Monday, December 17, 2007

The Abysmal Huckabee

UPDATE: From Iowa, the Caucus Cooler on the unusual consulate in Little Rock.

The abysmal Huckabee. On religion, foreign policy, education and the Clintons, with whom he has more in common than just inhabiting the Arkansas governor's mansion. Sunday's NY Times interview elicits these Huckabysms (sorry, I couldn't resist):
***I asked Huckabee, who describes himself as the only Republican candidate with a degree in theology, if he considered Mormonism a cult or a religion. ‘‘I think it’s a religion,’’ he said. ‘‘I really don’t know much about it.’’ I was about to jot down this piece of boilerplate when Huckabee surprised me with a question of his own: ‘‘Don’t Mormons,’’ he asked in an innocent voice, ‘‘believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?’’

***At lunch, when I asked him who influences his thinking on foreign affairs, he mentioned Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, and Frank Gaffney, a neoconservative and the founder of a research group called the Center for Security Policy. This is like taking travel advice from Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, but the governor seemed unaware of the incongruity.

***Huckabee was eager to separate himself from George W. Bush, who, he complained, often visited Arkansas without bothering to notify the governor’s office. ‘‘Clinton was much better at letting us know his plans and including us in his activities. He was always gracious and respectful.’’ In September, Clinton told George Stephanopoulos of ABC that Huckabee was the only Republican ‘‘dark horse that’s got any kind of chance.’’

Clinton’s goodwill stems, Huckabee believes, from Huckabee’s own restraint during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. ‘‘Obviously I was asked to comment. If I had been willing to criticize President Clinton, I could have made a cottage industry out of it. But I didn’t do that, I didn’t discuss it at all. And I think he was grateful for that.’’

*** In late November, Huckabee began running a short television ad called ‘‘Believe.’’ It starts with the candidate declaring, ‘‘Faith doesn’t just influence me, it really defines me.’’ As he speaks, the words ‘‘Christian Leader’’ flash across the screen. This ad was, of course, directed at the evangelical voters of Iowa. But it has also caught the attention of big-time figures in evangelical Christianity, many of whom have refrained from supporting Huckabee’s candidacy. This failure has puzzled and angered the governor. At the Olive Garden he spoke with bitterness about Richard Land, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. ‘‘Richard Land swoons for Fred Thompson,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t know what that’s about. For reasons I don’t fully understand, some of these Washington-based people forget why they are there. They make ‘electability’ their criterion. But I am a true soldier for the cause. If my own abandon me on the battlefield, it will have a chilling effect.’’

***From this power base, he ran for the Senate against the incumbent Dale Bumpers in 1992 and lost resoundingly. During that campaign, he advocated separating people with H.I.V./AIDS from the general population, telling the Associated Press that ‘‘we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague.’’ Questioned about this statement recently on ‘‘Fox News Sunday,’’ Huckabee said: ‘‘I don't run from it. I don't recant.’’

***Huckabee’s answer to his opponents on the fiscal right has been his Fair Tax proposal. The idea calls for abolishing the I.R.S. and all current federal taxes, including Social Security, Medicare and corporate and personal income taxes, and replacing them with an across-the-board 23 percent consumption tax.

Governor Huckabee promises that this plan would be ‘‘like waving a magic wand, releasing us from pain and unfairness.’’ Some reputable economists think the scheme is practicable. Many others regard it as fanciful. (For starters, it would require repealing the 16th Amendment to the Constitution.) In any case, the Fair Tax proposal is based on extremely complex projections.

Huckabee does not have an impressive grasp of its details. When I suggested, for example, that consumers might evade the tax simply by acquiring goods and services for cash on the black market, he seemed genuinely surprised.

***[Not a quote, but a partial list of gifts: (Quite impressive for someone who calls the Club for Growth the Club for Greed.]In 1999, the first year as governor that he was required by law to record their value, he listed 73 presents, including a pair of season football tickets from the University of Arkansas, a guitar from the band Lynyrd Skynyrd, fishing and hunting trips, a carved sculpture of Christ, a leather purse for his wife from Jennifer’s Dress Shop, a case of beef, department-store gift certificates and the use of a Chevrolet. He was also given honorary membership to Chenal Valley Country Club, the Little Rock Club, Pleasant Valley Country Club, the Country Club of Little Rock, Maumelle Bass Club and the Old Fishing Club. Huckabee received ‘‘legal services’’ from a Fayetteville attorney, Tom Mars, whom he later appointed director of the Arkansas State Police. Mars defended Huckabee in a suit charging that he had improperly claimed $70,000 worth of furniture, intended for the governor’s mansion, as a personal gift. (Huckabee eventually conceded the point, but the charge was later dropped.)

As lieutenant governor, Huckabee established a corporation, Action America, to which people donated more than $60,000. He used that money to pay himself for delivering inspirational speeches. Asked by the Arkansas news media to disclose the names of donors, Huckabee declined.
Here's some info on other donors and their role in his administration.

