The Huckabee Conspiracy

Mike Huckabee has not been shy about criticizing Washington’s Religious Right powerbrokers for failing to back his campaign, repeatedly accusing them of choosing “political expediency” over core values and questioning their reluctance to support a “true soldier for the cause” and exhorting them to be ‘‘Christian leaders, not Republican leaders.” 

But as The New Republic reported yesterday, all this bellyaching only seems to be alienating the Washington insiders even further:

Huck shouldn’t expect a flood of big-name endorsements any time soon. For one thing, the erstwhile minister has seriously cheesed off some leaders with his public complaints about their not showing him the love. They express bemusement at his sense of “entitlement” and find his whining about their not rushing to endorse him downright irritating. As Bauer notes, “I for one give no credence to the idea that, because somebody worships the same way I do, they automatically have a claim on my support.”

Some leaders also worry (hope?) that, with Huck now being taken more seriously, his record and positions will draw greater scrutiny—and harsher criticism. “As he comes under more examination, there is a real possibility of there [emerging] misgivings about him on economic and foreign policy issues. So then those voters will go somewhere else,” says Bauer. Particularly on foreign policy, he stresses, “his instincts are not good.”

In the past, Huckabee has had particularly harsh words for his fellow Southern Baptist Richard Land:

‘‘Richard Land swoons for Fred Thompson,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t know what that’s about. For reasons I don’t fully understand, some of these Washington-based people forget why they are there. They make ‘electability’ their criterion. But I am a true soldier for the cause. If my own abandon me on the battlefield, it will have a chilling effect.’’

Apparently, the bad-blood between Huckabee and Land goes back to the days in the early 1990s when fundamentalists set out to take over the Southern Baptist Convention and Huckabee failed to side with them:

Only a handful of prominent SBC leaders have come out in Huckabee’s favor as well. While churches and non-profit religious institutions are not allowed to endorse or campaign for candidates, a handful of Southern Baptist pastors and leaders have offered personal endorsements of their colleague. Among them are former pastor and denominational executive Jimmy Draper and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Danny Akin.

Perhaps the most obvious omission in Huckabee’s crowd of supporters is Richard Land, the head of the SBC’s social-concerns agency and a conservative veteran of the denomination’s struggle. While he has, in the recent past, spoken glowingly of former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson and negatively of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Land has had little to say about his fellow Southern Baptist’s candidacy.

Paul Pressler, a retired Texas judge who is one of the two acknowledged masterminds of the conservative battle plan to wrest the SBC from moderates’ control, has also endorsed Thompson.

Privately, some close to Huckabee and familiar with Southern Baptist politics say that leaders like Land and Pressler simply don’t trust him because he refused to be a loyal foot-soldier during the SBC wars.

Maybe that explains it.  Or who knows, maybe there is some sort of conspiracy at work: