The candidate chose to occupy his snow day with a moral blunder of the first order — accepting the endorsement of Jim Gilchrist, the founder of an anti-immigrant group called the Minuteman Project. ~Michael Gerson
Gerson has turned on the “compassionate” conservative candidate pretty quickly here. Not because of the man’s real moral blunders (see Wayne Dumond et al.), but because he associates himself with restrictionists and adopts restrictionist proposals. In Gerson’s moral universe, opposition to illegal immigration and support for border security seem to be among the worst errors one can make (”a moral blunder of the first order,” he says). Ironically, Gerson’s criticism of Huckabee’s embrace of Gilchrist is just the kind of thing Huckabee needs in the nomination contest to shore up his reputation as an “authentic conservative” (as his advertisements refer to him). Anything that will distance him from Gerson and “compassionate conservatism” is a plus for him, since it undermines the argument that the rest of us are promoting that Huckabee is in many ways not conservative and is not the candidate that conservatives should want to support. Gerson’s disapproval may become for some people another reason to give Huckabee another look, when they should not even give him a first look.
Considering Huckabee’s incredibly small campaign staff, this question was quite amusing:
Did someone vet Gilchrist’s past statements?
The candidate doesn’t even have someone to brief him about leading news stories on national security, and we’re supposed to expect a rigorous vetting process of endorsers? The strange thing is that Huckabee’s transparent flip on immigration probably won’t hurt him that much, despite what Gerson thinks it will do to his reputation for “authenticity.” The beauty of a politician having a reputation for authenticity is that it is almost always undeserved. In any case, it can be effectively faked by clever performers, and there’s no doubt that Huckabee is that if he is nothing else. Further, all of his main rivals have been as bad or worse on immigration than he was. I was going to say, “except for Fred Thompson,” but Thompson isn’t really a main rival anymore. This means that their collective stampede to the right on immigration gives him plenty of cover to transform himself cynically into an anti-amnesty, border-enforcing champion. Unbelievably, Iowan restrictionist voters are buying into it right now.