A smart, horrifying post from Rich Lowry makes the case. It’s fitting that this should come from the editor of NR since, although they’d never admit it, part of their motive in endorsing Mitt was surely the fact that he used to be the Only Man Who Can Save the GOP from Huckamania. That’s by the boards now and McCain’s poised to finish him off on Tuesday, so who’s left? Like Lowry says, it’s hard to imagine Fred coming all the way back and Rudy’s off the grid entirely until Florida, by which time the Huckabee express may be barreling at him at full speed.
If Huck surprises in Michigan next week, it’s going to throw every non-evangelical in the party into a panic and looking for the anti-Huck to step up and stop him. Giuliani’s too much of a gamble at this point, especially since he can’t unite non-evangelical social cons, so Maverick’s the default choice. Which brings us to two fascinating possibilities: A Rudy resurgence among conservatives starting January 20 if Huck smites McCain in SC, and a call for Fred to get out and start campaigning for McCain if Huckabee wins Michigan and starts to contend seriously for the nomination.
Stay tuned now for both Huck and McCain to tack right and try to stockpile as many non-evangelicals as they can for the coming battle. In the meantime, this much seems certain: The only guy guaranteed to still be in the race on February 5, i.e. Super Ultra Mega Tuesday, is Giuliani. If it does come down to him versus Huck, with Rudy the only thing standing in the way of Huck’s nomination, that’ll be mighty interesting.
Update: Ah, what does it matter?
Update: Slublog notes McCain’s problems in New Hampshire right now with independents, who are likely to split three ways between him, Obama, and Ron Paul. If Romney squeaks past him there, then his status as the Only Man Who Can Save the GOP from Huckamania is restored and he ends up in a death match with Huck in Michigan.