Momma always did have a way of explaining things so I could understand them.
- Forrest Gump
Well, Momma probably read a lot of George Will. Today in "The Problem With Populists", as he so often does, Will makes sense of the muddle both parties find themselves in currently with the the primary season moving into full swing. What caught my attention right off the bat was his analysis of the Huckabee effect, which Ron has frequently written about.
Like Job after losing his camels and acquiring boils, the conservative movement is in distress. Mike Huckabee shreds the compact that has held the movement's two tendencies in sometimes uneasy equipoise. Social conservatives, many of whom share Huckabee's desire to "take back this nation for Christ," have collaborated with limited-government, market-oriented, capitalism-defending conservatives who want to take back the nation for James Madison. Under the doctrine that conservatives call "fusion," each faction has respected the other's agenda. Huckabee aggressively repudiates the Madisonians.
The Reagan Coalition is on its knees and seemingly heading for the canvass. But George Will isn't the type to play the party line and shy away from it. He is an old school Madisonian with little use for neocon aggression or theocon Christian Coalition demands. (If you happen to be of a more liberal persuasion and avoid George Will because you think of him as a cookie cutter conservative Republican, you really should give him another chance.)
Moving on in this column, Will spends some time flogging the economic populism of Edwards and Huckabee. (This morning on ABC, George Will called Edwards "today's Trotsky") He then gets down to the business of sorting out some of the other frontrunners, starting off by going back to the Huckster.
Huckabee says "only one explanation" fits his Iowa success "and it's not a human one. It's the same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a crowd of 5,000 people." God so loves Huckabee's politics that He worked a Midwest miracle on his behalf? Should someone so delusional control nuclear weapons?
If you read Ron's posts here regularly, I don't think I need to expand on that one. But George Will also has some words on the new Democratic frontrunner, Barack Obama. As a conservative Republican, he's probably about to tear him apart, right? Not so fast there, skippy.
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.
Watching Will on ABC's morning chat festival was a good follow-up to reading this column. He sees not much of a change in the Northeast from 2004 when John Kerry took "every single electoral vote in New England" but is looking at Obama's swelling "Ophah surge"below the Mason Dixon line. His take on this was short and to the point.
"The Republicans don't have a Southern Strategy this year. They have a Northern Problem."
To risk sounding like Instapundit for a moment.... indeed.