Tony Blankley

Michael Huckabee's close loss in South Carolina (a state oddly named after English King Charles II, who is known to history as an opponent of vehement Protestantism) probably bids adieu to his current presidential aspirations -- but not to his place as a political comer in the coming Republican chaos. But for Thompson's McCain-friendly efforts to grab 20-plus percent of the conservative Christian vote, Huckabee would have won a comfortable victory in South Carolina. Now that Thompson has dropped out, Huckabee could have a clean shot at 60 percent of the evangelical vote -- if he doesn't run out of money and steam.

If Giuliani and Romney each can hold at least 20 percent of the vote, it still will be a four-way fight right down to the convention. If Giuliani and Romney slump, it will be McCain's to lose. (I am prepared to take up smoking again if we have a brokered convention with smoke-filled rooms). I tremble not only for my party but also for my country at the thought that our nominee will have to overcome the irrational pleadings of the Democrats to win the day.

If economic times are hard, the Democrats will argue that we should suck all the potency out of the economy and redistribute it to the least economically efficient. They will argue for subsidizing inefficient alternative energy sources that will bankrupt us before it will power us. (Caveat: Being rational, I represent oil and gas producers, who will produce about 80 percent of our energy if we let them. If we don't let them, I look forward to galloping past the Democratic commuters on one of my fine horses on the way to work.)

If the candidates in both parties are stumbling inelegantly down the election path, the mainstream media are hardly covering themselves in glory. Particularly amusing was last weekend's "reporting" of how Bill Clinton is off the message requested by the Hillary for President team, and how both Hillary's and Obama's surrogates were freelancing their racial attacks on each other. Of course, both campaigns are frantically spinning these fairy tales, but the willingness of the media to report that spin as truth is disgraceful.

I have worked on many campaigns. Senior surrogates are assigned, among other things, the job of delivering the nasty but necessary bits of a campaign's message matrix. Campaigns try to avoid having those words (such as those appealing to race) come directly from the candidates' lips. Fine. That's politics. But for the media to "report" that Hillary and Obama didn't want those words delivered is not fine. And it's not journalism; it's flacking for the Democratic Party.

But more importantly than noting the media's complicity in carrying a Democratic Party message (what's new with that?), Hillary Clinton must not be permitted to get off the hook she placed herself on when she played the race card. It is one of the low points of presidential politics in modern times. It is genuinely shocking. Honest commentators should make a big and continuing deal about it.

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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