The 2012 US presidential election may seem like a long way off, but unlike professional sports, there is never an off-season in American politics. So it should hardly come as a surprise that even though not a single Republican has yet declared his/her intention to take on Barack Obama, various media outlets have already begun to put together a debate schedule for the next two years.
Last Friday, CNN announced it was teaming up with the Tea Party Express to hold a debate for Republican primary candidates in September 2011. And Fox News proclaimed its intention to convene two Republican debates, with the first to be held in August.
That's right – there may not be any official candidates just yet, but why should such details get in the way of all the fun?
To the outside observer, all this brewing political activity might appear premature. After all, wasn't the midterm congressional election just last month? Is it really necessary to begin planning for the next round of balloting? The answer, in short, is yes.
Given the highly competitive, moneyintensive, grueling nationwide campaign that the candidates inevitably face, it is only natural that the process itself has become increasingly protracted and drawn out. As a result, within the next few months, the slate of potential candidates will rapidly begin to take shape.
For pro-Israel activists and supporters, the 2012 vote cannot possibly come too soon. Two years of Obama's stumbling and bumbling approach to the Middle East, and his heavy-handed treatment of the Jewish state, have disabused many American Jews of any illusions they may have had about his administration. With baited breath, they await the arrival of someone – anyone! – who will replace the inept incompetent-in-chief in the White House.
WITH THAT in mind, it is essential that American Jews begin to examine the prospective field of Republican candidates now, and take the measure of those who might very well inherit the mantle of the presidency. They need to be prepared to get behind a candidate early and stick with him, if only to ensure that the current administration remains a one-term, passing phenomenon.
Naturally, a lot of names are being tossed around, from former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. For the most part, they all have strong pro-Israel credentials, and many have consistently said the right things that will appeal to the Jewish vote.
But I believe there is one potential candidate who stands out above all the rest, both as an advocate for Israel and a friend of the Jewish people, and that is Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and 2008 presidential contender.
I have never met the man, nor do I have any vested interest in saying this, but his record of support for the Jewish state is simply remarkable and, quite frankly, it speaks for itself. In August of last year, when the Obama administration was busy twisting Israel's arm to stop Jews from "settling" in Jerusalem, Huckabee spoke out forcefully on the issue.
"My question," he told reporters while on a visit to Israel's capital, "is how would the government of the United States feel if Prime Minister Netanyahu began to dictate which people could live in the Bronx, which ones could live in Manhattan, and which could live in Queens. I'm not sure where we would get the authority to demand of the Israelis what they should do in their own country."How many other American politicians speak so eloquently and earnestly in our defense?
On another occasion, Huckabee criticized Obama for his "policies that put more pressure on Israelis building bedrooms in settlements than Iran building bombs."
He also backed Israel's handling of the Gaza flotilla incident, and has even cast doubt on the viability of the two-state solution, telling Time magazine last year that it is "inconceivable" that "two sovereign governments would control the very same piece of real estate."
As the host of a popular Fox News program, Huckabee regularly heaps praise on the Jewish state, providing a refreshing alternative to the steady stream of criticism that runs through much of the mainstream press.
But he is far more than just a friend from afar. Huckabee has been here more than a dozen times, which is more than can be said for most American Jews.
And he doesn't just visit – he brings others here too, leading groups on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Six months ago, he brought 160 Evangelical Christians together with singer Pat Boone, and on his website he is already promoting another trip planned for early next year.
Recent stories in the press have suggested that Huckabee is currently weighing his options as he considers the possibility of launching another campaign.
After looking at his record and sizing him up from a distance, all I can say is: Run, Huck, run! Some American Jews shy away from the idea of supporting a former Baptist preacher whose pro-Israel beliefs are informed by his faith and attachment to the Bible. They feel threatened by Evangelical Christians and suspicious of their motives. But it is time to get over that psychological hurdle once and for all and recognize a true friend who stands with us through thick and thin.
And when it comes to Mike Huckabee, they just don't get any better than this.