Dobson & Weyrich the 'Heart and Soul' of the Republican Party?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 09:06 PM

Mike Huckabee seems to think so. Or at least that's my reading of the Huckabee campaign's press release which referenced his recent endorsement by James Dobson and Paul Weyrich, followed in short order by his claim that he represents the "heart and soul" of the party.

The two statements come in consecutive paragraphs of the press release:
“I am also grateful for the support of the icons of the conservative movement, such as Paul Weyrich and James Dobson, who have recently joined my campaign team.

“Looking at the results from the past week, one thing is clear: my message of hope, optimism, and authentic conservatism is in sync with the heart and soul of the Republican Party.

I have two concerns about these statements. First, it seems to me that whether Huckabee represents the heart and soul of the Republican party is one of the real questions for this campaign cycle. The same is true for John McCain. And my guess is that answer is: neither of them do, because right now there is no heart and soul of the Republican party, there is only a several way struggle among competing groups to become it.

Second, anyone who thinks that Dobson and Weyrich are the heart and soul pf the party, and feels good about that, is so far gone that it scares me that such a person could get an appreciable number of votes for president. Dobson's Focus on the Family is both a big bucks enterprise and pretty loose with its facts and claims, especially how it represents the research of others. Weyrich is...Weyrich. Author of one of my all-time scariest quotes from an American person of power:

We are different from previous generations of conservatives. We are no longer working to preserve the status quo. We are radicals, working to overturn the present power structure in this country.
That's from the 1984 book by John Soloma, Ominous Politics: The New Conservative Labyrinth.

I also have to say that the fact that Weyrich endorsed Dobson is close to amazing. Weyrich is the author of such pieces as the November, 2007 classic Federal Government Housing For Americans – A Communist Precedent. Huckabee is famous for, among other things, actually thinking that the poor are important, and apparently recognizing that government just might have some responsibility to help them. In fact, a Rolling Stone article favorably describes his approach this way:

Rather than employing the ­patented Bush-Rove tactic of using abortion and gay rights to hoodwink low-­income Christians into supporting patrician, pro-corporate policies, Huckabee is a bigger-government Republican who emphasizes prison reform and poverty relief.
So Huck gets Weyrich and Dobson, simply because they can't stomach McCain. McCain gets several endorsements from economic and foreign policy conservatives at least in part because they can't stomach Huckabee. Now if only the Republicans could find a candidate with Huckabee's conscience toward the poor, McCain's attitude toward social values, and Ron Paul's view of foreign policy. Then the Democrats would be sure to win, because that Republican candidate would probably get zero Republican votes.

That's the dilemma of the Republicans in 2008. Cross purposes, crossed swords, and dimishing ability to plausibly appeal to anyone not at the extreme end of one of the spectrums.