Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Huckabee/ster: Theory and Practice

Dreher has an interesting catch. (Scroll to 12/28 entry...)

He quotes from "Applebee's America," a political-strategy essay:

Great Connectors like Presidents Bush and Clinton adapt to their times. They also realize that tactics do not win elections. Gut Values do. Cutting-edge strategies are useful only when they help a candidate make his or her values resonate with the public. For all their faults (and they had their share), Presidents Bush and Clinton knew that their challenge was in appealing to voters' hearts, not their heads. We heard this countless times: "Sure, he had sex wiht an intern and lied about it, but he cares about me and is working hard on my behalf." And this: "The Iraq war stinks and his other politices aren't so hot, but at least I know where he stands."

...and relates that to a press-account of Huckster's "closing" speech in Iowa:

For starters, it was remarkably short on policy. Oh, he touched on issues like energy and health care and immigration and he talked about gridlock in Washington and the corruption of big money in politics. But all of these points seemed incidental to the broader message of the speech.

Huckabee's speech was long on values. It was personal and conversational and, not surprisingly, given what he has shown in debates, often quite humorous. He filled the speech with stories about himself and his family.

Then, in a self-indictment (which includes the MSM as a whole), he ruminates: strikes me that Huckabee is an instinct politician who is making a gut values connection with Republican crowds. This should have been obvious as far back as this summer, when the cash-and-organization-poor candidate very nearly won the Iowa straw poll on the strength of his oratory alone. But a lot of us -- well, nearly all of us -- in the news media missed it, because hey, what chance can a flat-broke Baptist preacher from Arkansas have against this Republican field anyway?

Interesting. We'll know in a few days whether Huckabee's game plan is solid.

Not that Huckabee is alone with this--Fred Thompson has worked pretty hard on the Values thing himself, although his latest ad (at that link) is slightly more 'policy' than 'values.'

Dreher goes a little further with a prediction:

My guess is that two unpredictable news events will help determine whether or not Huckabee sinks or swims over the next month: 1) whether or not Pakistan blows up, and 2) the economic uncertainties over the credit crisis. If Pakistan's woes dominate the headlines, it's bad for Huck, and good for McCain. If bad economic news stays on the front page, it's good for Huck, especially if he pounds away on the Main St.-vs.-Wall Street theme.

Recall the recession-prediction we mentioned here. That's been confirmed (more or less) by the ECRI weekly-leading index (down again last week) and a few other folks.

Timing is everything.

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