Future possible for GOP’s should-be candidate

Poor Mike Huckabee.

When Mitt Romney made his attempt at a graceful exit last week from the race for the Republican presidential nomination, he handed the convention to John McCain. For all his talk of conservative principles, he refused to give the other conservative with a shot at the party’s nod — Huckabee — a chance to derail the McCain train.

The political reality after Super Tuesday was that in order for McCain to lose, Romney or Huckabee would have to drop out. If, once Romney had made up his mind, he had decided to give his delegates to Huckabee and support him on the trail, the combined delegate count and resulting momentum would have had McCain quaking in his boots.

Unfortunately, it’s all speculation — despite Huckabee’s scrappy wins in several Southern states since Feb. 5, McCain is now unstoppable. Some have said it’s mathematically impossible for Huckabee to win the nomination. “Folks, I didn’t major in math,” was his reply. “I majored in miracles.” Divine intervention notwithstanding, once all the pundits and news organizations have called your opponent the presumptive nominee, you’re done.

As any Southern Baptist minister can tell you, God works in mysterious ways. If a mathematical “miracle” is going to take place, it probably won’t have anything to do with the number of delegates required, which is 1,191. Want a much more biblically significant number? Try 72, John McCain’s age on Jan. 20, 2009. (Skeptical? Check Luke 9.57-10.1 for a completely unrelated mention of 72 in the Bible.)

I know I have to be delicate here. I do not in any way want to suggest that it would be miraculous for McCain — a fine American who has served his country loyally his whole life — to kick the bucket while in office. But his age must be taken into consideration. After all, he would become the oldest man to begin a presidency. By comparison, Ronald Reagan, the classic geezer, was a mere stripling at age 69 in 1981. In another example of airtight pre-presidential logic, McCain sometimes brings his mother, Roberta, along on the stump to prove his genetic superiority. (If any citizen dares to question his fitness for office, she no doubt boxes his ears and washes his mouth out with soap.)

The point is that despite McCain’s apparently top-notch breeding and the fact that no sane American would ever want the national tragedy of a sitting president’s death, our wise and benevolent God might decide at any point that President McCain’s maverick ways are needed in heaven instead of on Earth. And that Vice President Huckabee should take over as the leader of the free world.

Whenever TV pundits discuss potential running mates for the front runners, they tend to focus on ticket-balancing. Makes sense: Huckabee has all the conservative credentials McCain lacks. He has executive experience. He has a personality, a sense of humor and great oratorical ability. He can even claim Chuck Norris, Stephen Colbert and Mick Jagger as BFFs. Understandably, the analysts don’t like to admit that the real reason these qualities might make a good vice president is that they would also make a good president. That would imply that we might actually have to think about what would happen if, God forbid, something should happen to the nation’s chief executive.

I believe the vice-presidential candidates should be at least as prepared for and suited to the presidency as their running mates. Although I would pick the Obama-Edwards dream team any day, I can see no better Republican choice than Huckabee.

Here’s why: As a 22-year-old, I have spent my true formative years (high school and college) under a Bush administration. As distasteful as I find many of his policies, decisions and advisers, just as loathsome is his complete lack of rhetorical ability. I am sick of hearing our president struggle to form coherent sentences in response to simple questions and sound like one of the third-graders from “Billy Madison” when giving a speech.

I long for a president for whom giving a fantastic oration is second nature, and who can think and speak inspiringly on his feet (assuming he’s not some crazy fascist). I may not agree with some of Huckabee’s ideas (which is just as well, considering that Congress will likely stay under Democratic control). But the fact that he can argue intelligently without Bush’s irritating and dangerous pretense of dictatorial power makes him an appealing choice.

Regardless of policy differences, a president who can speak like Huckabee will automatically improve our standing in the world and the image of the executive branch, and, more importantly, will inspire a new generation of politicians who will value debate over decrees and thoughtful words over hasty actions.

