Saturday, December 29, 2007


There's an old saying: the best defense is a good offense. I don't think it was Sun-tzu who coined that axiom, but it makes a lot of sense nonetheless - particularly in political campaigning.

As I discussed yesterday, Mitt Romney's herculean focus on Iowa and New Hampshire, the lynchpin of his "win early, win the nomination" strategy, is paying the dividends that I predicted they would several months ago. He had nowhere to go but down, and as the finish lines for both early contests approach, he's fading in both.

So the former Massachusetts governor is doing what any pol in his position has to do: opening fire on the rivals who are overtaking him. The other day he ran a quasi-negative ad against John f'ing McCain in New Hampshire that has already paid handsome dividends in provoking "Sailor" to, in effect, blow his stack by countering with an ad that calls Romney a "phony".

Pot. Kettle. Black. Image of McCain as thin-skinned, unstable hothead reinforced.

Romney has done the same against Mike f'ing Huckabee in Iowa, only the reaction he's provoked from the Arkansas vickar was, shall we say, noticeably less manly:

Republican Mike Huckabee on Saturday denounced political attack ads, saying people aren't looking for a president whose campaign is based on what's wrong with someone else.

Huckabee, who has surged to the top of the polls in Iowa with less than a week before the January 3 caucuses, said people want a president who will tell them what he would do if elected. He criticized attack ads aimed at him, saying, "If I believed half of that stuff, I wouldn't vote for myself."
First of all, Romney has been doing nothing BUT laying forth what he believes over the course of this year. True, much of what he says he believes now is at considerable odds with what he said he believed before he decided to run for president, which is most of why the Mittster has faded down the stretch, as I predicted he would. But he has hardly risen to the upper tier solely by stepping on the heads of his rivals.

More to the point, though, and speaking for myself, but knowing I'm not alone in this viewpoint, I find whining about negative ads on the part of a pol to be highly aggravating. This is, after all, a race for the most powerful office on the face of the planet. Running for president of the United States isn't like running for a seat on the local school board, or county water commissioner; it's not playing jacks or mumbledy-peg; it's a full-contact sport; it's the big leagues. And the more success you achieve in the effort, the more hostile fire you're going to attract from your rival(s). It comes with the territory, and I frankly expect any man or woman who has reached front-runner status to not only be aware of that, but accept it, and be willing to give as good as they get.

Now, of course, if an attack ad is recklessly inaccurate, that usually redounds to the detriment of the attacker. This makes it incumbent upon him or her to ensure that the content of said ad is vetted and verified. But then again, there's a difference between an ad with the cliched grainy black & white picture and the ominous voice over suggesting that Senator Bunghole might, just might, be an ax-murderer, and an ad that simply seeks to contrast one candidate's record on issues of importance to an electorate favorably with his/her rival.

And that's all Romney's "attack" ad does with Huckles:

Nothing shocking or unusual about that thirty-second spot. It just seeks to remind Republican voters that Mike f'ing Huckabee is no conservative on foreign policy, national security, fiscal policy, or crime. And it does so very effectively.

As has become emblematic of the Huckster, finding out the downside of being on top sent him careening into stepping on several more rakes in succession:

Huckabee said Americans want a president who will be truthful and consistent in his stands.

"You're not going to hear me say something different about the sanctity of life than I did 10 years ago," Huckabee said, referring to Romney's change in position on abortion rights. Although Huckabee has long been opposed to abortion, Romney had earlier supported abortion rights.
Leaving aside that Huck, in that comment alone, is getting as "negative" as Romney did, his problem is, ironically, that he is being truthful and consistent in his stands. But he's compounding that problem by the incompetence with which he's attempting to expound upon them while under the kilowatt klieg lights of a level of public scrutiny to which he's obviously unaccustomed:

In recent days, Mike Huckabee has tried to answer long-standing questions about who is on his foreign policy team. On Friday morning, he listed former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as someone with whom he either has “spoken or will continue to speak.”

At a Thursday evening press conference, Huckabee said, "I've corresponded with John Bolton, who's agreed to work with us on developing foreign policy.”

Bolton, however, has a different view. “I’d be happy to speak with Huckabee, but I haven’t spoken with him yet,” said Bolton, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington.
Sun-tzu once said, "Don't drop names before you have them in your hat." Well, actually, he probably didn't say that, but I'm sure saying it, and my name is easier to pronounce. Either way, it's advice that Huckleberry Hound should have heeded, and indeed should not need. Especially on the heels of his other gaffes of just the past forty-eight hours (if you want an obscene amount of detailed analysis on them, you know where to go):

This follows two embarrassing gaffes on Pakistan after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. In one, he mistook the shared Afghan border as being on the eastern side of Pakistan instead of the north-west side, and in the other he accidentally used the word "apologies" instead of condolences. The border error is minor, but the use of the word "apologies" has distinct diplomatic meaning, and if used by a President would have raised eyebrows around the world.
Romney almost doesn't have to bother casting all of Huck's weaknesses like swine before pearls (Can I hear a "suuuuueeeeeeyyyyy!"?). At least, he doesn't have to do much. And that's more than enough for this blogger, who seems to sum it up nicely:
I'm sure Mike Huckabee is a swell guy, but in my eyes, he's a mixture of everything I didn't like about Bill Clinton and George Bush.

A big government conservative with a history of accepting gifts from donors, a compulsion to legislate morality, and an "aw shucks," personality designed to catch you off guard, right before you find yourself taxed more to get less freedom.

If our friends in Iowa could give us a hand, we could Chuck Huck January 3rd.
Oh, did I mention this story?:
Mike Huckabee last year accepted $52,000 in speaking fees from a biotech giant that wants to research human embryonic stem cells, a nonprofit working to expand access to the morning after pill and a group pushing to study whether tightening gun control laws will reduce violence.
Consistency? Or The Price Is Right?

We report, you decide.