Kentucky is strategically more important in a presidential race than Arkansas. Kentucky has more electoral votes than Arkansas and borders on some of the most important "swing" states like Ohio and Illinois.
Since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, every elected president has come from the South or the West. The perceived Republican front-runners have been Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney. Giuliani is from New York, which has not had a president since FDR, and Romney is from Massachusetts, which has not had a president since John Kennedy in 1960.
You don't meet many guys named Rudolph or Mitt in the states where recent presidents have come from. Names like Mike, Ernie, John or Jim-Bob are more popular.
Although John McCain has experience and is a courageous war hero from a western state, his campaign has had problems. Fred Thompson is showing that he is a much better politician in the movies than he is in real life.
I thought Thompson would fill the void for a southern candidate, but the charisma he shows as an actor is not coming through on the campaign trail.
Thus, there is an opening for a southern conservative, an opening that Mike Huckabee has taken advantage of.
It could be Huckabee, but it could have been the Ernie Fletcher that Kentuckians thought they elected in 2003.
It's easy to see how Fletcher could have been the presidential front-runner while Huckabee sits at home.
Fletcher's downfall as governor is traced back to what is termed a "merit system scandal" in his administration. Actually, it is simpler than that: Fletcher's downfall is tied to a personality flaw. He took criticism far too personally.
As the Godfather said, "it business, not personal." Fletcher must have missed the movie and the book. With Fletcher, criticism of his policy became a personal insult. The deliverer of the criticism became a personal enemy.
Thus, Fletcher had a lot of enemies.
If Fletcher had apologized for his "merit system scandal," it went have gone away in about 15 minutes. Instead, he burrowed in and waged a long and personal attack against the prosecutor. That strategy got Fletcher and a bunch of his cronies indicted.
Fletcher never got it. He held a pep rally when he pardoned his cronies. The average citizen doesn't think the issuance of gubernatorial pardons is something to cheer about. Fletcher's inability to grasp public perception, combined with a well-run campaign by his opponent, resulted in Fletcher getting walloped at the polls.
Getting stomped did not make Ernie more reflective. Every other governor, even the one who was caught in the extramarital affair, took time to meet with reporters and do a final "exit interview." Fletcher turned down some requests and granted others. I guess he is trying to "punish" reporters by refusing their interviews.
The reporters will be in Frankfort next week. Fletcher won't be. Fletcher had a chance to define his historic legacy and screwed it up.
Huckabee and Fletcher were both Baptist ministers, but Huckabee understood that part of the Bible about turning the other cheek. If Fletcher had studied that passage more closely, he might have been in the running for president instead of being unemployed.