December 13, 2008 - December 6, 2008
Friday, January 04, 2008
Thanks, Iowa. Now we know what you
want -- a wholesale flight from reality into the promised land of
pious, empty rhetoric. And I'm not talking just about Huckabee. He may
thump the Bible more than Obama, but they're both interpreting the term
"bully pulpit" as literally as the Hawkeyes interpret the Book of
Genesis. Here are the two victory speeches. As you listen, close your
eyes and try to decide which one would make us sicker of his
preachifying over four or eight years.
I call it a toss-up. It entirely depends on whether you're more
nauseated by smarmy, self-satisfied religiosity or dreary incantational
delivered in tent-revival dialect.
If that's really what you want, fine. Go for it. But shouldn't there be
platitudes about hope and change and a new day in America? For example,
I'd feel a lot better about both these gents if they'd demonstrated a
particle of knowledge about a country that didn't even exist when the
boilerplate in their stump sermons received its first halleluiahs
from a Sunday congregation. Maybe that's why Huckabee doesn't know that
Pakistan lies to the east
Afghanistan. And maybe that's why Obama thinks Bush was stupid to
invade Iraq (pop. 27 million) instead of Pakistan (pop. 150
million), 40 percent of
whom admire Osama bin Laden, to win the war on terror without needless
loss of life. (I admit there's no explaining why Hillary Clinton knows nothing
about the current political situation in Pakistan, but
that's a different kettle of fish.)
I understand the yearning of many Americans to return to a simpler
time, before 9/11 and all the unseemly ruckus it has caused, but let's
not go all the way back to 1860, or even 1960. Please.
That old-time religion is a hymn, not a political platform. If we
forget that, the time we're really going to return to is the
administration of Jimmy Carter. Which, if memory serves, didn't result
in too many hosannas.
A RENAISSANCE OF BELIEF
This is a reality check for all you earnest Huckabee supporters. You
may think you're striking a blow for the religious right by flocking to
his banner, but that deep, consuming impetus you're feeling is not so
much the victorious charge of crusaders as the mob lunacy of lemmings.
If you succeed in nominating Huckabee, you will be putting the sword to
your own political influence in this country for the remainder of your
lifetimes. I kid you not.
I'm going to tell you the things no one else is willing to say. The
Democrats won't say them because the Huck-a-Boom is, to them, an
orgasmically delicious confirmation of all the worst things they have
ever thought about you, and they will be ecstatically pleased to watch
you destroy yourselves in his behalf. The Republicans -- even the
staunchest conservatives who have supported your causes in the past --
won't say them because they don't want what the liberals think about
you to be accurate, and they are deathly afraid that it is. Their
rapidly fading hope is that you'll come to your senses before the awful
truth has to be dumped on your heads like a 55-gallon drum of ice-cold
gatorade. In short, they're afraid of pissing you off. But I don't want
the liberals to win, and I don't care if I hurt your feelings. Because
you're being dopes.
There are only two possibilities about who Mike Huckabee is. The first
is that he's a sincere evangelical Christian who regards the world in
the simple terms he says he does. The second is that he's a cunning
politician who was born and raised among people of faith like you and
has learned how to exploit your faith to advance his own career. Both
of these possibilities are disasters waiting to happen.
If he's the good-hearted preacher who just happened to become governor
of Arkansas by an accident of circumstance rather than calculated
ambition, he's in way over his head. For example, when Huckabee claimed
he was receiving foreign policy advice from John Bolton, he was either
misrepresenting the facts or being absurdly naive. No matter how good
he is at heart, the United States and the world at large can't afford a
president who thinks he is learning foreign policy via email
And to the extent that you are willing to overlook this kind of
blunder, you are telling the 70 percent of your fellow citizens who
don't believe a literal interpretation of the Bible is the best
credential for political leadership that your powers of judgment are
nil. Huckabee the Preacher will be mocked and ridiculed and manipulated
into the worst electoral disaster in the history of the Republican
Party. Have you learned nothing about Democrats? They will be absolutely
ruthless about making him indistinguishable in every way from Gomer
On the other hand, Huckabee might be an absolutely ruthless politician
himself, a nominally Republican version of that other successful
Arkansas governor, Bill Clinton. If he is, he could actually succeed in
winning the presidency. Is this your secret hope, that he is some kind
of combination Machiavellian-Christian, venal enough to do the job and
yet moral enough to do it right? Forget it. That's a one-in-a-billion
shot. If he has the ambition and spine to be a strong president, he is
far more likely to be a Huey Long than an Abraham Lincoln -- corrupt,
vindictive, hypocritical, power-mad, and criminally sly rather than
intelligent. And, by the way, what are the charges that continue to
attach to Huck's governorship? Corrupt, vindictive, personally greedy, tax-happy and...