In a recent poll, Arkansans went first for Hillary for president, they see him as a "pale imitation of Bill Clinton".

And this is how he starts out his foreign policy essay:
The United States, as the world's only superpower, is less vulnerable to military defeat. But it is more vulnerable to the animosity of other countries. Much like a top high school student, if it is modest about its abilities and achievements, if it is generous in helping others, it is loved. But if it attempts to dominate others, it is despised. American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out.
Sophomoronic. Sounds like an old phone commercial. This is just another variation of the liberal multiculti-surrender-monkey mantra--"why do they hate us?" On Iraq, Huckabee sets great stock in the NY Times' version of an interview with disgruntled generals. On Iran:
The main difference between these two enemies is that al Qaeda is a movement that must be destroyed, whereas Iran is a nation that just has to be contained.
Well, Iran was the first Terror State, and has been for nearly 30 years. From storming our embassy and taking our diplomats hostage under the Carter administration, Iran has gone from strength to strength on the terror front--funding terrorists, attacking our troops, and steadily working to develop nuclear weapons, NIE or no. Now one of their student leaders in the embassy attack is the leader of their country--Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mr. Death to America himself. Yet Huckabee thinks sweet reason will prevail. HotAir features this quote from the essay:
Sun-tzu's ancient wisdom is relevant today: "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." [more on that quote here]Yet we have not had diplomatic relations with Iran in almost 30 years; the U.S. government usually communicates with the Iranian government through the Swiss embassy in Tehran. When one stops talking to a parent or a friend, differences cannot be resolved and relationships cannot move forward. The same is true for countries.
As simple as that. Who knew? Toss the Swiss and forge on. VDH on the conventionally ignorant:
“We need to talk to Iran.”

We always have had some sort of dialogue ongoing in a backchannel capacity with Iran. But mostly these negotiations over the last thirty years have centered on problems caused by Iranians: they take hostages — and want to discuss the price of their release; they send out terrorists — and want to discuss the price to call them off; they cheat on international accords — and want to discuss the price to comply.
On Russia Huckabee pretty much gives Putin a pass, describing him as a "staunch nationalist"-- this about a man who has deliberately taken his country back to dictatorship, jailing, institutionalizing (for forced psychiatric "treatments") and probably murdering opponents.

Huckabee takes potshots at the supposed "bunker mentality" of the Bush administration, which, in spite of a few missteps has kept us safe, I might add. And Huckabee ignores our efforts to work with the UN and enforce sanctions on Iraq ( a thankless task), our improved relations with India, our efforts at Mideast peace, multilateral success with North Korea, for the last couple of years letting the EU take the lead in talking Iran out of nukes (fruitless), and the advent of friendlier governments in Old Europe, which evidences at least a grudging respect by that electorate of the Bush foreign policy. He offers nothing new, except an emphasis on giving diplomacy a chance without the experience or probably the guts to back it up.

Our enemies would only be emboldened by this weak Huckabee horse, who is probably to the left of Hillary on foreign policy, right there with Travels with Barry Obama--they're the heirs to Jimmy Carter, Mr. Disaster.

He wants to get tough with Musharaf and bomb in Pakistan, but kowtow to Ahmadinejad. And he's much tougher on our ally Pakistan than he is on our near enemy Putin's Russia or our avowed enemy Iran--the classic liberal foreign policy error which leads to appeasement and encourages rogue behavior. Then there was the flip on Cuba. NRO calls him the Holiday Inn Express president on foreign policy.

Huckabee is a domestic disaster as well. Until recently, he was a total liberal on immigration, for giving in-state tuition to illegal immigrants, now he's swerved into overreaction with a Minuteman endorsement. He likes big government. He has a record of raising taxes repeatedly as governor of Arkansas. He is soft on crime, giving more than double the pardons issued by his last 3 predecessors combined, and two of them were Democrats! And he sought and received the endorsement of the liberal National Education Association in New Hampshire. Yes, it's true.

Laura Ingraham asks the Huckster about his NEA endorsement, and Mark Steyn on Huckabee's love of big government and the disastrous implications for religion, which should give his supporters pause. He has also claimed divine intervention on his behalf--I exaggerate only slightly--which gives the rest of us pause.

Latest--Huckabee caught lying about his degree. Another liar from Arkansas.

Finally there's this. Long-suffering, speaking for all of us. Bryan, HotAir:

Since 1992 I’ve wished that what happens in Arkansas would just stay in Arkansas. And that includes the state’s politicians as well as what they do, how they do it and who they do it for.
Another troubling Huckabee clemency. Will we see a Huckabee Checkers speech? Do we really want to watch this all play out? Do we really want a President Huckabee?

On pretty much every issue that matters in this campaign, Huckabee veers from the Republican and conservative position--into liberalism. And his divisive and manipulative use of religion is pure poison to the democratic process in America. He's grasping and deceptive. He's an abysmal candidate who will wreck the party. (the abyss gapes)

UPDATE: More from VDH on Huckabee's foreign policy.

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