In the absence of the shrill and hysterical rants from Talk Radio over the past few weeks, who knows what kind of case Governor Romney could have made for himself among conservatives? I spoke out against what I felt was a bullying from the Commentocracy that was unprecedented in American history. As irony would have it, the day before Governor Romney suspended his campaign, I sent each of the major talk radio people a simple chart showing the delegate count for each candidate with this observation:
Senator McCain 53% of delegates
All others together 47% of delegates
They could not, after all, blame Mike Huckabee for their failure to browbeat us into voting for Governor Romney. After he invested more than $80 million in his campaign, combined with the tens of millions in free airtime courtesy of Talk Radio and a near total blackout of anything positive about McCain, Huckabee or Ron Paul, Mitt was only able to capture primaries in his adopted home states and a few caucus states. This, I told the talkers, all translated into a “weak and unconvincing candidate”.
Now that it is all said and done, and we struggle to put this dark chapter of GOP history behind us, there is a clear lesson to be taken from the events that took place over the past month: It was just as important to defeat Governor Romney because of his effort at self-funding as it was to turn him out for his failure to convince us that he had any core conservative principles.
Please don’t take this as yet another class warfare rant. Neither Governor Huckabee nor his supporters buy into the “Two Americas” populism of John Edwards. Mitt is entitled to his money, hard earned and invested as he saw fit. However, the overarching message of this leg of the 2008 presidential campaign had everything to do with the American Creed. It was a bold push-back sent to the Establishment, the Commentocracy and any Mainstream Media types curious enough to seek the truth: “The Oval Office is not an asset to be acquired in a leveraged buyout.”
Huckabee’s little band of guerilla warriors helped their fellow citizens maintain a proud American tradition of rejecting self-funded campaigns. The eBay strategy didn’t work for Steve Forbes and Ross Perot. Now it has failed Governor Romney. Whether the demise of the Romney campaign was a backlash against self-important Talk Radio barons or yet another rejection of self-funding, we can all take pride in the fact that conservative market principles and not money or media decided Mitt Romney’s electoral fate. It all took place without government regulations, Fairness Doctrines or McCain Feingold anti-speech laws.
The storyline will be wrong, as usual. For those of us who watched and were awed by the way America’s political process heals itself, a minor miracle envisioned only by the nation’s Founders took place. Mike Huckabee, a simple preacher decades ago, learned through real life experience what it means to serve and to struggle and to see others struggle. He was able to maintain conservative principles and held true to his convictions through a difficult stretch as a voice crying in the wilderness of Democrat corruption in Arkansas politics. He stood against the Clinton attack machine and prevailed three times — the longest term of a Republican governor in Arkansas practically since Reconstruction — and did not misplace his core principles along the way.
With hardly any money and a small army of everyday people giving of their time and treasure to take this message across the nation, Huckabee, like David with five small stones against insurmountable odds felled a well-funded establishment supported candidate and all of Talk Radio with the first of those stones. The Giant is dead.
We now wait to see what will become of the remaining four stones.