We already knew the Republican Party establishment was apoplectic about Mike Huckabee's rise. Not only does it see him as easily defeated in the general election, it sees him as an outsider, someone too much of -- rather than merely close to -- the party's evangelical base. And it has some substantial problems with his policy prescriptions, which tend too far to the big government side. Still, the party's elite operatives and pundits have mostly allowed Huckabee to enjoy at least one moment in the sun post-Iowa before they go back on the warpath against him.
Not the devotedly pro-corporate, anti-big-government Wall Street Journal editorial page, though. The proverbial body of the Iowa caucuses was barely cold before it printed an Op-Ed attacking Huckabee as unacceptably leftist, comparing him even to boogeymen FDR and history's greatest monster, Jimmy Carter. The author, one David J. Sanders, writes, "Mr. Huckabee portrays himself as the dream candidate of the religious right ... With increasing frequency, Mr. Huckabee invokes his faith when advocating greater government involvement in just about every aspect of American life. In doing so, Mr. Huckabee has actually answered the prayers of the religious left."
Sanders goes on to say that it would be difficult for Huckabee to enact the social conservative part of his agenda, but that the economically liberal aspects would sail through as the result of "a Democratic Congress ... more than willing to let him live out his faith on the taxpayers' dime."
Elsewhere, radio host, blogger and columnist Hugh Hewitt, an unabashed propagandist for Mitt Romney, whose thunder Huckabee has stolen, has a long broadside against Huckabee today. Hewitt darkly suggests something Huckabee's own advisors were happy to suggest -- that Huckabee may be killing the coalition Ronald Reagan built -- and attacks Huckabee over and over again on illegal immigration. (I've said it before and I'll say it again: If you want to know early what the talking points out of the campaigns Hewitt supports will be, just read his writings. Look for Romney to repeatedly bash Huckabee over the head on illegal immigration in coming days.)
Noting that there's still time in the campaign, Hewitt writes, "Wyoming, New Hampshire and Michigan Republicans have to decide if the [Reagan] coalition and what it stands for are worth fighting for. If they do, they will follow the lead of the editors of National Review and get behind a Romney comeback."
Update: Seems Salon's Andrew Leonard and I think alike; as I was finishing this post, he published his own in his How the World Works blog about the Sanders Op-Ed. Andrew's post is here and, as always, worth reading.