As unsuccessful presidential candidates go, Mike Huckabee has done a fine job of keeping himself in the spotlight. He’s a Fox News contributor; he
June 23, 2008

As unsuccessful presidential candidates go, Mike Huckabee has done a fine job of keeping himself in the spotlight. He’s a Fox News contributor; he’s formed a new political vehicle for himself; he raised a few eyebrows with his bashing of Libertarians; and he even defended Barack Obama once his former pastor starting drawing media attention.

And now, Huckabee’s a blogger — with some advice for his party on how to approach the general election.

What I am saying is that we need to challenge Obama on the basis that his ideas are the wrong ones — not attacking him personally. If people spend their time repeating a bunch of internet driven drivel about his middle name (he didn’t choose his anymore than I chose mine), or his race (I do sincerely celebrate that our country has moved to a place where a person’s race doesn’t limit him from aspiring to the highest office in our land, but I just believe that due to his proposals and lack of substantive experience, he’s gone far enough — not because of his race, but because of his sincere, but misguided proposals), or his church (there are far more important reasons for us to elect Senator McCain than where Obama went to church).

Politics ought to be VERTICAL and Obama’s ideas will not take this country UP, but DOWN. I think he is a sincere and obviously a very intelligent and charismatic person. For us to deny that is foolish. Our focus should be to logically and systematically explain why ideas really do matter and why some are bad for those struggling as it is to pay the rent.

I have to admit, all of this sounds quite nice. Huckabee thinks Obama’s just wrong. That’s fine; given Huckabee’s ideology, he’s supposed to think Obama’s wrong. Huckabee doesn’t much seem to care about identity politics and nonsensical email chains. He thinks Republicans are offering one set of ideas, Democrats are offering another set of ideas, and Republicans’ pitch is superior. That, and nothing else, is what matters.

I find all of this quite endearing, even though I’m certain there’s no way on earth Republicans will follow Huckabee’s advice.

The problem isn’t that Republicans are somehow evil, malicious people who enjoy character assassination for sport. There may be some who fall into this category, but not many.

Rather, Huckabee’s notion of a pure battle of ideas/agendas won’t work because voters … how do I put this gently … don’t like Republican ideas right now. GOP attack dogs need “character assassination with half truths, innuendoes, and disputable ‘internet facts’” because the polls are telling them that without these tactics, Republicans don’t stand much of a chance.

If, to borrow, Huckabee’s example, someone is struggling to pay the rent, that person is probably not going to be drawn to the candidate who wants tax cuts for millionaires, has rejected increases to the minimum wage, and has an awful healthcare policy. That same voter, however, may hesitate if they think the better candidate was trained at a madrassa and shouldn’t be trusted because of his middle name and lack of flag lapel pins.

I’d be absolutely thrilled if Obama’s detractors decided there was no need to attack him personally. But they realize — and I suspect they’re right — that if this election is about the issues, Obama’s going to win.

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