Jay Buchanan is a senior in Branford College. He is the former editorials editor of the News.


  • JE

    I'm a conservative christian who knows that Huckabee would be an absolute disaster. He should stick to late-night comedy and let someone who's not a rabid populist deal with the politics.

    ps: nice use of the "he can talk good" argument - it's the same vacuous appeal used by Obama supporters.

  • Recent Alum

    This editorial is wrong. Huckabee is not more conservative than McCain, he is just conservative on different issues (i.e., fiscally liberal and socially conservative). It also would not have made sense for Romney endorse a candidate with fewer delegates than he had at the convention. If anything, Huckabee is the one who should be giving his delegates to Romney (as I am fairly certain that the vast majority of Huckabee voters would have preferred Romney to McCain).

  • unitethegop

    The party really won't unite unless McCain picks Romney for VP. WE NEED ROMNEY FOR VP! check out

  • Jay

    @Recent Alum: Just to clarify, *given that* Romney had already decided to exit the race, he should have given his delegates to Huckabee. It doesn't matter that he had more -- just that he was done and Huckabee was not. In addition, the point of Huckabee's being perceived as more conservative than McCain is more a result of his undeniable appeal to right-wing voters, not necessarily that he is more conservative on every issue. Perhaps I've been watching too much CNN…

    @JE: I had hoped the comparison to Bush would put it in perspective. I guess it doesn't work too well if you're a Bush fan. And yes, the argument appears vacuous on its surface, but I think the potential results I list in the last paragraph are anything but. A little optimism never hurt anyone, right? :)

  • Yale '02 Grad

    I can agree with the author's main point that having a well-spoken President would be generally a good thing for America (though I still prefer a President who doesn't speak so well to a President who is an adulterer), but I can't agree with much beyond this.

    The very reason why Romney left the race is so that Republicans would cease to compete with each other and unite behind the frontrunner. Under this reasoning, it would have made no sense for him to give his delegates to Huckabee so that the race would remain competitive; if the race is to remain competitive, then Romney wouldn't have quit in the first place.

    If I had written this editorial, I would have instead emphasized how Romney would have been a better president than McCain or Huckabee. Romney is the only one of the three who is conservative in all three political arenas (fiscal issues, social issues, foreign policy). The conservative establishment was pretty much united behind Romney and they distrust Huckabee as much as McCain. And while it is true that Huckabee is well-spoken and good at delivering one-liners and coming up with good comebacks when people attack him, much of what he says is not that substantive. Romney is equally well-spoken, but he also understands the data and as President would be much more likely to weight both sides of an issue before making a decision.

  • JE

    I'm a conservative who supports Bush the times he manages to actually be conservative.

    More importantly, your opinion piece demonstrates the utter vacuousness of our generation's political comprehension. Well-spoken words are no match for strong ideology. Huckabee & Obama have the former but not the latter. Bush comes close to having the latter. McCain has neither. Clinton has the latter, but the strength of her ideology isn't a particularly good thing.

    Start looking for solutions rather than vapid statements about hope, change, and the American Dream.

  • A.C.

    Speaking well cannot be overrated because it is usually a good measuring stick for a person's intelligence, sophistication and communication skills, all of which are tremendously important qualities.

    Besides, if a person can't articulate an idea with clarity and precision it probably means it's neither too clear nor too precise in his head.

  • AK

    "Regardless of policy differences, a president who can speak like Huckabee will automatically improve our standing in the world and the image of the executive branch"
    As a foreign graduate student, I was a little surprised by this comment. I don't think having a President like Huckabee would do anything for the US's international standing. It surprises me that this is not clear to the writer of the article. Many non Americans are in fact very worried about American policies and their impact on the rest of the world and are therefore probably more concerned about Huckabee's conservative stance than impressed by his oratorical ability.

  • Great ideas need great communicators

    A politician may have great ideas, but if he or she can't express them clearly and persuasively, those ideas have next to no chance of being properly implemented (or even implemented at all).