No offense to their supporters, but both candidates throw a major element of the Republican coalition off the bus. Their appeal is based on this dismissal, and without absolute unity Republicans can't win.
Just ask Democrats what disunity did for them.
If you've been playing The 1967 Game along with us, you'll recognize these guys as the extremist wings of the Democratic Party from that time, the fire-breathers who drew cheers from their supporters while turning a generation off the Democratic Party brand.
In Ron Paul's case, he's tossing the neo-conservatives off the bus. Then he's running over them. Then he's backing the bus up to run over them again.
You don't just hear it in the sneer he gives their imperial aims in Iraq, you hear it clearly in the cheers with which his followers greet this. They don't care if Paul is an economic royalist, an ultra-Randian, an anti-government absolutist so extreme (sincere, and consistent) in his beliefs that he probably couldn't be re-elected from his South Houston district (he refuses to bring home the bacon, just leaves it on the side of the road to rot).
You don't support Ron Paul with your head. You support him with your heart, and your guts. In your guts you know he's nuts. You are, too. You live in a world of political theory, a jungle world you wouldn't personally survive a day in, unless you had the morals of an ax-murderer. (He's got Bud Light. And a chainsaw!)
Huckabee, in contrast, throws the economic royalists off the bus. No doubt he would throw Ron Paul off the bus, just as Paul would toss Huckabee.
He also does this explicitly. Never mind that, like them, he supports replacing every other tax with a regressive sales tax. Calling Stephen Moore's Club for Growth the "Club for Greed" (as above) is tossing the ideological wing of the party off the bus.
But also as in George Babbitt, the Sinclair Lewis anti-hero whose character also made an appearance in Elmer Gantry. (Burt Lancaster fully deserved his acting Oscar for portraying Gantry in the movie, right.) All the media sees with Huckabee right now is the velvet glove. They don't see the iron fist under that glove, just as they refused to see through George W. Bush's carefully-crafted image to what lay beneath. They want to play the same game here, but it won't work.
Huckabee is a theocrat. His rhetoric sounds moderate because theocrats have changed their rhetoric in the last few years, de-emphasizing the social issues in favor of the environment and feeding the prosperity gospel to poor people. But he's just as absolutist on the theocratic issues, the enslavement of women to mens' sperm, the denial of humanity to those whose hearts were made different, and the demand that everyone adhere to his God or be considered godless.
Huckabee is a likable theocrat who plays rock guitar and wants to jam with Keith Richards. He's an aw-shucks theocrat who lost 100 pounds when he was diagnosed as diabetic. But he is a theocrat, make no mistake.
The so-called "mainstream" candidates for President -- Romney, Giuliani, Thompson, McCain -- get that way because they carefully manage themselves around the internal contradictions of the Republican coalition, seeking the favor of those they know are suspicious of them. None explicitly rejects any element of the Bush coalition, or the Bush record for that matter.
They all seem amazed that Bush is so unpopular, as though he just didn't explain things right, or made a few minor mistakes in execution they will fix. Maybe he's not emphasizing the right things, they say, not taking enough advantage of 9-11, or inherited wealth, or doctrinal adherence, that he's somehow not thinking himself essential enough.
Huckabee and Paul, on the other hand, know what's wrong. They each want to appoint a Republican firing squad, against the Wall Streeters in Huckabee's case, the neocons in Paul's case. Theirs is what is left of Republican Populism in our time, a strain of thought the party's leaders always saw as a bit kooky, a bit mysterious, even ookie, but which they depended upon to attain absolute power over America, its military assets, and its financial wealth for a decade of looting that will go down in world history as just as breathtaking in its audacity, a sacking of the city by the centurions as crazy as that of the French Bourbons.
After all that, who dares call Huckabee, Paul, or their supporters crazy? Next to the insanity of the last 8 years they're the only sane men in the Republican room.
Two flew over the cuckoo's nest. But America is not an insane asylum. Only the Republican Party is. We're not looking for a new head inmate. We want new principles, new myths, new values, a new political thesis like the one which has developed in exile, on the Internet, these last 8 years.