Republicans Love Barack Obama – For Now

Republicans Love Barack Obama George Will closes a subpar (by his standards, at least) column on the silly populism of Mike Huckabee and John Edwards with this praise for Barack Obama:

Barack Obama, who might be mercifully closing the Clinton parenthesis in presidential history, is refreshingly cerebral amid this recrudescence of the paranoid style in American politics. He is the un-Edwards and un-Huckabee — an adult aiming to reform the real world rather than an adolescent fantasizing mock-heroic “fights” against fictitious villains in a left-wing cartoon version of this country.

Will seems to be joining the growing chorus of Republicans, even conservative ones, who claim they would vote for Obama over Huckabee. Michael Totten is the latest blogger I’ve seen make that assertion. Stephen Green seems to be leaning that way (and may have stated so outright, although his archives are FUBAR as the moment). I’ve seen a handful of others in recent days, although their names escape me.

One wonders how many will actually follow through on this, in the unlikely event that Obama-Huckabee turns out to be the general election matchup? I suspect most partisans will ultimately find a way to rationalize holding their nose and voting for whomever gets the nomination.

Right now, Obama is drawing praise from the likes of George Will, Peggy Noonan, and Stephen Hayes. But Glenn Greenwald and John Cole figure that the Republican flirtation with Obama will dissipate and turn into rage quickly if he’s the nominee. While overstated, they’ve got a point: Both parties have a way of painting the opponent as devils and stoking the flames of fear.

Then again, there are plenty of small government conservatives in the Andrew Sullivan mold who aren’t wed to the GOP and plenty of libertarian-minded Republicans were already worried about the power of the Pat Robertson wing of the party before Huckabee’s emergence.

Tom Bernstein, a Yale classmate of President Bush who co-owned the Texas Rangers baseball team with him and Matthew Dowd, Bush’s chief campaign strategist in 2004, jumped on the Obama bandwagon early — long before anyone took Huckabee seriously as a candidate. So, there’s rather clearly a draw there beyond Huckafear.

It’s also noteworthy that none of the Republican candidates last night did a particularly good job last night answering the question why, if Obama were to get the Democratic nomination, voters should pick them over him. Simply shouting “Liberal!” isn’t going to work after seven years during which elected Republicans demonstrated a combination of incompetence, disregard for civil liberties and the Constitution, and lost any claim to fiscal responsibility.

Recent polls have Huckabee as a double digit loser to any of the top three Democrats running; that’s mostly a function of name recognition, though. And Sully asks an interesting question: “If Obama is the Democratic nominee, many Republicans will cross over to vote for him. If Huckabee is the Republican nominee, will left-wing populists and blue-collar Dems cross over for him?” My guess is that quite a few will. Mark Steyn‘s right, I think, about the Huckster’s homey appeal.

Ultimately, I don’t think either Huckabee or Obama will get his party’s nomination. That match-up, though, would be very interesting to see from a purely sociological perspective.

Photo: Ke Kehuki via Google Images.

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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. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Chris says:

    Ultimately, I don’t think either Huckabee or Obama will get his party’s nomination. That match-up, though, would be very interesting to see from a purely sociological perspective.

    Is that a joke? The Democratic primary is over 1/26 once Obama pulls off the sweep – Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Not sure about Huckabee. Iowa is the only early state willing to put religion ahead of EVERYTHING else. And, it doesn’t help that he can’t raise money.

  2. Bithead says:

    Huckabee and Romney.. and to a somewhat different field, McCain are all in the name of populism, trying to tilt left into what has been Democrat territory.

    Unfortunately this goes to something that I have spoken to in the past. Namely, when Republicans try to play the populist, and in the doing, swing left into that which has traditionally been Democrat territory, why would people bother voting for Republicans at all?

    And as for Will, he’s been on the edge of losing his conservative creds for some time now. Can we point to this column to suggest he’s lost them outright, now?

  3. nobody says:

    “Ultimately, I don’t think … Obama will get his party’s nomination.”

    Uh, what? Have you even been following the news lately? This bizarre last line casts the whole rest of your post into doubt.

  4. Bill says:

    If George Wills wants to rid the Republican party of the Social Conservatives, He will take it back to the Barry Goldwater years when it only had 18% of Americans.

    If He supports Obama, the most Liberal of the Liberal, He is not even a fiscal conservative.

  5. Beth says:

    is refreshingly cerebral

    Gag me. What Obama offers is a symphony of vacuous platitudes, bolstered by an interesting life story. Nothing more.

    Jeff Harrell is another Republican on Obama’s bandwagon. Frankly, I’m surprised that these honestly intelligent people are falling for Obama. I understand the allure of electing a black man with an interesting personal history to the Presidency–it’s a fundamentally American trait to want to see someone like him succeed. But really, I think that for Republicans, we CAN do better. There are plenty of people like Obama who have actual conservative (or even centrist, which Obama is not) politics that we can support.
    I also understand the wish for “unity,” about which Obama likes to speak. I absolutely do NOT believe Obama is the man for it, nor, really, can any of the current candidates do it. Bill Clinton was supposedly a likeable guy (not to me) with an “interesting” personal history and tended to govern (after the addition of Dick Morris) more to the center. There was absolutely NO unity during those days, although it was nothing like it is now. I just don’t think we’re going to go from this toxic, BDS-afflicted environment–especially during a war to which half the public is bitterly opposed!–with the election of one man or woman (okay, especially that woman). It’s going to take a lot more than Barack Hussein Obama and his platitudes for most to humanize “the other side” again.

    At the very least, Obama ought to spend some more time in the Senate (I’d be happier seeing a Republican replace him, but it IS Illinois). He wasn’t even there yet to vote on the Iraq War Resolution, fer crying out loud! He’s almost a blank slate for most people, which causes them to project all sorts of virtues onto him. I scoff at these messiah fantasies.

    BTW, I saw Laura Ingraham gushing over Obama last night on teevee. She was saying that the foreign press absolutely adores Obama, and that he’s the “world candidate.” That alone is enough reason to draw back in disgust. And speaking of the “world candidate,” I wonder, who’d be his Secretary of State? Jesse Jackson? You know he’s dreaming of the job–he’s virtually campaigned for it half his life by hobnobbing with America’s foes. Furthermore, it’s not like Obama is opposed to “dialogue” with the likes of the Iranian mullahs, Chavez, the Norks, etc. No wonder the anti-American foreign press loves him.

  6. Tlaloc says:

    ah, yes, only the current incarnation of the GOP, replete with xenophobia, could construe “world’s candidate” as something negative.

    Goodness knows at a point when we are about to break our military and are supposedly facing some monolithic global jihadist threat, the might of which is said to rival the cold war soviets, we surely wouldn’t want to elect a president popular with them damn “furriners.”

  7. Derrick says:


    Don’t also forget that Beth thinks he would elect Jesse Jackson as his SOS because you know Jesse is black and Obama is black so it makes sense, because black people with two completely different philosophies who don’t even support one another would give one a cabinet position? Beth’s great reasons for being against Obama are basically that he’s black, he has a Muslim middle name and foreigners like him. That’s like the trifecta of racism, bigotry and xenophobia.

  8. Beth says:

    only the current incarnation of the GOP, replete with xenophobia

    No, silly, it’s because I want to elect a President of the UNITED STATES, not of the UN. Sorry if you think that’s xenophobia, but that’s your problem.

    And Derrick, thank you for confirming PRECISELY what I knew you Obamaniacs would say. If you don’t support Obama, you’re a racist!!!1!1 Whatever, you have no idea what you’re talking about or whom you’re talking about, and I frankly don’t need to defend my own anti-racist credentials to some tool on teh intarwebz. I live in the real world, and my life speaks for itself.

    And where did I say anything about him having a Muslim middle name? I merely said it, as I would say “Hillary Rodham Clinton” or whatever. Apparently it’s an issue for you.
    As a matter of fact, I’ve mocked those who have tried to make it an issue. Not that someone as laughably prejudiced as you deserves any response.


  9. Beth says:

    By the way, you’ve both done a fine job of proving that Obamessiah isn’t a very “unifying” force, because Republicans who don’t support him are of course bigoted, racist, and xenophobic. It’s can’t be about a difference in ideology!
    Unity FTW!


  10. Chris says:


    Republicans that don’t support Obama aren’t necessarily bigoted, racist, and/or xenophobic. Possibly, they’re just incompetent like you. e.g. Hillary Clinton’s middle name is not Rodham – it’s Diane. This said, your explanation regarding why you used Barack’s middle name is flawed. I hope you’re 15 and not a real adult. If so, this world is slightly more screwed than I imagined.

  11. Sofa King says:
  12. Polimom says:


    Good post, although one or two of the comments nearly bury it. But I’m curious (as were some others, apparently) as to why you think Obama will not ultimately have the Democratic nomination. Can you expand on that?

  13. James Joyner says:

    why you think Obama will not ultimately have the Democratic nomination. Can you expand on that?

    She’s got more money and better poll numbers than he does. I expound more in my Obama mania post.

  14. Beldar says:

    Dr. Joyner, your pairing of that photograph with that headline creates … cognitive dissonance, at least for me.

  15. James Joyner says:

    Dr. Joyner, your pairing of that photograph with that headline creates … cognitive dissonance, at least for me.

    Heh. It seemed so … appropriate.

  16. Chris says:


    You’re forgetting those national polls are sooo 2007. A lot has happened since 1/1/2008. The win tomorrow in New Hampshire should have Obama +5/+10 in the next national polls.

    I’m sure Obama’s campaign is making enough money to handsomely stay afloat.

    You don’t truly think Clinton can lose Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina and still win the nomination? It would take some pretty horrible slip up from Obama or his campaign.

  17. Sofa King says:

    Speaking from California, Obama beats Clinton in these parts. I bet he could beat her in New York at this point.

  18. E Howard Bailey says:

    We need to get the word out and expose this man.
    Google “Freedom’s enemies, Barack Hussein Obama”, by Beckwith for the true, amazing facts of this man’s life- with links to back it all up.
    (mostly from his own books)