Monday, November 19, 2007

Norris-Huckabee 2008

The reason Mike Huckabee won't become president is the same reason no other "true" conservative can become president: To be considered a "true" conservative, you're actually expected to be "truthful" on policy issues. I put the word "truthful" in quotes because I have no expectations that they'll actually tell the truth, but simply that they'll tell people what being conservative actually means and won't try to dress it up in moderate language.

That's one of the chief rules of conservatism: That a strong majority of Americans are conservative (as well as all "real" Americans) and so there is no absolutely no reason why any politician shouldn't proudly display their conservatism for all to see. I've still seen no good explanation from them on why so many Republican politicians insist on tip-toeing around the whole conservative thing, rather than adopting the whole thing, though I'm sure it has something to do with the liberal media and some sort of conspiracy involving the ACLU.

In fact, most people on the fringes of the ideological spectrum expect their candidates to be unapologetically supportive of their own personal beliefs. The only difference is that most fringe people realize they're on the fringe and don't pretend to have majority support. For example, most Nader people knew they were spoilers, or at least were only supposed to influence Dems to the left, and didn't actually believe Nader would become president. They actually take pride in their ideological purity and don't expect everyone else to agree with them.

Conservatives like the Ron Paul people, on the other hand, have some absurd idea that the 3% support Paul pulls is somehow comparable to the 13% Howard Dean got in 2004, and actually imagine that most Americans would support Paul's platform, if only they saw how fervent Paul's supporters are. As an example of this, please read Pliny's comment at #19 to see the delusional standards of one Paul supporter, who seems to think it's a media conspiracy that got Dean labeled a "front-runner," while Paul continues to be ignored. Somehow, he fails to appreciate that the reason Dean was labeled a "front-runner" was because he was, in fact, in the top of the Dem pack throughout most of 2003, and pulled a strong lead in the month before the primaries, while Ron Paul is still trailing the top two GOP contenders by double-digits. Note to Loon: You have to be a front-runner to be considered a front-runner.

Again, these people are convinced that they represent some sort of majority, despite the fact that the top four leading Republican candidates continue to act like moderates, even among Republican voters. They may repeat Bush's crazy talk on war and torture, but they refuse to go whole hog on the conservative thing.

Fifty Versions of Morality

As an example of Huckabee's campaign-killing conservatism, I submit this article on Huckabee's stance on abortion. In it, he insists that conservatives do not consider abortion to be a state's rights issue, but rather a national issue that will be handled with one law covering the whole country.

As he said on Fox News:
"If morality is the point here, and if it's right or wrong, not just a political question, then you can't have 50 different versions of what's right and what's wrong."

And that just makes sense. Any conservative who insists that Roe v. Wade is a state's rights issue is a lying schmuck Republican who just wants to win elections and doesn't really give a damn about abortion. As Huckabee suggests, it's just like with slavery. If slavery was wrong, it was wrong everywhere, and not just in the places where people thought it was wrong.

And if conservatives can overturn Roe v. Wade, the final step isn't a state-by-state change, it's a national ban inflicted upon everyone. Sure, they might move state-by-state at first, but the eventual goal is a national ban. That just makes sense. Remember, these are people who don't even want us funding abortions in Africa or India, and would surely like a worldwide ban on the practice. And the only people who don't seem to understand that are Republicans who use it as a vote-getting issue, and Democrats who want to steal it from Republicans as a vote-getting issue by giving in to the state-by-state approach.

Of course, Huckabee's logic on this is all wrong. Laws are about aiding society, not about enforcing morality. And if laws were about morality, as he suggests they are, then our federalized system of allowing state and local governments to write their own laws would surely be as wrong as he suggests having fifty different laws on abortion would be. Equally, it would be wrong for each country to have their own laws. So by Huckabee's logic, we should all have a one-world government that enforces the same laws on everyone, based upon Huckabee's vision of morality. And while I'm sure there are too many Christian conservatives who would agree to such a thing, I think if Huckabee actually advocated such a policy he'd be laughed out of politics by the majority of conservatives.

In reality, Huckabee's objection to fifty different abortion laws only applies to this one issue, and even then, would be wildly unpopular. That's the reason why most conservatives focus on the state's rights issue. Sure, a nationwide ban is the only logical position based upon their arguments, but most of them are much too smart to say so. And as long as the Republican leadership needs the issue to get votes, it ain't going to happen.

Chuck Norris for President

That article also had the transcript for a new Huckabee ad featuring his endorsement by the one and only Chuck Norris. Having read it, I honestly thought it was a joke by the reporter who forgot to remove it from his article before publishing it (ala Fox News "accidentally" publishing the fake John Kerry Metrosexual story). But no, Huckabee's ad is real and is so hilarious that I've included the clip of it below.

Of course, it's obvious that it was meant to be funny, but that still doesn't help Huckabee at all, as it really makes him look like a big doofus. This would make sense if he were the guest host on Saturday Night Live, though it's really not quite funny enough for that. But as a real ad from a serious presidential contender, it does nothing but undermine his candidacy and make him look foolish. For as much as I really like the Chuck Norris jokes, it really undermines Norris to be a part of this and makes him look foolish too, which is something I considered so impossible that it again hints at the level of Huckabee's mistake. I wonder if the ass-kicking Bruce Lee gave Chuck had some sort of delaying effect that only hit years later. I suppose that would explain John Derbyshire too.

Despite the theory that all publicity is good publicity, I strongly doubt this ad will help Huckabee in the way he needs it. Which is odd, as I suspect that had it been done seriously, it could have helped him. But as a parody, it only makes both men look foolish. Again, that was clearly intentional, but it still doesn't make it presidential.


A said...

one Paul supporter, who seems to think it's a media conspiracy that got Dean labeled a "front-runner," while Paul continues to be ignored. Somehow, he fails to appreciate that the reason Dean was labeled a "front-runner" was because he was

This baffles me. Even if there was a "media conspiracy" to name Dean the front-runner, it obviously didn't work. Wahhhhh, they're not artificially inflating our numbers and creating false expectations!

A said...

Ah, I think I get it --

It strikes me that Paul's supporters misunderstand just how much expectations predetermine performance; I can't see any other rationale for flooding online polls to generate numbers that aren't just distorted but patently ridiculous.

I mean, at the end of the day, if every online poll in the world says that 90% of the electorate supports Paul, and 3% actually vote for him, Paul gets 3% of the vote and loses. If the media anoints him as a top-tier candidate but he has the support base of a third-tier candidate, Paul loses. You win by getting votes, not by arguing on blogs.

Even more bizarre is that these weird screeds don't make a consistent differentiation between public perceptions, shaping of public perceptions, actual results, or indeed reality at all.

The only explanation I've come up with is that the whole Paul weirdness is a result of a collective reductio ad absurdum of the Dean internet hype ("Dean is using the internet in novel ways to generate grassroots something something" etc.) -- but in this case, the "online movement" isn't a driver of the candidacy, it is the candidacy. It's a simulacra campaign.