Last week, Tocqueville directed me to two prominent articles from conservative outlets intensely critical of former governor of Arkansas and candidate for the Republican nomination for president, Mike Huckabee:

"A Tale of Two Candidates," by Quin Hillyer, from 10/24 via the American Spectator (article here)and "Another Man from Hope: Who is Mike Huckabee?" by John Fund. from today (10-26) via the Wall Street Journal (article here).

What are they saying?

Both pundits seem to worry that New York Times columnists and other mainstream liberal media types find Huckabee too easy to praise. Granted, that can be a troublesome sign. However, we (conservatives) can be too sensitive about this sort of thing. It can be self-defeating to discard every candidate who appeals to people outside our selective circle.

What else?

John Fund, who claims personal knowledge gained over the years as a friend of Mike, voices grave doubts as to the candidate's conservative authenticity. Fund notes that the Eagle Forum (on the conservative end of conservatism) claims Huckabee is a charming moderate but predicts his brand of glib evangelical conservatism is fraught with many of the same flaws as Bush-43-ism. Others fear Huckabee is soft on taxes, soft on Democrats, and soft-headed on environmental issues.

An aside: conflating internal Baptist politics with the larger question of fidelity to the conservative movement, Fund offers Huckabee's decision to bolt the Southern Baptist Convention during the 1980s as evidence of his lack of conviction and steadfastness as a political conservative. The internal Baptist fights do not equate with the struggles inside the political movement. In short, there are good people on both sides of the Baptist divide, and they almost always say horrible things about their erstwhile churchmen.

Quin Hilyer focuses on the personal, describing Huckabee as self-serving and:

"a guy with thin skin, a nasty vindictive streak, and a long history of imbroglios about questionable ethics."

Hilyer emphasizes the purportedly undemanding public morality of the candidate and his, evidently, politically awkward wife.

What does all this mean?

Tocqueville suggested last week: "Huckabee's rising above 10 percent in the polls has been taken by some as a signal to begin to focus on him." But he added: "I think that his support may prove temporary, because some of his views, immigration especially, won't stand up to much inspection."

We'll see. Huckabee is definitely in play right now. This is his moment. A whole avalanche of stories arrived this morning including an NPR feature and a new Rasmussen poll (the gold standard for Republicans), which shows Huckabee edging up ahead of Romney for a share of third place.

My take: No predictions. I am keeping my powder dry for now. As many of you know, I have been interested in Huckabee for some time. I was not sure if he would get an opportunity to competeóbut here it is. Realistically, no candidate for the presidency can ask for more than that.

A back story in all this (with all due respect to Charles Krauthammer and Bill Kristol) is the continuing dissatisfaction among GOP faithful with the top-tier candidates. When, how, and where will we find someone with whom we can feel comfortable?

One other thing to watch: if Huckabee emerges as a prime candidate, the looming struggle within the conservative movement between evangelicals, Burkean-Kirk-ites, and libertarians may play out in a spectacular and bloody battle. If it has to come (and it probably does), 2008 might offer the least-damaging moment.

To Huckabee or not to Huckabee? That may be the question (at least for the next few weeks).