(Lyon, France, Jan. 4) Hold everything. What’s all this I hear and read about Mike Huckabee’s brand of economic populism coming out on top in last night’s Iowa caucuses, as I raid the Internet for political news? Huckabee is said to have “won” with 34% of the vote. Well done, and I would hate to sound like a party pooper, but let me ask this: What about the 66% of GOP caucus-goers who did not vote for what David J. Sanders aptly describes on today’s OpinionJournal web page as Huckabee’s religious-left, big-government agenda based on “increasing the government’s role in the fight against global warming, poverty and economic inequality”?
Call me naïve or insufficiently versed in the intricacies of Republican primary politics, but looking at last night’s results, I would make one further comment:
However flawed the GOP's two most prominent spokesmen (Romney and Thompson) might be this year in terms of authenticity and “fire in the belly”, three-legged-stool conservatism combining defense hawks, free-market proponents, and moral traditionalists is still very much up and running -- having collectively prevailed in Iowa with at least 38% of the ballots cast (or 51% if you count McCain's near-tie with Thompson).
Huckabee campaign advisor Ed Rollins and David Brooks of the New York Times might be self-servingly shouting it from the rooftops -- but the demise of the Reagan coalition has thankfully not occurred yet, if ever in the foreseeable future.
Message matters more than money indeed, but only modern conservatism, not apocryphal economic conservative tongue-speaking, can still deliver it. How much longer will we have to wait for an authentically fire-eating conservative to step up and take the good news to Iowa, New Hampshire and elsewhere in these indispensable United States? Eight years?
Note: “Paoli” is the pen name, er, nom de plume, of our French correspondent. Monsieur is a close student of European politics, a onetime exchange student in Colorado and a well-wisher to us Americans. He informs us the original Pasquale Paoli, 1725-1807, was the George Washington of Corsica.