In response to James Dobson's repeated statements, including yesterday's, that he would not under any circumstances vote for John McCain, Mike Huckabee retorted this morning that Dobson, Rush Limbaugh and others who are slamming McCain are egomaniacal self-promoters. (OK, I'm paraphrasing, but that's the gist, and really, who could disagree?) About anyone who would sit out the general election rather than vote for McCain, Huckabee said, "If they say that, then that just proves something: They're more about themselves than they are the cause. Because there's no way that a true conservative would vote for Hillary Clinton."

What does Huckabee know that most of America doesn't know? Could it be that he has a bevy of conservative bible-thumping leaders with big mailing lists on his side, including some passing out voter guides that are largely supportive of his candidacy, and that most Christian right foot soldiers don't care whether Dobson endorses any of the candidates? Or is this just another example of that wonderful Lack-o'-Hucka-Tact, which he'll later claim, oh, gosh, that wasn't what I meant at all? Like when he said last year that religious right leaders are "more intoxicated with power than principle" and then denied he was talking about them?

A little bit of both, of course. Even back in October, at the Values Voters Summit where Dobson was being honored for his years of service to the cause of turning the clocks back to the Dark Ages, I could not find a single person to tell me that Dobson's endorsement or lack thereof mattered to their decision-making. Who did they like? Huckabee. (And Duncan Hunter, but anyway.) Huckabee knows he's got issues with the GOP and the conservative movement, but he also knows Dobson isn't essential. Helpful, but not essential. So for weird conservative protocol, Republicans (except Dick Armey) make the pilgrimage to Oz Colorado Springs to try to receive Dobson's blessing. McCain has already made nice with Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, when he was still alive, so will he do it with Dobson?

And if you're keeping tabs on who likes whom, and who predicts what, if Karl Rove said it, chances are it's utterly false.

--Sarah Posner

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