I’m not a psychiatrist, but I think I can diagnose the mental disorder afflicting the non-Huckabee Republicans this December. It’s called denial.
Huckabee is #1 or #2 in the country, depending on who you believe. (Personally I believe Rasmussen Reports, which has Huckabee #1) He’s in first place in Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, and running strong in Arkansas, Florida, Texas, and Wisconsin, as well.
And yet the other Republicans running for the nomination and their supporters are comforting themselves by saying, “This is only a bump, it won’t last.” “Huckabee is only a blip.” “He’ll burn out soon.”
I’ll tell you, I am not a seer. But even I recognize that Huckabee is now a long-term player on the national political stage. You can make a coherent case that Huckabee won’t win, and some have done so. But to dismiss his chances completely is just wishful thinking. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that it’s a case of denial, because denial, in the clinical sense, is “a defense mechanism in which a person is faced with a fact that is too painful to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite … overwhelming evidence.” (Wikipedia)
Maybe that’s why the pack failed to fall on Huckabee today in Des Moines, at the final debate before voting begins. They must have believed that Huckabee would say something crazy, or have a mental breakdown at the podium. But that didn’t happen, and now they all have three weeks to think about their mistake.
Maybe it’s hubris, maybe it’s the arrogance with which the political establishment looks at independent thinkers. Maybe it has more to do with impotence and cognitive dissonance. It’s not hard to imagine, after all, that the other candidates are either too jealous or too awestruck to think straight.
But I think it’s denial.