I think you are mostly right, Jim. But that says something bad about a number of Huck’s backers. I was utterly amazed at how quick they were to assume that the known and respected conservatives who were opposing Huck were doing so not for the many reasons they actually gave — using facts, logic, etc. — but because of some sort of bias against Evangelicals or other conservative Christians.
Seriously, their response of victimization when they weren’t even being discriminated against came across very much like Sharpton does when he is race hustling — i.e., claiming victimhood and racism when whatever Sharpton is complaining about has nothing to do with race and there are no victims. (I hasten to add that of course there is racism in the world, and of course there is bigotry against Evangelicals — but the problem arises when the sometimes victimized class claims victimhood even when there is no bias or bigotry at all.)
So we say: Huckabee is unethical, and here are the supporting facts. They (including the otherwise esteemed George Neumayr) answer: You hate Evangelicals. We say: Huck has no clue what he is talking about on foreign policy, and what he does say on it is wrongheaded. They answer: You hate Evangelicals. And so on. The “identity politics” that Huck promoted is exactly what causes this us-against-them mentality, a mentality that is very dangerous when there really is no “them” that dislikes the “us.” It is divisive, not unifying, to promote such an identity politics, and Huck did so in a particularly demagogic way. (Class warfare; Mormons think Satan and Jesus are brothers; etc.)
I bow to nobody in this world when it comes to defending Christian conservatives against anti-Christian bigotry. I have written many columns through the years doing just that, while excoriating the Establishment Media for belittling the Christian Right. But, see, when I did so, I cited actual facts, actual examples, of explicitly anti-religious passages in published Establishment Media outlets. Now here I find myself accused repeatedly of just having some bias against Evangelicals, without a single shred of evidence provided… merely because I criticized Huckabee on issues having NOTHING to do with his faith.
All of that said, James made another point as if it were a problem: That opposition to Huck played into McCain’s hands in South Carolina, and that we therefore made a mistake if we also are against McCain. To which I say: Even if I oppose McCain, I would take McCain over Huckabee any day of the week. Why? Because I trust him to understand the nature of the terrorist threat, and to ensure a strong defense, and, domestically, to fight pork. I trust Huck on none of those things. So, in that sense, the outcome in South Carolina was a good one. There is still plenty of time for anti-McCainiacs to block McCain….