Against my better judgment, mostly to fill in a civic hole in my heart that only bad political TV can fill, I watched part of the Republican CNN/YouTube debate. Some highlights, and musings.
I think I was wrong about Mike Huckabee. Don't get me wrong -- I don't like Mike Huckabee. He's a former Baptist minister who speaks and governs as though I didn't just write the word "former" just now. He raised his hand when, at a previous debate, the moderator asked if anyone on the stage didn't believe in evolution. He's a strict creationist through and through, even giving the "In the beginning" soliloquy during this debate. He supports the kind of legislation that makes it harder for gay people to get together and for married straight people to break up, even if they're the sorts of people who really ought not be together. I don't like him.
What frightens me a little is that the reason I'm lessening my bitterness toward him is probably the same reason many evangelicals are pulled to him. It's pretty obvious that he believes what he says. Of all eight of them up on the stage, Huckabee is the descendant of President Bush quality that won him the elections -- a lot of people looked at him and saw principle, and hubris. Never mind that those character traits can be counterproductive in governing a pluralist democracy. In the light of contrast, that's why the flip-flop attacks worked so well. President Bush was a resolute man of God who believed what he believed, and John Kerry was a career politician who drifted with the wind.
So what do we have here? With Bush nearly out to pasture and Rove long gone, their winning strategy falls to Huckabee, who although he seems more likable than Bush (who wouldn't), he has this sort of Kucinichian air of irrelevance around him, and he won't be taken seriously enough to win the votes. But what I realized is that I'd spent so much time resenting Huckabee for being a fundamentalist Christian that I forgot that that isn't the worst thing in the world. Let me put it this way. Huck, in office, would have to struggle long and hard to change the social policies he wanted. Opposition would come hard and fast on abortion, any gay marriage amendment, what-have-you. His main power would be that sometime soon, Justice John Paul Stevens will retire or die, bless his curmudgeonly liberal heart, and a President Huckabee would nominate another arch-conservative, tipping the scales even further. But compare that to the possibility of President McCain, who turned from war criticizer to the biggest hawk out there -- the surge is working, and we need even more troops to seal the victory. He would be my preferred Republican candidate if not for this one single thing. I believe he even trotted out the old line that public opinion, not the army, lost Vietnam. Iraq isn't Vietnam, but it will be if McCain is elected. In contrast, having to listen to Mike talk about the Bible doesn't seem so bad.
A caveat to my logic, before I move on. I realized while I was dismissing President Huckabee that his power would be no small one at all. The Supreme Court is already gentrified, but another Republican president holds the possibility of cementing a conservative court for years and years. As we get to be middle-aged, we could still be ruled over by the Scalia group and their lingering legal record. Yuck.
With the Bush campaign style falling on probable also-ran Mike, who's at the top? That's right, Rudolph Guliani and Mitt Romney, two greasy city-boy politicians asking for your vote. Guliani, who apparently racked up at least as many personal vices as Bill Clinton, and Romney, who can't seem to make up his mind about anything.
1. What the hell kind of name is Mitt?
1a. How did a Mormon with name like that come to be governor of the Commonwealth?
2. When did grease come back into vogue for the GOP? (Not the musical, though I think Mitt would make a great Danny. He's got the hair.)
Rudy, I thought this evening, is essentially a more powerful and evil Jim Doyle. If you're not familiar with Governor Doyle, he's the benevolent overlord of the great state of Wisconsin, reelected in 2006. I voted for him. I pretty much had to. Governor Jim is dirty in the old-fashioned political machine sort of way. He may or may not give contracts to cronies. People in his office have gone to jail for financial indiscretions. But there are worse things than corruption, such as his 2006 opponent, Rep. Mark Green. He made TV commercials that made him look like a good guy, but deep down he was Mike Huckabee with a mean streak.
That is Rudy, and there's part of me that likes that he's selling himself that way. "I'm not perfect. I've had a handful of wives, and when I lost interest in them I used taxpayers money to philander with mistresses. But I'm tough, oh boy, let me tell you. Have you heard about 9/11? You know, September 11, 2001, when Middle Eastern people attacked us? Yeah, I was there. I let Bush have the spotlight, but really, the whole country leaned on me. Let's do that again."
I have no idea how much to fear a Guliani presidency. He's more socially moderate, but he also wants to bomb Iran. So...yeah.
I have nothing to say about Romney, because I just flat-out hate him. I have nothing to say about Fred Thompson, because frankly there's nothing to say about him, which goes a long way to explaining why he could be nominated.
Lastly, shame on you guys for dodging questions, especially the one from the retired brigadeer general who is gay and asked why they thought the military wasn't professional enough to work with openly gay people. It's in their political interest not to answer; our chides now are temporary, but an embarrassing quote lasts forever. Since all I can do is chide, then, he it is. Fuck you guys. Most Republican positions are at least defensible from some kind of legitimate ideology. Gay right is an exception. Nothing is in your responses (and non-responses) except ugly prejudice. Fifty years from now, when people watch these videos and you appear the way segregationists appear in black-and-white footage today, I'll be there judging you, too. You'll be dead, by the way.