E.J. Dionne of Truthdig:
WASHINGTON—The rise of Mike Huckabee has put the fear of God into the Republican establishment. Its alarm has nothing to do with the Almighty.
The Huckabee surge represents a break with what has been standard operating procedure within the GOP for more than a generation. Huckabee’s evangelical Christian army in Iowa ignored the importuning of entrenched leaders of the religious right and decided to go with one of their own.
Huckabee himself preaches a gospel of populism that rejects conservative orthodoxy on trade, the value of government and the beneficence of Wall Street.
But Huckabee poses an even greater danger since Giuliani, despite his apostasy on abortion and gay rights, has pledged fealty to economic and foreign policy conservatism.
Huckabee, said Keene, a Romney supporter, “is not a conservative who is an evangelical, he’s an evangelical populist. It’s not the evangelical part that conservatives worry about. It’s the populism. It’s his economic views.”
National Review—the canonical publication of the conservative movement—rallied behind Romney last week in an editorial that was candid about the dangers facing the conservative coalition.
The polls suggest that religious conservatism, not economic populism, is behind Huckabee’s rise in Iowa. But he is not backing down from his role as a tribune of the dispossessed. On NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday, he declared that “the Wall Street-to-Washington axis, this corridor of power, is absolutely, frantically against me.” He insisted: “The president ought to be a servant of the people and ought not to be elected to the ruling class.” Power to the People, Mike, Right On!
If you had to bet, you’d wager that the Republican establishment will eventually crush Huckabee. But the rebellion he is leading is a warning to Republicans. The faithful are restive, tired of being used, and no longer willing to do the bidding of a crowd that subordinates Main Street’s values to Wall Street’s interests.