Huckabee: The Candidate We’d Love Not to Hate

Well, “hate” is a bit strong; “suspect” would be better.
A few things I read yesterday jointly bring into focus the feeling that a large segment of the political right likely has about Mike Huckabee. The good comes from Mark Steyn:

Because Mike Huckabee mentioned “the birth of Christ”, he liberated the equivocal tentative finger-in-the-windy candidates and enabled them to utter the dread words “Merry Christmas.” Save, that is, for Senator Clinton, whose message ends with “Happy Holidays.” Thus, in a small way, the Governor shifted the goalposts. I can’t say I care for the Huckster policy-wise, but his instincts are very shrewd. There’s a big demographic out there (and certainly not confined to evangelical Protestants, or even believing Christians) that’s sick of the insipid generalities of the liberal establishment’s offensively inoffensive pseudo-religion. By declining to defer to it and suffering no ill effects, Huck demonstrated how weedy and insubstantial it is. A lot of cultural warriors will be heartened by that. And Huckabee’s insouciance — it ad-libbed his Christmas greeting in two takes — helps explain why so many of the better funded, supposed front-runners this campaign season are lying in the snowbank with a stunned look while the soundtrack plays “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.”

The frustration is that Huckabee’s uplift doesn’t come without some strings — chains, one might say. Kathryn Lopez sums it up:

Speaking like a man seeking to be president of evangelical America, not president of the United States, Huckabee told Meredith Vieira earlier this week: “There’s a sense in which all these years the evangelicals have been treated very kindly by the Republican party. They wanted us to be a part of it, and then one day, one of us actually runs and they say, ‘Oh, my gosh! Now they’re serious.'”
Huckabee, meanwhile, is leaving some non-evangelical conservatives wondering, “Oh, my gosh. Maybe they never wanted to be allied with us.” Huckabee is working right now, intentionally or not, on breaking down a winning coalition of religious conservatives.
When Pope John Paul II died in 2005, some of the most moving statements coming out of congressional offices were from evangelical conservatives who viewed him as an important leader in defending the sanctity of human life. Many of them had adopted his “culture of life” language and thinking. They saw him as an ally and were inspired by his leadership. They joined him, despite theological differences, in important cultural and political fights. It was and is a natural pairing. Mike Huckabee, who is not a conservative on all things, but is on social issues, should know that and treasure and protect and foster these alliances. He’s a riveting speaker who could rally social conservatives, at least to whip them up to fight another day. Instead, he’s executing a divide-and-conquer strategy.

Peggy Noonan gives some context:

This is some of Mr. Huckabee’s power. There’s the fact that he’s new, and the fact that Americans are in a funny historic moment: The lives they lead are good, and comfortable, but they sense deep down that the infrastructure of our good fortune is in many ways frail, that Citi may fall and Korea go crazy and some nut go kaboom. In such circumstances some would think a leader radically different–an outsider, a minister, a self proclaimed non-establishment type–might be an answer. …
Mr. Huckabee is clever. He puts forth his policies, such as they are, based on a faith-based understanding of public policy, and if you disagree with his policies, or take a hard shot at them, or at him, he suggests the reason is that you look down on evangelicals. This creates a new fissure in a party already riven by fissures. He has been accused by some in the conservative press of tearing the party apart, but it was being torn apart before he got on the scene. His rise is not a cause of collapse but an expression of it. …
Does Mr. Huckabee understand that his approach is making people uncomfortable? Does he see himself as divisive? He’s a bright man, so it’s hard to believe he doesn’t. But it’s working for him. It’s getting him his 30 points in Iowa in a crowded field.

When he first came on the scene, I had a strange urge to be able to say I supported him. But then one learns about the candidate. Why, when there’s a large void in the political landscape, does it seem so rarely to be filled by a person who allows a sigh of relief, rather than of disappointment.

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16 years ago

All I know is, after eight years of Commander Cuckoo Bananas in charge there is simply ZERO chance I will support another person who claims to talk to God and that’s how he makes his decisions.
If Fred Thompson came out today and said “I’ll consult Santa and the Tooth Fairy on all important foreign policy decisions,” he’d be laughed off the stage and out of the race. But Huckleberry substitutes God and Jesus and suddenly there are people who are lining up to support him, despite his clearly liberal-leanings and questionable activities as Governor of Arkansas.
The Dems are BEGGING us to nominate him because they can take him apart inside of a week.

Tom W
Tom W
16 years ago

Huckabee is another Jimmy Carter, albeit with an “R” after his name (RINO “R” not Republican “R”).

16 years ago

I was pretty impressed that Huck has made several appearances on Bill Maher’s show, and Maher seems to truly respect him as a rare conservative who does more than preach to the converted. I just wonder if that will eventually fuel conservative backlash against him.
I don’t agree with much of his agenda, but he seems like a much more personable guy than Romney. If he helps keep Romney from getting the nomination, it’s all good.

16 years ago

Assuming, and it’s a safe assumption, that my candidate Ron Paul loses, Mccain is the best candidate by default.
1. Thompson-walking Valium
2. Huckabee-pro-life, pro-war liberal.
3. Rudy-way too left, too many problems and where are those names of specific judges to be named to Sup. Ct.?
4. Romney-A lifelong hunter who saw his father marching with MLK. Enough said. His campaign message is ” I lied to the voters in my last election but I’m not lying to you”. Not a chance.
That leaves McCain by default. Horrible on illegals but enough gravitas to wipe the floor with The Bitch, George Jefferson or Hair Boy.
Rudy or Huckabee as VP. Maybe Mel Martinez.

16 years ago

” I don’t agree with much of his agenda, but he seems like a much more personable guy than Romney. If he helps keep Romney from getting the nomination, it’s all good.
Posted by: rhody at December 24, 2007 8:13 PM”
So who are you supporting? This isn’t American Idol, after all.

16 years ago

If I had to vote in a GOP primary. probably Ron Paul.

16 years ago

The only candidate who can out-Romney Romney on hypocrisy is Ron Paul.
Check this out from the Club for Growth…
“…Paul has recently embraced pork-barrel projects in direct contradiction to his vociferous opposition to unconstitutional appropriations by the federal government.”
Unfortunately, his stubborn idealism often takes Ron Paul further away from achieving the limited-government, pro-growth philosophy he advocates. This is certainly the case with school choice, free trade, tort reform, and entitlement reform, in which he votes against vital free trade agreements, competitive school choice initiatives, and tort reform proposals.
“While we give Ron Paul credit for his philosophical ideals, politicians have the responsibility of making progress, and often, Ron Paul votes against making progress because, in his mind, the progress is not perfect,” Mr. Toomey continued. “In these cases, although for very different reasons, Ron Paul is practically often aligned with the most left-wing Democrats, voting against important, albeit imperfect, pro-growth legislation. Ron Paul is, undoubtedly, ideologically committed to pro-growth limited-government policies, but his insistence on opposing all but the perfect means that under a Ron Paul presidency we might never get a chance to pursue the good too.”
This guy would out-gridlock Nancy Pelosi.
Social issues aside, I still think Rudy has the best record as a fiscal conservative and as a strong leader. To me national security and economic prosperity are paramount when it comes to chosing a leader. I hope he’ll bounce back.

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