Traditionally, a Hobson’s choice is a free choice in which only one option is offered, and one may refuse to take that option. The choice is therefore between taking the option or not taking it. The phrase is said to originate from Thomas Hobson (1544-1630), a livery stable owner at Cambridge, England who, in order to rotate the use of his horses, offered customers the choice of either taking the horse in the stall nearest the door-or taking none at all. It is analagous to the expression “my way or the highway”. Conservative Republicans seem to find themselves in just such a position. It appears that John McCain is “the horse in the stall nearest the door” and many conservatives are not taking it.
How else do you explain Huckabee winning in Kansas and Louisiana and running very close in Washington? How do you explain Romney winning the straw poll at the CPAC convention after he had already “suspended” his campaign? How do you explain the positions of Rush, Hannity and Ingram spewing anti-McCain rhetoric into the empty minds of the Stepford clones who tune in daily so they will know what to believe?
Finally, how do you explain this from the WSJ?
Mike Huckabee this week picked up the endorsement of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, who reiterated his statement Tuesday that he could not vote for presumptive Republican Presidential nominee John McCain even in November against a Democrat. Speaking of Senator McCain, the Christian broadcaster said “His record on the institution of the family and other conservative issues makes his candidacy a matter of conscience and concern for me.
Dobson’s choice is a Hobson’s choice for socially conservative Republicans. Some, like Dobson, may choose to stay home rather than vote for McCain. Many will end up voting for McCain, but with no enthusiasm. McCain has an uphill battle beating either Clinton or Obama under the best of circumstances but, without a fired-up Republican organization, his chances appear to be pretty slim.
Here in Idaho, Republican party leaders who endorsed Romney (i.e.Risch, Simpson and Luna) will probably pinch their noses and support McCain. Whether the more rabid social conservatives like Bryan Fisher will come around is doubtful. Over at the Statesman, Kevin Richert explores this issue in some depth. He thinks that the possibility of Idaho Republicans abandoning McCain and voting for a Democrat depends on who the candidate is on the Democratic side. If the Democrat is Hillary Clinton he thinks Idaho Republicans will either grudgingly vote for McCain or stay home. If the candidate is Obama, Richert thinks moderate Republicans and Independents are likely to vote Democratic.
Of course, at this point, all is speculation. Still, it is fun to watch if you are a Democrat. One of the more interesting national exit poll results I read this week stated that 84% of Democrats will vote for the Democratic candidate regardless of whether it is Obama or Clinton. Who would have imagined a divided Republican party and a unified Democratic party. I guess Democrats owe a big thanks to Bush- the great unifier!