Not quite the results I was hoping for in Iowa, I must admit. I'm still not ready to come out as a Romney guy, but I had hoped to see Huck come in 2nd to — well — just about anyone else. Including Ron Paul.
Along with Mr. Hewitt, I am astonished that Huck's career as governor of Arkansas was almost completely ignored. It also verifies the election year principle that dirty politics are not only alive and well, but a politically acceptable practice. So long as you're not the front-runner and/or they're not aimed at you personally, that is. With Ed Rollins calling the shots for Huck, though, Huckabee had better be prepared for worse tricks to be played on him if he somehow manages to derail the GOP's only chance to re-establish itself as the voice of conservatives in this country.
In fact, if you look at the current field, my brand of conservatism is in serious danger of being hugely under-represented in this fight. McCain has completely sold us out on the immigration question. His dalliances with the ancient Sen. Kennedy have torpedoed him, and the damage is fatal. Anyone with any desire to control our borders will not under any circumstances support McCain. He's stuck it to us far too often.
Giuliani is a mockery from the social angle. His is a conservatism of convenience. In other words, he's a conservative only because he needs their support if he has any hope of making it into the Oval Office a year from now. Socially he's about as conservative as the California Witch Triumvirate (Pelosi, Feinstein and Boxer, if you must know). We who consider ourselves to be "true" social conservatives can never trust Giuliani as our figurehead.
Fred Thompson comes a little closer to the ideal, but Thompson is an enigma as a candidate. He's far too casual for my taste. I know he's smarter than he comes across, and heaven knows he can make with the straight talk when called for. The problem is that it needs to be called for, for some reason. He just isn't pushing this race forward, and that makes me think what he's looking for is to ride shotgun in 2008. He'd be thrilled if McCain managed to garner the nomination and asked his buddy from Tennessee to join him on the ticket. I, on the other hand, would be less than impressed.
The others are also-rans now, and I expect drop-outs to occur soon. Ron Paul, Tancredo, Hunter. Interesting for their views and entertainment value, but taking up valuable space at the debate podiums. They need to back out, and soon. I fear that Ron Paul may try to take his 10% showing in Iowa on the road and try to raise the bar a bit, but ultimately he will fail. Too many negatives in his column to balance the one or two positives.
This leaves Huckabee and Romney for across-the-board conservatives like Woody. My problems are now two-fold:
1. Huckabee has a very sketchy record as governor, and the Republicans who suffered through his terms in office are no fans of his. His penchant for rewarding deep-pocket supporters, raising "fees" (a euphemism for "taxes") while lowering a few "taxes" (probably a euphemism for "fees"), and sneering at the beliefs of a few million potential voters does not endear the man to me. He may very well have the "correct" views I would expect from a social conservative, and he claims to have the fiscal legs as well. However, he is shockingly naive with regard to world affairs, and this is a critical piece of the political puzzle these days.
2. This leaves Romney. From just about any view point I would consider myself a Romney "supporter." He's got the social background (yes, I buy into his "abortion repentence" schtick... heaven knows I've changed my own mind on a few topics over the years) and I suspect he would defend the critical issues to my liking. He's smart; he stays abreast of issues that are critical from both a domestic and a foreign perspective and he has well-defined views on how to handle most of them. Additionally, he has a fiscal record that is truly conservative in nature. People may not like being laid off when a company is re-organized, but stockholders love — and need — to see that happen if the economy is to grow. Long gone are the days when people can reasonably expect to be doing the same thing for the same company throughout their entire careers. I not only don't work for the same company I started with over twenty years ago, but I've had to learn new ways of doing what I do over and over again; all without ever cleaning out my desk. That's just the nature of business nowadays. Get used to it.
The problem with Romney is his electability. That, unfortunately, boils down to his religion. Constitutionally (and reasonably) there can never be a religious test for the President of the United States, but that doesn't stop voters from creating one. It certainly doesn't stop the press from keeping it in front of us ad nauseum. Fair? No, but neither is the press' desire to keep "inherent racism" at the forefront of the Democrats' run for office. Theoretically both issues should be dead. Non-issues, if you will. Obama has already shown that a black candidate can hold his own against a slate of white political-establishment candidates, so the "racism" issue should be dead. Ditto the religious one. But the press will continue to harp on both topics for as long as they think they're selling papers. (Given the press' ability to recognize that their own industry is slowly bleeding to death, this will last pretty much for as long as they do.)
I want to be a Romney guy. If the choice for California's primary comes down to Huck or Romney, Romney gets my vote. Should Thompson or Giuliani be the nominee, I could probably choke it down and vote their way. McCain simply won't be on the ticket. He's betrayed the party faithful too many times to ever be forgiven, no matter how strong he may show in New Hampshire. But if Huck becomes the party's candidate this year, look for Woody to vote independent in 2008, even if it means giving the election to the Democrat.
It's the only way I can vote with a clear conscience.