature played key roles in the governor’s victory.
Starting with the charisma factor, Huckabee is a smiling, pleasant individual who talks with a sweet, measured voice adorned with the soothing Southern cadence and style of the preacher that he is. He uses the language of hope, change and unification of Americans of both parties. And that’s what people like. For better or worse, people are tired of the polarization which the Bush and Clinton families seem to evoke. People want to feel good about their president and want him (yes, him) to make them feel good. And Governor Huckabee does indeed do that—if you’re not looking too closely.
If you are looking closely, you’ll notice that the governor is utilizing another tool that is made more palatable to some by his dulcet tones and that tool is… tribalism. Yes, I said it--tribalism. Even more disconcerting, the governor is using that tribalism to cover for the fact that his gubernatorial record is anything but that of a conservative.
“What’s the composition of Huckabee’s tribe,” I hear you ask. That “tribe” is composed of Christians. As it happens, I happen to be a member of this “tribe” also, but I’m under no illusion that I am supposed to agree with or vote for another other member of that “tribe” simply because of shared membership--any more that I agree with the words and deeds of all Luos; or all Americans. Others members of the Christian “tribe,” however, have noticed Huckabee’s label—Christian and former Baptist minister-- and aren’t bothering to read the list of ingredients.
Huckabee says to Republican Christians, “I’m one of you; vote for me” and enough Republican conservative (?) members of our “tribe” in Iowa said “okay, we will.”
Does any of this sound familiar? Okay, this analogy is a very imperfect one to the situation in Kenya in that there are no allegations of voter fraud and no dead bodies. (I might be forgiven for stating these obvious disclaimers because if I didn’t, some screaming Mimi is always lying in wait to twist the words of an ideological opponent. Ask Glenn Reynolds and Jonah Goldberg.)
Now some of the Republican “tribal outsiders” are preparing to blame the “Christian Right” if Huckabee become the GOP’s nominee for president even if the vast majority of those on the Right who are Christian find Governor Huckabee to be a totally unacceptable candidate for president; a sort of reverse tribalism, if you will. (Or maybe it’s a form of profiling. Or some other concept created to designate bad stuff. Heck, all this infighting of various sets of brethren makes me want to build my desert bunker.) This is what is being stirred up by Huckabee’s wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing candidacy.
I began to write the above missive right after Governor Huckabee won the Iowa Democratic Caucus. Today we read from a Daily Press article (via Bryan Preston at Hot Air) that the governor used to use a term for his “fellow” Republicans—“Shi’te Republicans”—to refer to a
species of Republican true believers […] in Arkansas who've always suspected his bona fides as an honest-to-goodness fiscal conservative and social reactionary.Says Bryan:
He’ll say conservative things in order to win approval from some part of the party’s base, but when push comes to shove he instinctively goes for the non-conservative side of the argument. I’m not just talking about calling Republicans “Shiites,” a quote that’s sure to get played over and over again if he’s the nominee, or about his raising taxes rather than cutting spending as the Arkansas “Shiite Republicans” wanted him to do, but about his swift shifts on issues like Gitmo and using the leftish “bunker mentality” slam on the Bush administration.Christians, he’s a liberal in Christian Right clothing. One might as well vote for Clinton or Obama.
One more thing: am I the only one that is insulted on behalf of the Iraqis that an American politician running for president is using the religion of the majority of their citizens as a pejorative?
I'm sure that will do wonders for our Iraq policy. :::insert rolling eyes here:::