Thursday, December 20, 2007

Huckabee and Tribalism

Ann Coulter attacks Mike Hucakbee from his blind side: namely, the principled evangelical right.

As far as I can tell, it's mostly secular liberals swooning over Huckabee. Liberals adore Huckabee because he fits their image of what an evangelical should be: stupid and easily led.

The media are transfixed by the fact that Huckabee says he doesn't believe in evolution.


Asked on CNN's "Larry King Live" Monday night about his beliefs on evolution, Huckabee rushed to assure King that he has no interest in altering textbooks that foist this fraud on innocent schoolchildren.

I don't understand that. Does Huckabee believe Darwinism is a hoax or not? If he knows it's a fraud, then why does he want it taught to schoolchildren?


When not evolving his position on Darwinism, Huckabee insults gays by pointlessly citing the Bible's rather pointed remarks about sodomy -- fitting the MSM's image of evangelicals sitting around all day denouncing gays. (Which is just so unfair. I'm usually done denouncing gays by 10:30 a.m., 11 tops.) And yet, Huckabee has said he agrees with the Supreme Court's lunatic opinion that sodomy is a constitutional right.
As Allah and Ace have pointed out, Coulter's examples are not particularly compelling to most voters. In fairness, I think Coulter has already said much about Huckabee's failing on more mainstream consevative issues like taxes and immigration (here and here, for instance). What she is trying to do in this article is drive a wedge between Huckabee and the type of evangelical that doesn't care about such issues, but just wants a president with a plastic fish on his lapel. In other words, to the voter who says "I don't care about politics, I just want an Evangelical like me in the White House", Coulter is saying, "Even so, Huck isn't your guy." While I think she still could have applied the same analysis to more resonant issues, (abortion for instance), I applaud her attempt at bringing critical thinking skills to bear on a subject that is all too often a matter of visceral response.

But that just higlights another concern implicit in Coulter's complaints that should be noted even by those who don't share her interest in the particular issues of Darwinism or homosexuality: what I call Conservative Tribalism. The force of Coulter's criticism is that Huckabee is willing to express the proper Evangelical pieties on such issues, but his "convictions" don't seem to translate into actual policy positions. What Huckabee supporters seem to want is not someone who will do what is right, but someone who is from the right tribe. This has been a problem in Southern politics since the Civil War, though it has usually been more characteristic of the Democratic party than the Republicans. Coulter is quite right to point out that this is "bad for Evangelicals".

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