Republicans Love Barack Obama – For Now
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.