Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bill CLinton On Why Huckabee is Surging and What NRO is saying

The Corner Blog which is a off shoot of the National Review has been interesting the past couple of days. The National Review is pretty much in the anti-Huckabee camp and thus the Corner blog is also. Though I think we can sense that they are giving Huckabee another look.

I enjoy the Corner even though I have ranted against it before. Sometimes they are a tad too attack dog. Katheryn Lopez for instance in her zeal called Huckabee a Socialist the other day. This was also the same conservative person that was talking in zeal about the "Great Divorce" that conservatives were about to have with Bush after the immigration battles.

As I noted in various emails back then, I thought having a "great divorce" with the sitting Republican President was sort of shortsighted even though I suppose it would have made certain Manhatten Conservative bloggers all giddy writing about it. I love some of the people at the Corner Blog and National Review. Especially Jonah Goldberg who I find the most sensible over there. However I wish they would sometimes take a deep breath breath before hitting the enter button on the computer and think that perhaps there should be some moderation.

I will give them credit. Despite broadcasting the falsehoods that Huckabee is some big Government spender they noted lately that calling Huckabee a hick is sort of out of line and counter productive. They also have noted something that Bill Clinton hit on the other day. From the Corner Blog:
Two Men From Hope [David J. Sanders]
Apparently Bill Clinton is not surprised by Mike Huckabee’s s
He was in Little Rock this weekend where he addressed graduates of the Clinton School of Public Service. Here is what he had to say about the other man from Hope: "If you just listen to him, even though we disagree on a lot of the issues, he gives a good speech, tells a good joke and has a good sense of humor," Clinton said. "That takes you a long way in a place like Iowa.

It's sort of ready-made for him. It's the perfect place for him, so I'm not at all surprised he's doing well."We're from the same little town, and we grew up in a similar culture, although he's younger than I am. ... I grew up in an environment of story-telling, and so did he, and you have to learn to listen to one before you can tell one. I think it's an enormous advantage in modern American politics to be able to tell a story, because people can identify with you," he said.When asked about the possibility of Huckabee vs. Hillary in the general: "Well, it would be interesting," he said. "And the people wouldn't be bored."
12/18 12:51 PM.

Bill perhaps get something there. You have to listen. Perhaps the Huckabee bashers will take note that maybe just maybe Huckabee is hearing something we all should be listening too.

Now before people go all "Well Bill said it so he must want Huckabee" note that Huckabee has beat that Clinton machine several times in Arkansas. I am not sure Huckabee is at the top of their list of wanted opponents.

Yesterday I commented on how Pundits were being a Grinch over the Huckabee "Merry Christmas" ad. That ad prompted a very nice and honest appraisal of Huckabee from the people at the Corner. They are realizing that he is a tad different. Here are a few:

Re: The Christmas wedge ad [Mark Steyn]
Rich, I think you're right: This "Merry Christmas" thing is ingenious. In essence, it's playing the secular media off against his GOP rivals in order to solidify his base. I'm no Huckabee fan but, like Peter, I think he's been amazingly nimble and very sophisticated - as a campaigner, I hasten to add: the policy's another matter.
I wonder what the long-term consequences will be for the GOP. Huckabee turns the conventional wisdom on Republican outreach on its head: Instead of being fiscally conservative and socially "moderate", he's culturally conservative and fiscally populist. But right now he's making these big-money consultant-led rivals look very arthritic

Huckabee: The Story Behind the Christmas Ad [Byron York]
I spoke with Huckabee campaign manager Chip Saltsman last night about the Huckabee Christmas ad that has become the talk of the political world. He told me how it got started – the Huckabee team was looking for a way to acknowledge the awkwardness of a hard-fought political campaign going on at Christmastime, and also trying to figure out how to counter the negative ads they (correctly) believed were coming from the Romney camp. So they came up with a pretty simple idea – wish everybody a Merry Christmas – and Huckabee, sitting in a private home in Little Rock, ad-libbed the ad in two quick takes.Huckabee's performance, and the "celebration of the birth of Christ" appeal to Christian voters, reminded me of something I discussed with him several weeks ago. From the story:

