Let’s be clear. Despite his soothing tones and his smooth delivery, Mike Huckabee is  playing the bigot card in the Republican Party with his playing to anti-Mormon prejudice in some GOP circles.

He alternates between the subtle, suggesting Romney’s religion should not be a factor (aimed at reminding voters of Mitt’s Mormon religion), and the crude, coming this Sunday in The New York Times.

Not that Mitt is an angel. He is dumping dirt all over Iowa, under-reported in the media, through e-mails, leaflets and phone calls, despite his perfectly coiffed,  perfectly combed, perfectly poll-tested and focus-grouped bromides. Make no mistake, Mitt is dishing the dirt in Iowa.

Meanwhile, the immigration hysteria plays to the darkest side of the Republican impulse, with some of the rhetoric descending into anti-foreigner jingoism and, at times, into a domestically divisive use of language and emotion that is offensive to a growing number of Hispanics.

Of course, much of the immigration debate is very legitimate, but also, not rarely, immigration debate degenerates into the worst instincts of modern Republicanism.

Rudy seems to be losing steam, but let’s not forget when he was mayor of New York he was a polarizing and divisive politician combining an authoritarian streak with a politics of division that pitted some New Yorkers against others and demonstrated a chronic disrespect to many in the black community.

Time to call the bluff and tell the truth.

The Republican Party is immersed in the tactics and style of George W. Bush, and the reason that Republicans debate who is the Christian leader, the alleged demerits of Mormons and immigration hysteria is that a high percentage of bigots will be participating in Republican caucuses and voting in Republican primaries.

Let’s call it what it is, the Republican bigot caucus, and the smooth and charming  Mike Huckabee is winning that dark primary within the larger primary of the party that has lost touch with the better angels of America.