Miracle Mike

The pundits, said Mike Huckabee, “say the math doesn’t work out. Folks, I didn’t major in math, I majored in miracles-and I still believe in those.”

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference just two days after Mitt Romney dropped out of the presidential race, and after a host of right-wing activists urged the grassroots to fall in line with John McCain, Huckabee didn’t exactly strike a confident pose.

But for the candidate who made his personal faith the center of his presidential bid, and who relied on church-based organizing to keep him limping along where broad-based support failed, the call for a “miracle” is simply the latest prong of his faith-based campaign.

Huckabee said he was inspired to take up the conservative cause as a young man by reading Phyllis Schlafly’s pamphlet, “A Choice, Not an Echo”–an indictment of Republicans who were tempted to compromise and a manifesto in favor of Barry Goldwater, whose quixotic campaign in 1964 birthed the modern right wing. And he made the title of the book the theme of his speech: primary voters, he said, “deserve more than a coronation” of John McCain. That was the “choice” part, at least, and he reeled off his right-wing positions on the war (pro), taxes (against), abortion (bad), “sovereignty” (hours before Schlafly herself was scheduled to be warning of a “North American Union” plot), and judges. Huckabee proposed that judges who “invoke some international law” should be “summarily impeached.”

He didn’t explain what the “echo” part was, but that was clear enough: Although Huckabee had long been seen as carrying water for McCain during the acrimonious Republican race, here he was accusing the presumptive nominee of “echoing” the left–of being Nelson Rockefeller to his Goldwater.

“This race is not to the swift or the strong, but to those who endure to the end,” said Star Parker in introducing Huckabee. Indeed, in the end Goldwater won the nomination, and while he lost the general election in a landslide, he left a movement in his wake. It’s possible that Huckabee really believes he can pull together some kind of “miracle” out of bitter-enders like Parker and now James Dobson. But it’s more likely that these activists are concerned less with winning than about maintaining the place of power the far right holds in the Republican Party.