Huckabee Getting Harriett Miers Treatment?

Huckabee Getting Harriett Miers Treatment? Marc Ambinder sees a “conservative counter-revolution” breaking out on talk radio and the blogosphere wherein the “same forces that joined to force the White House to withdraw Harriett Miers’ Supreme Court nomination” are ganging up against Mike Huckabee’s surging presidential campaign.

Rush Limbaugh, still the most listened-to talk radio host on the planet, has taken to calling Huckabee the “Huckster.” Not even Mitt Romney, in his most profane of moments, goes there.

Limbaugh theorizes that the media is rooting for Huckabee because they know he’s the kiss of death in the general election. And he has compared Huckabee unfavorably to Jimmy Carter — as a snake oil salesman in Southern Baptist garb who later sold his soul to liberals.

Not having listened to Limbaugh in years, I’m surprised he’s so passionately against Huckabee. Indeed, I had to do a quick Google search to verify that he opposed the Harriet Miers nomination.

The two debates are not quite the same. The opposition to Miers was that she seemed to have been picked for her loyalty to President Bush rather than her legal mind, whereas the reaction to Huckabee is much more multifaceted. Fiscal conservatives think he’s too liberal on spending, social conservatives think he’s too liberal on immigration, and libertarian conservatives think he’s too religious.

Still, there are similarities. In both cases, conservative intellectuals rebellied against someone we perceived as unqualified for the office to which they’re aspiring. Miers had a fine career, all the more remarkable for a woman entering the legal profession at a time when that was unusual, but she hadn’t demonstrated a sharp judicial philosophy. Huckabee was presumably a fairly competent governor but he seems not to have any grasp of conservative principles beyond “What Would Jesus Do?”

My guess is that Huckabee’s fate will be the same as Miers’. But there’s a rather important difference. Supreme Court nominees are voted for by the United States Senate and elite opinion, especially that of leaders in the legal community, is incredibly influential. Presidential nominees, by contrast, as selected by the most enthusiastic partisans. In this case, Rush Limbaugh’s opposition will be much more important than that of the blogosphere.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ron in Florida says:

    I have always been a ‘Fox News’ and Rush fan, but now I am finding out just who the Conservative elite are (the pundits that are controlled by the big business czars)!

    I always thought Fox News was fair and balanced, but I now know that that statement is one of the biggest lies in the media.

  2. Tano says:

    “he seems not to have any grasp of conservative principles beyond “What Would Jesus Do?””

    Strange way of putting it. It seems that his interest in “what jesus would do” is the doorway to his liberalism, not the only example of his conservatism.

    Is there any part of the modern American conservative agenda that aligns with the spirit of Jesus?

    War instead of love? Pursuit of ones private wealth instead of concern for one’s fellow citizens? Fear of the “other” instead of embracing them?

    Seems to me that the “christian” right promotes the least christ-like agenda possible.

  3. Steve Plunk says:

    Tano,

    Now I’m not a church going Christian conservative but I respect those who are and understand why they would see your remarks as offensive.

    Twisting the conservative agenda in the way you do does a real disservice to serious debate concerning public policy. “War in instead of love”? How about freeing the oppressed and protecting America from terrorists? You see it can be viewed very differently. In fact all of the examples you cited can be viewed differently.

    It is wrong for either side to invoke Christ as being on on their “team”. The bible is very clear that our religious lives and sectarian lives are separate. Public policy positions can sometimes seem harsh and un-Christian but may be grounded firmly in Christian beliefs. Even then that doesn’t mean they should get a pass as being good or justified.

  4. SJ Reidhead says:

    For the past few days on The Pink Flamingo I’ve been predicting something like this would happen.

    SJ Reidhead
    The Pink Flamingo

  5. fester says:

    James — Interesting, but I think both your analysis and Ambinger’s analysis is missing something and that is the ability/willingness to pushback. I have more at the NewsHog, but IIRC, Bush was about the only major champion for Miers, while everyone else in the Republican coalition’s reaction ranged from “Ehhh, why not” to disgust at the lack of high level qualification that you attribute to conservative intellectuals. Miers had no significant stakeholder buy-in or powerful Senate backers.

    Huckabee has a significant chunk of the GOP coalition as his stakeholders, Christian conservatives, and they are willing to push back and push back hard. Miers had no one who was willing to push back in her defense.

