Rich Lowry….  who I have some stout dispute on in terms of the Fair Tax issue (It’d help if Rich actually did some research on the matter) gets it pretty much spot on here, as regards the rise of social conservatives:
Remember how evangelicals had “matured”? Remember how the war on terror had replaced social issues? It shouldn’t be hard, since all those things were being said a couple of weeks ago (heck, still being said maybe even a few days ago). Part of what seems to be going on with the Huckabee surge is evangelicals sticking their thumbs in the eyes of the chattering classâ€”we’re still here, we still matter, and we still care about our signature issues. Remember the lack of excitement in the Republican race, especially among dispirited social conservatives? Well, now there is some excitement, and it isn’t over free market economics or the war on terror, but a candidate who doesn’t speak compellingly about either of those things but instead about social issues. As a friend I was talking to a little earlier points out, the most important moment of the campaign so far came when a social conservative excited a social conservative audienceâ€”Huckabee with his “I come from you” speech at the “values summit.”
Maybe, Rich, but I’d be a whole lot happier about it if the social conservatives that have floated up to the top of this brew were not so abysmal on other matters… such has limited government, terrorism, foreign policy and so on. Huckabee is certainly lacking is most of these, and so too, frankly is Romney. Those two, along with Ron Paul, demonstrate the frailty of candidates with such a narrow focus. They bring some good ideas to the table, but taken as a whole, (even including their strong points within that narrow focus) they’re downright pathetic.
As are, it should be pointed out, the people backing them. These are voters whose issues have been largely ignored for 30 years, and are now being energized by someone paying attention to them at last…. to the point where they’re willing to put up with about anything to get that issue addressed.
Personally, I’m not so far gone in my desire for limited government, that I’m going to support a Ron Paul, with all the baggage he represents. Nor am I, in the name of social conservatism, going to support a man who, his denials not withstanding, had a large hand in releasing the killer of Carol Sue Shields from prison. Huckabee’s professed ideas about social conservative ideas seem to lack in their application, particularly in that case. And don’t even start with me on his foreign policy creds… (“What’s an NIE Report?”… !!DOINK!!!!) Etc., Etc., Etc.
Now, Fred Thompson would seem to have a bit better balance across all those issues, which is why he gained our support early on. But there’s going to need to be a rather large swing for that to happen.
The Democrats, too, have noted the trend, and have reacted to it, with typical hazy mumbling on the subject, and with a lack of understanding that gets revealed every time they run into someone in the press who actually knows the Bible and presses them on an issue or two. But they talk a good game about how important religion is to them, of late don’t they? And look at Dionne’s new book..  where he basically argues that the left should start to capitalize on those issues… which is a little hard to do given how they’ve taken themselves out of the social mainstream with ther pro-abortion positions. Rather hard to mesh the crowd Dionne would have the left courting, and the positions they’ve spent the last 30 years promoting.
Barring their being able to do that, it comes down to Rudy Giulliani and his ability to sell himself on the points his current competition seems to have a corner on…. and frankly I’m not convinced he can do it.