What Fresh Hell Is This?

December 23, 2007

Jack Kelly Sunday

Has it really only been a week since this?

Sheesh, time flies don't it?

Anyway, there's not much to this week's column by our friend Jack Kelly. He's going through the various political algorithms facing the Republican candidates for President. Though it's a tangled trail. Let's take a look.

He starts off with Mike Huckabee (but note how he treats the former Arkansas Governor - it's very telling for the rest of the column).

The Huckaboom may turn out to be the best thing that's ever happened to former Massachussetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The contest for the GOP nomination for president may well be determined by how frightened other Republicans are by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee

What a subtle deflection! In two short paragraphs, he's succeeded in acknowledging Huckabee's near-frontrunner status AND foretold his possible political demise.

A few paragraphs later we learn from Jack that Huckabee's base is almost entirely the evangelical wing of God's Own Party (what, the evangenicals haven't already absorbed that entire metaphorical bird?). Then we get to what Jack really wants us to know:

His evangelical base has pushed Mike Huckabee to near the front because there are so many other candidates, and so little enthusiasm for them. But the Huckaboom is likely to fade as those charmed by his personality learn more about his policy views and his spotty record as governor.

If the Huckaboom fades, who benefits?

First, let's consider what happens if it doesn't. Most Republicans think Mr. Huckabee would be as bad a president as Jimmy Carter, for essentially the same reasons. So if Mr. Huckabee wins the Iowa caucuses Jan. 3 by a comfortable margin, there will be a rush to rally around the candidate deemed most likely to stop him. Since Rudy Giuliani has been sinking so fast in the polls you'd think he had an anvil on his chest, that figures to be either Mr. Romney or Arizona Sen. John McCain, whoever wins the New Hampshire primary Jan 8.

See? Jack's no fan of Mike Huckabee. He goes through a few scenarios when he settles on who he really likes.

There is another plausible scenario. Suppose Mike Huckabee wins, narrowly, in Iowa, with former Sen. Fred Thompson a close third. Mr. McCain goes on to win, narrowly, in New Hampshire. Mr. Huckabee is alive, but now seems very unlikely to be the nominee. Mr. Romney is on life support, but not dead, because his defeats were so narrow, and his wallet is so big. Mr. McCain is revived, but there is no rush to him because fear of Mr. Huckabee ultimately winning the nomination has diminished. And then there is Fred.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson has been written off because his campaign to date has been, to put it kindly, lackluster. But his political obituary may be as premature as Mr. McCain's.

But all is not lost:

In a campaign marked more by who voters are against than by who they are for, Fred Thompson is a safe choice. His views -- which he articulates well -- offend none of the core constituencies in the GOP. The more Mitt and Huck fight, the better he looks to Iowa voters.

If Mike Huckabee's been the hare in this race, Fred Thompson is the tortoise. In Aesop's fable, it was the tortoise who eventually won.

We'll see if Jack Kelly's political acumen is as sharp as his national security analyses.

Found this on youtube. Hope you like it, Jack!

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