uh, weak on crime and immigration. Because the other likely version of
a Machiavellian-Christian politician is Jimmy Carter. A weak,
small-minded micro-manager whose insecurities and self-righteous conceits do
appalling harm in the name of good.
But a Carter-like Huckabee will be far worse for the country than even Carter was. The
insatiable destruction machine that is the Democratic Party will not be
there to conceal and explain away his incompetencies, but to highlight
them and pin them on the ignorant, reactionary yokels who brought him
to power in the first place. If you think the left hates Bush, wait
till the president is a graduate of a Baptist Bible college instead of
Yale and Harvard.
By the end of a mercifully one-term Huckabee presidency, you will be
lucky if all the more fundamentalist flavors of Christianity haven't
been outlawed as completely as the American Communist Party. And worse
than that will be the laughter, which will echo in your ears, and those
of your children and their children, for all that remains of American
history. Worst of all, conservatism itself will be stone cold dead as a
political force in this country.
My final point is that mine is not
an extreme view. Every conservative who does not share your exact
religious viewpoint feels the same way about this that I do. The only
difference between me and the east-coast conservative pundits who opine
on Fox News and other mass media outlets is that they don't believe
really go through with such a totally self-destructive campaign -- and
I do believe it.
Know this, though. If you do, we will never forgive you. And the
country will, most likely, never recover.
Bottom Line: Mike Huckabee is a joke. Whether he turns out to be a
funny joke like Governor Gatling or a deadly joke like Huey Long is
largely in your hands. Try not to blow it.
Pressing the Point.
pretty. But 72 is the new 68.
. We earned massive uninterest when we reluctantly endorsed
McCain for the presidency last month. But given our record of being
right about (almost
everything, it seemed we should share this blog
entry from a genuine New
who got to meet most of the candidates. Maybe
he's as much of an idiot as Instapunk, but, well, here you go:
When I head into the voting booth
Tuesday, I will be casting my vote for John McCain. If, a year or so
back, you had told me that that's what I would be doing come primary
day, I would have politely told you that you're nuts -- there's no way I
could vote for the "maverick" Arizona Senator. So what has happened?
How could I possibly be supporting somebody that gets regularly panned
by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and others that I respect on the right?
The answer is easy: the New Hampshire primary process. Because the
hallmark of our state's unique position as the kickoff for the
presidential races is retail politicking, we get to see most of the
candidates up close and personal -- if we choose to do so, which I have...
[T]hanks to my online activities here at GraniteGrok.com, my weekly
column in the Laconia Daily Sun, and the Saturday morning radio
program, I have had additional opportunities to interact with several
of the candidates and their closest advisors on a very personal
level... [O]ne hopeful stands out from the rest: John McCain. I can
attest that this is a man who doesn't pre-screen the questions that
come his way and is ready to take on all comers.
While I like Rudy Giuliani, my second choice in this cycle, he just
doesn't hold a candle to the Senator when it comes to having the
ability (desire?) to answer standard questions from the regular folks
outside of the town meeting atmosphere. In one instance, when walking
beside me towards his campaign bus, the Mayor refused to answer a
simple question about the trash-to-energy industry -- quite expansive in
New York State -- telling me that he "simply cannot walk and answer
substantive questions." I was then politely sidetracked by one of his
handlers. Needless to say, as I was feeling rather disposed to vote for
him at the time, I was taken aback by this brush off. Don't get me
wrong, I wasn't trying to pull a "do you know who I am" moment or
anything like that, but his local NH people actually DO know who I
am -- and knew me to be favorable to Hizzoner at the time.
