The most popular candidates within the Republican wing of the Republican Party are Huckabee and Ron Paul. At this point, Huckabee’s primary problem is name-recognition, or the lack thereof.
He doesn’t have the instant name-recognition of Rudy, Hillary, or McCain, and—unlike Romney—he doesn’t have the cash flow to buy instant name-recognition. Thus far he’s been unable to break out of the “second tier”—which is unfortunate.
As for Ron Paul, I think more highly of his supporters than I think of his positions. As far as counterterrorism is concerned, I don’t think he understands the enemy, as a result of which he doesn’t understand how to cope with the enemy.
What he says about “blowback” has a modicum of truth. As such, his position has the appeal of a half-truth. Just enough truth to make it plausible, but not enough truth to make it responsible.
His position in a nutshell is that the jihadis wouldn’t be over here unless we were over there. Well, that’s catchy, and it’s true in a sense, but it’s truer than he knows.
The jihadis define American presence far more broadly than our military presence. We are “over there” through our economic might and cultural penetration. We are “over there” when we come into their living rooms via the TV and Internet and Hollywood fare.
The main problem that the jihadis have with America is not due to our physical presence in the Mideast, but our cultural and economic dominance.
We are not going to appease them by withdrawing into the borders of the continental United States and redeploy our resources to organizing the annual State Fair—for the impact of American culture would still extend beyond the Eastern Seaboard to reach the Mideast. This is a war of values as much as bullets. They feel threatened by our values. Western values—for better or worse—undermine traditional Islamic social values (e.g. Sharia). So this is ultimately an ideological battle, and not a war to make the world safe for Standard Oil. They also resent our economic clout.
And I’d add that, of itself, “blowback” is not much of an argument. Yes, when you fight back, you make your enemy mad at you. So what? Should we let a bully rule the schoolyard because we’re afraid of getting a black-eye if we don’t give in to his demands?
Ron Paul is also too rule bound to adapt to the new tactics of a new enemy and offer real time countermeasures. Sorry, but he reminds me of hospital bureaucrat who lets the gunshot victim bleed to death in the ER while the paperwork is being processed.
You can’t fight a suicide bomber in triplicate. Indeed, the jihadis are trying to shackle us in reams of red tape.
Although Ron Paul has cast himself in the part of the doughty Constitutionalist, his method acting doesn’t overcome the suspension of disbelief. I’m sure he’s sincere, but his idea of checks and balances seems to be limited to the role of Congress and the Court as a check on the White House—without any corresponding check on Congress or the Court.
He’d deny that, of course, but as a practical matter he’s attempting to hamstring the Executive in the “war on terror.” At that level he’s interchangeable with a lawyer for the ACLU.
Huckabee is my first-pick. Fred Thompson is underwhelming. But he has a fairly conservative voting record. If Huckabee can’t break out of the pack, then I’d be prepared to vote for Thompson as an uninspiring, but adequate compromise candidate.