    I still think Huckabee loses due to his lack of organizational capacity and the movement of primaries away from his friendly terrain, but I think his downfall will be significantly different than Miers that only looking at his opposition’s similiarity to Miers is an analytical weakness.

  6. bains says:

    I have always been a ‘Fox News’ and Rush fan, but now I am finding out just who the Conservative elite are…

    The conservative elites you speak of have a fair grasp upon the overall pulse of right leaning voters. Pro-life is not the end-all-be-all issue. Moreover, being right on this issue while wrong on virtually all else hardly makes a conservative. That is the reason for the recent scrutiny of Huckabee.

  7. Wayne says:

    I don’t like people making this a religious issue. Huckabee has my attention but I would like more information. Many of these bogus attacks make me question all the attacks on him. Also many of these religious orientated attacks may come off as an attack on Christianity. I believe many are tired of attacks on Christianity and may give support to Huckabee in response to it. I like Huck to stand and fall on his own character and not as a symbol of religion.

    People seeing floating crosses from a bookcase in the background only shows their own bigotry. Knock it off and let us get back to real issues.

  8. twain says:

    Fiscal conservatives think he’s too liberal on spending, social conservatives think he’s too liberal on immigration, and libertarian conservatives think he’s too religious.

    Hm… seems like the perfect choice. I mean, that’s what they’re going to get anyway. Or rather: that’s what they’re going to complain about, no matter who wins the nomination.

  9. bains says:

    I don’t like people making this a religious issue.

    Huckabee made religion an issue. But yes, the focus on his xmas commercial is over the top. That, and it doesnt bother me one whit (I’m agnostic) said, if he or his campaign did not see how the background could be construed as a cross, then both he and his campaign are really obtuse.

  10. floyd says:

    Ron in Florida;
    I have followed Rush’s career from Cape Giradeau on. There is no doubt that he has abandoned the values that made him great and joined the “Conservative elite”. Actually maybe just the “corporate elite” since he is hardly a conservative anymore.
    I agree with your point entirely!

  11. People seeing floating crosses from a bookcase in the background only shows their own bigotry

    For what it is worth, I am a regular church-attender at a religiously conservative church and have a Southern Baptist background and I immediately assumed that the cross imagery was on purpose when I saw that commercial. I see no reason that thinking that is bigoted.

    And really, I think one of the previous commenters is quite correct: Huckabee himself has made religion part of this debate.

  12. Muwatallis says:

    The issue is only partially religion. It is primarily class.

    Huckabee’s combination of social conservatism and economic populism precisely reflects the cultural values and economic interests of working class and lower middle class Americans whom the GOP always expected to be the footsoldiers of cheap labor free trade policies that decimate them. Well, the rabble are pushing back. This isn’t just about religion (well, given that GOP libertarian elites have no respect for Christians or Christianity it is largely so). It is about the same populists vs cheap labor elites power struggle we saw over “comprehensive immigration reform”. And the American people are on the populist side.

  13. Don says:

    Huckabee is the direct result of the big tent party being taken over by the circus clowns. Those who despise and belittle traditional values enough to submit people like the ultra liberal and character/deprived Gulianni as a GOP candidate shouldn’t be surprised when the Christians in the party revolt by putting up a poor choice like Pastor Mike.

    300 million people in America and look at our lousy choices for leaders -present and future hopefuls: surely we can and need to do better!

  14. Wayne says:

    “I immediately assumed that the cross imagery was on purpose when I saw that commercial”

    I immediate assume it could have been purpose or maybe just a coincidence. When I saw the commercial without the highlighting that many shows put on the bookcase in back, I didn’t give it any relevance.

    Again it is much hype about how people interpret it though their bias perspective. Bias can be for or against a view. No one has shown any proof that it was intentional.

    Even if it was intentional what is the big deal. Many politicians have used religious references. How many are intentional film coming out of a church or visiting a religious organization. It is only because many have tried to label Huck as being a religious zealot that it gets press.

  15. floyd says:

    That wasn’t a OMG…. Christmas tree in the background ….. Nah; he’s probably just growing a bush in his living room to show support for the present administration.
    Whew!!… the hyperbole mongers can relax for a few seconds.