This Frank Rich column (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/09/opinion/09rich.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin) in the New York Times is very good and it looks at the mood of the country for change. While I am no Huckabee supporter whatsoever, it is interesting to see Rich's analysis of why he is surging in the polls lately. I definitely believe that we need the next presdient to be someone who can lead the country in a new direction, reduce partisan warfare and help restore the country's reputation and image internationally. Here are highlights:
COULD 2008 actually end up being a showdown between the author of “The Audacity of Hope” and the new Man from Hope, Ark.? Like Senator Obama, Mr. Huckabee is the youngest in his party’s field. (At 52, he’s also younger than every Democratic contender except Mr. Obama, who is 46.) Both men have a history of speaking across party and racial lines. Both men possess that rarest of commodities in American public life: wit. Most important, both men aspire (not always successfully) to avoid the hyper-partisanship of the Clinton-Bush era.
Though their views on issues are often antithetical, Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Obama may be united in catching the wave of an emerging zeitgeist that is larger than either party’s ideology. An exhausted and disillusioned public may be ready for a replay of the New Frontier pitch of 1960. That pitch won’t come from Mr. Romney, a glib salesman who seems a dead ringer for Don Draper, a Madison Avenue ad man of no known core convictions who works on the Nixon campaign in the TV series, “Mad Men.” Mr. Romney’s effort to channel J.F.K. last week, in which he mentioned the word Mormon exactly once, was hardly a profile in courage.
Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado, the fringe candidate whose most recent ads accuse the invading hordes of “pushing drugs, raping kids, destroying lives,” accurately accused his opponents of trying to “out-Tancredo Tancredo.” Next to this mean-spiritedness, Mr. Huckabee’s tone leapt off the screen. Attacked by Mr. Romney for supporting an Arkansas program aiding the children of illegal immigrants, he replied, “In all due respect, we’re a better country than to punish children for what their parents did.” It was a winning moment, politically as well as morally. And a no-brainer at that. Given that Mr. Tancredo polls at 4 percent among Iowan Republicans and zero nationally, it’s hard to see why Rudy-Romney thought it was smart to try to out-Tancredo Tancredo.
The real reason for Mr. Huckabee’s ascendance may be that his message is simply more uplifting — and, in the ethical rather than theological sense, more Christian — than that of rivals whose main calling cards of fear, torture and nativism have become more strident with every debate. The fresh-faced politics of joy may be trumping the five-o’clock-shadow of Nixonian gloom and paranoia favored by the entire G.O.P. field with the sometime exception of John McCain. Mr. Huckabee may well be doomed in the long term. He has little money or organization. He’s so ignorant of foreign affairs that he hadn’t heard of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran a day after its release. His sometimes wacky economic populism riles his party’s most important constituency, Wall Street. And who knows how many other Arkansas scandals will be disinterred along with the paroled serial rapist who popped out last week? That Mr. Huckabee has gotten as far as he has shows just how in sync his benign style is with the cultural moment.
Experience, like nastiness, may also prove a dead end in the year ahead. In 1960, the experience card was played by all comers against the young upstart senator from Massachusetts. In Iowa, L.B.J. went so far as to tell voters that they should vote for “a man with a little gray in his hair.” But experience, Kennedy would memorably counter, “is like taillights on a boat which illuminate where we have been when we should be focusing on where we should be going.” Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Obama, meanwhile, are both betting that this is another crossroads, like 1960, when Americans are hungry for a leader who will refocus the nation on the path ahead.