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.