Thursday, February 14, 2008

McCain Needs To Heart Huckabee As Veep


As fast as he could say, "Shazzam!" the Gomer Pyle-esque former Arkansas governor became a presidential player, again.

After winning the Iowa caucus last month, he went from Hucka-who? to “I heart Huckabee” before acting like a downright huckleberry.

The roller coaster campaign of Mike Huckabee was saved by the South and, maybe, Jesus himself.

 While he didn't sufficiently slow the John McCain Straight Talk (soon-to-be-less-candid-GOP-nominee) Express from streaking to the national convention in the Twin Cities, he did boost his chances for a place on the Republican ticket.

The McCain/Huckabee dynamic must be viewed as a mixed bag. The Republican came a step closer to anointing the latest heir to Ronald Reagan, but Huckabee's strong showing in Dixie again reveals an enormous fissure within the God-trumps-your-Constitution set and independent voters who enjoy McCain's willingness to reach across the aisle.

Is there another evangelical Christian in the Republican party up to the task of making conservatives feel whole other than Huckabee?

 If one existed it’s likely they would already be in the race where a bonafide red-meat-eating conservative is nowhere to be found.

Although he was successful early in Iowa, he never had the presidential purse strings or the willing donors to make much of a run, anyway, but his ability to preach to Southern values is his most valuable asset.

McCain has shown that he is unable to win in a Southern state other than South Carolina, where he has a unique history and a boatload of servicemen. Evidently, Huckabee has such sway south of the Mason-Dixon line that he easily won Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and his own state, Arkansas.

Obviously, it seems like a marriage made in heaven and they even like each other or share a common contempt for Mitt Romney.

 Such a ticket has inherent problem, though.

Many attribute McCain's earlier fall from grace, last year, to the fact he sold out his sterling reputation as a maverick politician when he courted President Bush's Christian cohorts. When he bowed at the altar of the late Jerry Falwell, he lost all of his street cred in Independentville, USA.

Now that "Mac is back", he might, again, be forced to court that same constituency or lose the general election. Without someone like Huckabee, McCain would have to cobble together an deadlocked electoral scenario without the GOP's main voting bloc, the Deep South.

McCain's version of the “Southern Strategy” forces a conundrum. Veer hard to right as he unsuccessfully did last year or softly shift to the center of left and make Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter blow steam from their ears.

Outside the political nuts and bolts, Huckabee as VP has many desirable traits. He battle-ready after honing his message on the stump for the last year. He folksy and, by the low standards of politicians, pretty funny.

What's not funny is some of beliefs. 

This is a candidate who, at times, sounds more like a West-hating cleric than an American Baptist preacher. Last week he said, 

"I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that's what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards."

He also supports rewriting the 14th amendment by denying citizenship to children born to illegal immigrants.

 Behind his quick affable persona and quick-fingered bass playing lies something as poisonous to McCain's presidential aspirations.

It's a deal with the Devil that he flirted with before, but with the White House within his reach, McCain/Huckabee '08 may be his only chance.

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