Mr. Huckabee finally sat next to Mr. Romney at the Fox News forum for Republican presidential candidates and there were exchanges between the two of them that assured that Mr. Huckabee won't be one of the top two in the New Hampshire Republican primary.
Mike Huckabee is not yet gone, but Mitt Romney is coming on.
Peggy Noonan expertly explained Mr. Huckabee's Iowa success: "[H]e's an ace entertainer with a warm, witty and compelling persona. He won with no money and little formal organization, with an evangelical network, with a folksy manner, and with the best guileless pose in modern politics."
Put otherwise, Mr. Huckabee won the Iowa primary by being a popular poser with a plurality of the Republican caucus-goers, not by being presidential.
Like Democrat Barack Obama, Mr. Huckabee simply is not up to the job ambition makes him seek. On foreign policy, he's dangerously weak. Unfortunately, he's proud instead of meek.
Far too many Iowa Republican caucus-goers were fooled by or winked at Mr. Huckabee's political ploys, especially his Iowa caucus-eve trick: making an attack ad and then posing as too good to broadcast (and pay for) it (and instead to have the media broadcast it for him for free).
As Ms. Noonan duly noted, Mr. Huckabee played the media masterfully: "Everyone said Mike Huckabee was a big dope to leave Iowa Wednesday to fly to L.A. to be on Jay Leno, but did you see him on that thing? He got off a perfect line on why he's doing well against Romney: 'People are looking for a presidential candidate who reminds them more of the guy they work with rather than the guy that laid them off.' The studio audience loved him. And you know, in Iowa they watch 'The Tonight Show' too."
Of course, the friendly Mr. Leno was a big help to Mr. Huckabee.
Things changed after Iowa, however.
First, Mr. Huckabee did not win a single delegate in the Wyoming Republican caucuses won by Mr. Romney (with Fred Thompson second).
Then it got worse: Mr. Huckabee finally sat next to Mr. Romney at the Fox News forum for Republican presidential candidates and there were exchanges between the two of them that assured that Mr. Huckabee won't be one of the top two in the New Hampshire Republican primary.
Russell Berman, a New York Sun staff reporter, opened his January 7, 2008 article on the forum ("Romney Goes on Attack Against Huckabee"), with a somewhat grudging acknowledgement of Mr. Romney's tour de force performance: "Mitt Romney's strategy of targeting his Republican rivals may have finally succeeded in ruffling at least one, Michael Huckabee."
Mr. Romney did much more than ruffle; he revealed the real Mr. Huckabee.
"Mr. Romney jumped right out of the gate at a GOP debate last night...and...accused the usually quick-witted Mr. Huckabee in particular of dodging the truth.
"'You make up facts faster than you talk, and that's saying something,' Mr. Romney told Mr. Huckabee as they sat side-by-side in a Fox News forum."
Mr. Romney did more than make that accusation. He proved it.
"The two were debating their respective records as governors, in which they have repeatedly tried to fend off the criticism that they resorted to tax hikes to close budget gaps and fund new spending.
"Mr. Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, appeared uncomfortable in the intimate and free-wheeling format that Fox set up last night. He and Mr. Romney, who served as governor of Massachusetts, were seated literally elbow-to-elbow at the center of a table, and Mr. Romney used the arrangement to needle Mr. Huckabee on the issues, asking him direct questions that proved impossible to ignore."
Mr. Romney not only proved himself to be the much better debater, but pressed important questions that revealed Mr. Huckabee's problem admitting the truth, not a good trait in a president.
Mr. Huckabee was trying to have it both ways: treating fees as taxes, which they are not, and not admitting that he had raised taxes in Arkansas significantly during his time as governor.
Ironically, what was much worse was not the raising of taxes, but avoiding the admission.
"At the outset, Mr. Romney tried three times to get Mr. Huckabee to admit that although he both raised and lowered various taxes in Arkansas, the result was a net increase of about $500 million. 'Now, I asked you a question to begin with. And that was, net-net, did you raise taxes in your state by half a billion dollars?' Mr. Romney asked. Mr. Huckabee tried to deflect the question. 'We raised jobs. We built roads,' he began, before Mr. Romney cut him off: 'You know, that's political speak.'"
Not what should be expected of a self-described
Whether it was taxes, or immigration, or pardons, Mr. Huckabee had an aversion to the whole truth.
"Mr. Romney tried the same tactic later in the debate when the topic turned to immigration. Mr. Huckabee has defended his support as governor of giving in-state college tuition breaks to the children of illegal immigrants, saying children should not be punished for the crimes of their parents. But he has proposed an immigration plan as a candidate that would require all illegal immigrants to return to their home country before applying for legal status or face deportation, meaning those same children could be forced to separate from their parents or leave America.
"'How about the kids in school, them, too, or not?' Mr. Romney asked him, nudging his arm.
"Mr. Huckabee tried again to ignore him. 'Mitt, I'm talking to Chris right now, if you don't mind,' he responded, referring to the moderator, Christopher Wallace.
"Mr. Wallace chose to ask him the same question, and Mr. Huckabee said most parents would not leave without their children, with the possible exception of high school seniors who might be old enough to fend for themselves."
Mr. Romney was doing what the forum encouraged, his question was fair, and Mr. Huckabee's futile attempt to avoid it was foolish.
Mr. Berman: "For Mr. Huckabee, the exchanges were rare moments of awkwardness and discomfort for a candidate who has thrived on his folksy appeal and good humor."
America needs a Commander-in-Chief, not a Pastor-in-Chief, or a Comic-in-Chief, or a Poser-in-Chief.
Ms. Noonan is absolutely right about Mr. Huckabee's guileless pose: "Mr. Huckabee likes to head-fake people into thinking he's Gomer Pyle, but he's more like the barefoot boy of the green room. He's more James Carville than Jim Nabors."
Ms. Noonan is also right about Mr. Huckabee's supporters deserving better.
They deserve much better.
"They believe that Mr. Huckabee, the minister who speaks their language, shares, down to the bone, their anxieties, concerns and beliefs. They fear that the other Republican candidates are caught up in a million smaller issues--taxing, spending, the global economy, Sunnis and Shia--and missing the central issue: again, our culture. They are populists who vote Republican, and as I have read their letters, I have felt nothing but respect.
"But there are two problems. One is that while the presidency, as an office, can actually make real changes in the areas of economic and foreign policy, the federal government has a limited ability to change the culture of America. That is something conservatives used to know. Second, I'm sorry to say it is my sense that Mr. Huckabee is not so much leading a movement as riding a wave. One senses he brilliantly discerned and pursued an underserved part of the voting demographic, and went for it. Clever fellow. To me, the tipoff was 'Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?'
"My sense is that Mr. Huckabee's good supporters deserve a better leader."
They definitely do! They deserve a candidate who believes in God and family and America and will promote their shared values, not a fellow whose folksy performance calls to mind Sinclair Lewis's Elmer Gantry.
They need the leadership of the candidate who told America:
"[I]n recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They are wrong.
"The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust.
"We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders – in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from 'the God who gave us liberty.'
"Nor would I separate us from our religious heritage."
Mr. Romney is the candidate who would deliver what Huckabee supporters really want.
Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.
Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.
The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.
Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.