During his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, among the best he has delivered, Mitt Romney suspended his campaign, so as not to imperil GOP prospects in the fall. Said Mitt, "If I fight on ... all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Sens. Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror."
Thus did Romney endorse the John McCain view that the Democrats who intend to pull all U.S. combat brigades out by a date certain are raising the "white flag of surrender" to Islamofascist terror.
But when Mike Huckabee, who also delivered one of his best at CPAC, was asked if he would stand down for the good of the party, as his winning the nomination is now a near-mathematical impossibility, he brusquely dismissed such demands as "total nonsense."
"I didn't major in math," said the Baptist preacher, "I majored in miracles." Good for Huck. Why should he drop out?
For too long conservatives have suppressed their convictions or meekly submitted, so as not to oppose a Republican president or get out of step with the party leadership.
Because they did not wish to undercut George H.W. Bush, too many went along with his tax hikes and quota bill. And they paid the price in 1992.
Because they did not want to get out of step with their K Street contributors, too many went along with the refusal of Bush I and Bush II to secure America's borders. Belatedly, they have awakened to what "going along" has done to their country.
Because they did not want to get out of step with Newt and Dole, too many conservatives went along with NAFTA, Most Favored Nation trade status for China and the surrender of sovereignty to the World Trade Organization.
Result: $800 billion trade deficits, deindustrialization of the nation, and a dependency on foreigners for the necessities of our national life and for the borrowed money to pay for them.
Now, they all wonder why manufacturing jobs are leaving for China, why median family income no longer rises as in the Reagan era, why the Reagan Democrats are going home.
Because too many did not want to be seen as not supporting a Republican president in time of war, only six House Republicans voted to deny Bush a blank check for war.
Did the rest have no grave concern about the wisdom of invading Mesopotamia to dethrone a tyrant and democratize a nation that has never known democracy, when George H.W. Bush himself, wiser than his son, halted the Army of Desert Storm rather than take Baghdad?
Because Bush demanded it, too many conservatives went along with No Child Left Behind, Medicare funding of prescription drugs and the largest increases in social spending since LBJ. And what did their capitulation to Big Government Conservatism do for them, except earn them the contempt of the base, which they manifestly deserved?
Thinking is hard work, said Mark Twain -- that is why so few engage in it.
For too long, conservatives have not been thinking, but living on the inherited intellectual capital of the past. They have failed to see that the world has changed since Reagan's time and we must change with it.
The truth is the prospective Republican nominee is frozen in the past. Though an invasion of his nation is taking place on the border of his own state, John McCain is still reciting Emma Lazarus on the Golden Door. Though China manipulated its currency to seize our markets and loot our industry, and the European Union imposes value-added taxes -- tariff equivalents -- on U.S. imports, McCain is still babbling on about Smoot-Hawley.
Though the Cold War has been over for a generation, McCain has become more bellicose. He warns us new wars are coming, demands the ouster of Vladimir Putin from the G-8 and threatens Iran. If there is a single tripwire for war laid down in the time of Dean Acheson and John Foster Dulles that John McCain thinks we should pull up, or a single alliance he has urged us to review, this writer has not heard of it.
With the president at 30 percent and the party about to lose seats in both houses of Congress, conservatives should not be closing ranks but demanding to know why.
Huckabee has a chance to do himself a world of good by piling up votes and delegates and making himself a conservative alternative to McCain. But he also has a chance to serve his party and country, by putting on the table the issues neither party is addressing.
Are we as overextended strategically and militarily as we surely are financially and fiscally? Should we stick with free trade if our rivals are rabid economic nationalists? If we let 12 million to 20 million illegals stay, how do we stop the next 12 million to 20 million from coming in?
For his party's and his country's sake, as well as his own, Mike Huckabee should keep the conversation going. Because right now, his party is looking at Hillary, Obama -- or Bush's third term.