December 16, 2007


Back during the Great Florida recount of 2000 (Boy, how's that for a What If?) Michael Kinsley made the great point that where you stood on the issues of the recount had everything to do with who was your guy:

The issues involved in the recount made it a laboratory experiment in spin. Most had enormous partisan consequences but no ideological component. When Republicans and Democrats disagree along party lines about, say, a tax cut, it's at least theoretically possible that everyone involved is expressing carefully considered and sincerely held views. When they become excited about the dangers or benefits of affirmative action, it's not out of the question that their displays of emotion are sincere. But until Nov. 7, there was no obvious liberal or conservative view about manual recounts or absentee-ballot applications. A chad was not a subject to invoke the passions.

So when a vigorous argument about dimples breaks down precisely along party lines, that is a coincidence that requires explanation. The most obvious explanation is that everybody's view on dimples depend on their view about the logically unrelated subject of who should be President. If fate had put Gore and Bush in the other's place on election night, the drama of the next five weeks would have had everybody playing the opposite role. Katherine Harris would have been flexibility personified. Laurence Tribe and David Boies would have been eloquent sticklers for the precise rule of law. Do you doubt it?

The outcome of the recount left us with an idiot for a President. Again, driven by circumstance, conservatives and Republicans were forced to defend the notion that it didn't matter if the President didn't know anything. Now, there is nothing inherent in conservative philosophy that requires a moron for a President. Most political philosophies do better with people who know a thing or two running the show. Its just that the GOP was saddled with an idiot for a leader and had to make a virtue out of necessity.

But now, with Huckabee, its time to pay the piper. Here's Balloon Juice documenting the conservative freak-out over Huckabee. And here's Kevin Drum noting David Frum's dismay that both Huckabee and Ron Paul know nothing about anything, and that perfectly fine according to conservative rhetoric of the last seven years.

Conservative leaders and intellectuals are jumping up and down, saying "Huckabee doesn't know anything" and maybe he doesn't. But for the last 7 years knowing stuff has been a bad thing. "Having a good heart" and "being firm" are good. Having no freaking clue how the worlds works is wonderful. That's been the party line too long to switch now.

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