Huckster running wild on Republicans

By Jonathan Jacobson

How is it possible that the words “Mike Huckabee” have graced my lips five times, more or less, today? How can it be that this ex-heavyweight-evangelical-turned-presidential-candidate’s name still assaults me from ten different directions on a daily basis?

The only state Huckabee has won by a double-digit margin – besides his own Arkansas – is Kansas, home of, well, Pizza Hut and also that church that pickets soldiers’ funerals because Americans dare to tolerate homosexuality.

So why is he hanging in there and, more importantly, why does anyone still care?

When Mitt Romney dropped out of the race last week, he claimed that his continued candidacy would “forestall the launch of a national campaign.” It was the noble and right thing to do. Nevermind that he had disproven – to the tune of over $50 million of his fortune – the typical correlation between money and success in politics.

And the former Massachusetts governor, who’s probably getting his ya-ya’s out on some third-world beach right now, still has more delegates than Huckabee.

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The Huckster, then, is wasting his time and ours. In a delightful little sports metaphor on Tuesday night, he said he would “keep playing until the last second of the clock has sounded.” Perhaps his watch was swallowed by a crocodile, because I heard the last tick about two weeks ago.

When someone suggested the mathematical impossibility of a Huckabee victory, he gave a response so muddled that it barely seemed lucid. “Some something,” he suggested, “could happen.” All I hear are the squeaks of rearranged deck chairs on the Titanic.

Of all the presidential candidates, I’ve always been most entertained by Huckabee. That Christmas advertisement with the bookshelf-cum-cross, the Chuck Norris endorsement, and “The Colbert Report” appearances (featuring a game of air hockey with a Texas-shaped puck) never let me down.

He is, if nothing else, a reasonably funny man. Regrettably, as Stephen Colbert himself can attest, humor and presidential campaigns have only a superficial relationship.

And now, with Huckabee trailing McCain by nearly 600 delegates, it would seem to any rational human being that the time has come to call it a day. But Huckabee didn’t major in math. As he says, he majored in miracles.

The fact that Huckabee has not yet left the race is a testament to the tears in the fabric of the Republican party. Without a singular figure like George W. Bush to stand behind, the conservative establishment is pulling away from the rest of the party.

John McCain is never going to be able to unite the ultra-conservatives under his banner, but they need to realize that their continued support of Huckabee is hurting the only candidate with any chance of survival in November.

Even if Huckabee wants to provide these folks with an alternative, he is doing so to the detriment of the party, a fact even Romney realized. Every dollar making its way into Huckabee’s coffers ultimately takes one away from the Republican cause.

It is impossible to say why Huckabee has blinded himself to this reality. Is it mere human pride that keeps him from quitting? Is it the love of the game?

Or is it the fear that, when this is all over some time in the next few days or weeks, he will be an unemployed pastor and ex-politician with no podium, no audience and an unhealthy penchant for squirrel meat?

Jonathan is a senior in English and rhetoric who enjoys the occasional game of air hockey, though he likes his pucks circular.