Of Hucksters, Hooligans and Huckabee

Gosh, I'm sure happy now that the Netroots and the Democrats successfully sunk the Fox News presidential debate a few months back.

I thought it was a really dumb idea to do so at the time. But now, much like Mitt Romney, I've changed my mind.

In retrospect, it seems self-evident there's no way the crumb-bums at Fox could have carried off any such debate with, um, the dignity, the gravitas, and the respect for the viewers demonstrated by the venerable CNN in its handling of Wednesday's You (boob)Tube GOP debate.

I mean, if Fox had organized this you can just imagine what would have happened. We would have seen videos of questions from gun freaks tossing loaded weapons around, and from those demanding to know if the Bible was the literal and revealed Word of God, how long women should be jailed for having abortions, what are the most effective forms of human torture, and -- last not but least-- how much does each candidate really love the Confederate Flag!

Oops, say what? That's what you saw on CNN? Sorry... Oh well.

To be honest, I didn't catch the entire "debate." And I if were just about any of those guys up on stage, I'd have to hope that not too many others saw it either. I understand fully they are competing for the loyalty of the Republican base, but they seem so out of synch with the national mood that it's almost painful.

Who can believe that there could by more than 1/4 of the electorate, if that, who today cares to hear you detail what's in your personal gun collection, or how literal you think the Bible is and and whether you'd ban abortion on a federal or just a state level? I don't know nor do I care very much who "won" the debate -- but you've got to figure that whoever the nominee winds up being he must have at least temporarily lost 2-3% of the general election voters who had mistakenly or otherwise tuned in.

The most excruciating moments I caught? I think top prize goes to military cultist Duncan Hunter who argued that gays in the armed forces would offend the cultural sensibilities of the "mostly conservative" young people who enlist. What a hooligan. I suppose serving young negroes Cokes at the Woolworth counter in 1950 would have also been culturally offensive to a lot of folks in Mississippi - but that wouldn't have made it legal, justifiable or humane. The other worst moments? Anytime Mitt Romney was on camera. A full-time cynical huckster who can barely keep track of his own rampant opportunism. Or maybe it was the time visitin' with Good Old Uncle Fred Thompson who -- apparently-- doesn't know much about, well, anything.

Meanwhile, comes news that Mike "The Revealed Word of God" Huckabee is now leading the GOP pack in Iowa. Absolutely no surprise to me, thank you. I predicted a meteoric rise for him back in mid-summer when I saw him out at the Iowa Straw Poll. And it's not just that Huckabee is bona fide social conservative that makes him appealing to the Republican base. He has definite cross-over appeal, projecting a Compassionate Conservatism that GW Bush talked about but never demonstrated.

Save your energy and don't even think about slamming me for being soft on Huckabee. I'm merely recognizing and trying to explain his appeal. He radiates a core decency that seems to be lacking from every other of his rivals and it's starting to pay off for him big time.