In October, when he addressed the Values Voters summit in Washington, Huckabee gave the most overtly religious speech I have ever seen any candidate give. He didn’t simply say, as other candidates did, that he shared a common Judeo-Christian heritage with the audience. Instead, his speech was filled with Biblical references. He talked about David and Goliath. About Daniel in the lions’ den. About the loaves and the fishes. About Elijah and prophets of Ba’al. It was serious churchgoing stuff.I saw Huckabee a week or so later in Iowa, and I asked him whether the speech was too hot to give before a general audience. He seemed a little surprised by the question. “The ultimate purpose of any speech,” he told me, “is to hit the target, and the target is your audience. I’ve heard people say, ‘Oh that was a brilliant speech, I didn’t understand it, it was way over my head, but it was a brilliant speech.’ Well, it wasn’t a brilliant speech. If a shooter consistently hits over the head of the target, it doesn’t prove that he’s a good shooter. It proves he can’t shoot. So the whole point is you aim for the target. The target in that room was people for whom faith was the motivating factor to be involved in public policy.”
and finally(more in at the Corner and in the archives from yesterday)
It's a Whole New Race [Peter Robinson]
Earlier today I mentioned that I'm of two minds about Huckabee: Dismayed by his attack on Bush in Foreign Affairs, but at the same time willing to admit that, if the good people of Iowa like him, there must be something to the man.
There is.
Trying to figure out what's going on in the Hawkeye state, I spent a few moments just now looking over Huckabee's campaign videos on YouTube. Without exception, they're brilliant—brilliant. In the ads in which he himself appears, Huckabee is engaging, warm, relaxed, and persuasive; the best I can recall since the Gipper himself. And the "surrogate" or "third-party" ads are almost as good. The "Switch to Huckabee" series adopts the lightness and cleverness of recent Apple ads; they're arresting, funny, hip. (That's right. An ad about a Baptist preacher is hip.) And the ad entitled "It's a Whole New Race" manages to be amusing and devastating all at once. Incomparably the finest ad of the season, "It's a Whole New Race" amounts to something a lot like a work of political genius.
Well there is more. Even these comments have "misunderstandings I feel about Huckabee positions and records. However I do take some comfort that the Corner seems to realize that there is something to these man from Hope. And I don't mean Bill Clinton.
Let me end with one most post that deals with the Club of Growth Ads and attacks on Huckabee. Briefly last week I thought Byron York with National Review was actually going in a productive direction. However sadly this post went unheeded. Let me post that in full in full blazing Code alert Red:
The Other Attack on Huckabee [Byron York]
Back from Iowa.Before criticism of Mike Huckabee ventured into what Ross Douthat calls
"Go Back to Dogpatch, You Stupid Hillbilly!" territory, there was the critique, from the Club for Growth, of Huckabee's record in Arkansas on taxes and the economy. I've been meaning to make a note of the degree to which the prominence and the aggressiveness of that critique has come in some significant part from a single adversary of Huckabee's: Jackson "Steve" Stephens, Jr., of the famous Arkansas investment bank family.
It's not at all surprising that officials of the Club would object to parts of Huckabee's record; it would be surprising if they didn't. But the Club has seemed to go after Huckabee with particular relish. I first wondered what was going on in the late summer, a few days before the August 11 Ames, Iowa Straw Poll, when the Club spent about $100,000 to run anti-Huckabee ads in Iowa. At that time, the RealClearPolitics average of polls had Huckabee at three percent in Iowa – 24 points behind Mitt Romney. He was nowhere, with many observers speculating that he would be blown out of the race altogether if, as some expected, Sam Brownback finished ahead of him in the Straw Poll. Yet the Club launched a big, expensive attack on him.
Federal election records show that Stephens contributed $100,000 to Club for Growth.net – the organization that actually put out the ad – on August 1. Stephens is also on the governing board of Club for Growth.net. Stephens declined to comment, but I asked David Keating, who is executive director of the Club, whether Stephens' contribution was intended to finance the ad. He told me the Club "generally has a policy of not earmarking donations," but he also, in another conversation, told me that it would be "reasonable to conclude" that the Stephens donation was used for the Huckabee attack.Last winter, when the Club began to publish assessments of the candidates, the first one it released was on…Mike Huckabee.
At that point, Huckabee was truly nowhere in the polls, in Iowa or anywhere else. Given the relatively higher profiles of other candidates, it seemed odd that the Club would pick Huckabee right out of the box, yet that is what happened. Keating told me there was nothing unusual about it, that it was just the way the timing worked out. "We decided in the second half of January to even do these papers," he told me. "We had heard that Huckabee was going to announce at the end of the month…It was more trying to piggyback on a news event than anything else."Although Stephens would not comment, he did speak to the Arkansas columnist David Sanders, who published a piece Monday here on NRO.
Reading Sanders' account, Stephens appears to be unhappy with Huckabee's failure to implement a number of government-streamlining recommendations Stephens made in the late 1990s. Now, Stephens told Sanders, his "sole purpose is to educate people about Huckabee." And just this week, the Club is running another ad attacking Huckabee, which I saw in Iowa in the last couple of days.All of this is perfectly legitimate. But as I looked at the intensity of the Club's attacks on Huckabee, and contrasted it with the relative quiet of one of the Club's natural allies, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform – who has his problems with Huckabee's record but told me Huckabee is OK with him as long as he abides by the ATR pledge — I wondered what was going on. It's worth knowing.
Indeed it is worth knowing. When will the National Review start researching that question!!!!! I hope as one of the leading conservative voices in the nation it will occur sooner rather than later.


Larry Perrault said...

Does anyone else sense that the manifest anmosity that drives misrepresentation and over-interpretation, is really grounded in a cultural discomfort with Huckabee's unshaded confession and expression of faith?

These people can't really think that Huckabee is a greater threat to fiscal probity than Romney, Giuliani, McCain, and even Thompson. Something smells like there is an unacknowledged factor at work.

Anonymous said...

For anyone saddened by the Catholic League President's response to Mike Huckabee's ad, please -kindly- let them know your opinion.


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James H said...

Larry I agree with to a large extent. This is just so silly. I even heard people say the Christmas balls in the background represent the Trinity

Michael thanks for bringing that Catholic League thing to my attention. Id di not realize they issued a statement till I saw your comment this morning. I am going to take a look at it now