McCain and his people are completely opposite in this regard -- and not
just for the likes of me. At every town hall meeting that I have
attended, the campaign staffers have had to practically drag their man
kicking into the bus in order to make the next stop in a timely manner.
The problem? He is so comfortable with his beliefs, opinions, and
thoughts, that when he engages the folks, he actually communicates with
them for real. When you have nothing to hide, and you are up front with
your core beliefs and ideals, there is no "trick question" one might
come up with that can't be answered.
In addition to his connectivity with the people, there are the issues
Many Republicans believe that their nominee must stand opposed to
abortion. There is no ambiguity here. Senator McCain definitely fits
the bill on this one. For people like me, the new world war with the
Islamo-fascists trumps all else. I believe that the path to victory
starts with the front in Iraq. Nobody has been a stronger advocate for
finishing the job than John McCain. And while you might be able to
fathom his knowledge of the military and governmental players from
about the globe from bits and pieces you catch at public appearances
and on TV, I can assure you that you have only scratched the surface.
Several months back, I had the chance to take a ride on the Straight
Talk Express, where I ate chicken wings with this genuine American
hero. We had nearly an hour of conversation about a variety of things,
including some details about military strategies and the realities on
the ground in Iraq. I cannot stress enough how impressed I was with his
understanding and awareness of these matters. Add to that his personal
experience in Viet Nam, and you get a person with insight from the
perspective of the soldiers that must fight wars as well. This is a man
that will be ready to be Commander-in-Chief on day one. Beyond that, I
have participated in a number of "Blogger Conference Calls" with the
Senator. Given the wild-west nature of the blogging community, these
were no-holds barred exchanges where, again, the sense of his awareness
on a variety of matters both great and small was always plainly in
"But Doug, what about illegal immigration?" I am confident that McCain
"gets it" when it comes to this one. At a town hall meeting in
Wolfeboro just after the defeat of the so-called "comprehensive"
immigration bill, he duly noted that Americans had spoken and want the
borders verifiably sealed before anything else gets done in this area.
It is the rare politician that acknowledges being wrong on a matter,
and recognizes the collective voice of regular people.
Beyond all that, I think it's imperative that the Democrats are
prevented from gaining the presidency during this moment in time.
McCain still carries great appeal among Independents and even a fair
number of Democrats. In a phone conversation with a prominent local
Democratic leader this past Monday, he admitted to me that if McCain
were to end up as the president, he would be OK with that. The
president must stand ready to be the leader of ALL Americans, not just
members of one party or the other. It is a good bet that McCain has the
ability to attract enough votes to win it all for the GOP next
November. If our Democrat friends admit this possibility as being one
they can live with, then perhaps we can at least throttle back some of
the bitterness that has gripped our Nation since the 1992 election.
That's a notion I'm sure we can all agree with...
By all means, take a good, long, close look at his blog. I'm not sure
that those who dislike McCain can ever warm up to him. I suspect it's a
generational thing (which is not good). I
don't have to like him to
respect him -- or to accept that even in person we might not like each
other -- while acknowledging that of all the people in the race, he's
the one I'd reluctantly, finally, and ultimately willingly
trust to negotiate the
dangerous rapids we face. But then I grew up with a bunch of those old
intransigent WWII bastards. I'm used to rigid and choleric old men. I
know they frequently understand more than they let on. Then they tell
you the truth as they see it, which you can sometimes come to terms
sometimes not. But at least the lines are clearly drawn. I don't expect
others to feel the same way. Honestly. But I'm thinking it might be
time for an irascible old man to deal with the vicious untrained pups
of the New Age, whether they're Putin, Ahdumjihad, Assad, Ban Ki Moon,
Kim Jong Il, Pinyin, Osama bin Laden, or divers Euro-Weeny chihuahuas.
I also think I've figured out his real position on torture. If it has
to be done, the President should do it himself. (He's guested on 24
. How does that
compute with his supposed
squeamishness?) It's an old guy thing.
I know Fred is old too. But seeing him lay down the law in Die Hard 2
doesn't quite give me
that same feeling. Sorry.