Clash of the Titans LXIII: Huck a Conservative?

January 11, 2008, 11:30 am; posted by
Filed under Debate, Job, Steve  | 24 Comments

In this corner, arguing that Mike Huckabee is a conservative, is Job!

And in this corner, arguing that Mike Huckabee is not a conservative, is Steve!

Steve wants me to make the argument that Huckabee is a conservative. While I think this is as easy as arguing that the oceans are wet, Steve seems to think it will require a verbal kung fu of fantastic flips and acrobatic maneuvering to prove. Steve thinks this because he has his own vision of a conservative, and being a consistent Republican gives him some degree of clout in that theatre.

However, Steve is not the mold from which all conservatives are born, and it is ridiculous for him to state, unequivocally, that issues such as the pro-life movement (and Governor Huckabee’s lifelong support of it) don’t even begin to align the man from Hope with others who also call themselves “conservative.”

There is not a soul on the planet that I agree with on everything. I could probably even make a creepy, Freudian argument that I don’t even agree with myself on everything. From W to Huckabee to my own father, I don’t completely agree politically with anyone, although I support all those three with thorough veracity. This is because the greater cause of a person with a conservative worldview is the achievement of a more conservative world — and it is obscene and politically motivated to try to say that Mike Huckabee is not a bona fide conservative, with some of the best traits of that station.

First, Mike Huckabee is the most serious outspoken and unmuddied pro-life candidate in the history of the party. He never engages in double-speak, and harbors true disgust for the attitude towards the unborn in the country. He also is aggressively against homosexual unions and for pulling out of Iraq prematurely. He is against universal health care, which is fast becoming a pan-liberal stance, and he wants to get rid of the income tax — the great golden chalice of American fiscal conservatism.

The governor also makes his support for Israel, Taiwan and South Korea a central part of his campaign, and he makes his intention of further pressure on the Cuban dictatorship an integral part as well. Huckabee was the first governor in the country to have a license for a concealed weapon, and his lifetime membership in the NRA is just the beginning of his support for Second Amendment rights — arguably the most authentic and robust of all the candidates. Mr. Huckabee is also a supporter of capital punishment (a point I personally disagree on, but a traditionally conservative one) and is the only candidate who has ordered the execution of inmates.

Really though, Steve just wants to rail against Huckabee’s history on taxes and immigration. I throw out immigration immediately. The issue of illegals in this country is too new, too organic, to immediately find its issues falling into political categories. I, with my President, support the guest-worker program. Many conservatives do not. But the supporting of the integration of Mexican people and culture into our country does not yet have a political home.

True, Mike Huckabee did aggressively lobby to allow the children of illegals born in this country to qualify for state scholarships — but I think it’s sad I have to teach a civics class to explain that if you’re born here, no matter the circumstances that brought your fetus over the border, you are a United States citizen. And it’s perverse to punish those children for their parents’ crime.

On taxes it’s true that the Governor had to raise taxes at times during his term, in response to the demands of his liberal legislature, but the Governor also lowered taxes with every chance he got. I doubt anyone would make the argument that George H. W. Bush is not a conservative, although he himself raised taxes as President. Sometimes, regrettably, tax-raising is a fact of federal life. And frankly, it can require a certain brand of bravery to do it.

But, as Steve asks us to do with Romney’s newfound social conservatism, we should dismiss the past and accept the candidate on what he currently runs on, and Huckabee runs on a tax-cutting platform. By every spoken and stated stance he takes, Governor Mike Huckabee is a true blue social and fiscal conservative and it’s painfully laughable that anyone should think otherwise.

This is not a political website; it is a website about everything, from the perspective of writers and thinkers who seek to follow the example of Jesus Christ. Several of us, and many more of you, don’t care much about politics, and so I try to ensure you won’t be overwhelmed by a flood of political coverage here. But some of the most interesting issues to me (and maybe you) are those bearing on faith. When Mike Huckabee began to take off, largely on an appeal to evangelical Christians, I watched closely. I did a lot of research on the man, what he believes, what he’s done, what he stands for. And I am left to conclude one thing.

Mike Huckabee is not a full-spectrum conservative.

Maybe you aren’t either! If not, this debate isn’t really that relevant. You might find that the governor’s beliefs match up well with your own, and if so, great! For Mike, those include a desire to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and bring al-Qaeda prisoners into the United States, granting them full constitutional rights and access to our courts — oh, and a promise to sign a federal ban on smoking in all public places, Constitution be darned! And I almost forgot how he freed thousands of prisoners and took hundreds of thousands of dollars in questionable gifts!

Ahh, post-modern conservatism.

I need to make an admission, though. On social issues, to his great credit, Mike Huckabee is a consistent conservative. He is a friend of life and I will not minimize that for one second. But there are three legs to the conservative coalition, three parts to its whole. Gov. Huckabee possesses only one of those legs, the one, in fact, that the president affects the least. And if you’ve ever had the misfortune to sit on a one-legged stool, you know it won’t hold you up for long — even if it has a winning wooden smile and proudly boasts its status as a “Christian stool.”

One of those legs is foreign policy. Gov. Huckabee wrote, in an article he submitted as part of a series in Foreign Affairs, that our nation has been a cocky high school student that “dominates others” around the world. Willfully ignoring the actual history of attempts to gain UN cooperation that predated the Iraq invasion, he went on: “The Bush administration’s arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad.”

When asked about the biggest foreign policy news during the campaign season — the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran — Huckabee was ignorant and clueless. Later, his excuse for cluelessness pointed the finger, again, at our sitting commander-in-chief: “President Bush didn’t read it for four years; I don’t know why I should read it in four hours.” Condoleeza Rice finally had to smack him down with the truth.

Which party are you in again, Huck? In these dangerous times, I don’t want a candidate who doesn’t know what he’s talking about in Iran or Pakistan, and can’t figure out who his foreign policy advisors are, probably because he doesn’t have any to speak of.

The third leg is fiscal conservatism. Job doesn’t mention that the results of Huck lowering taxes “every chance he got” was a net tax INCREASE of $505.1 million. And he wasn’t always “forced” to do it either — that link recounts his requests for tax increases. But now he misrepresents his record. Fiscal conservativism relies on cutting taxes whenever appropriate, and lowering spending whenever possible. That’s not Mike; under him, state spending increased 65.3% from 1996 to 2004, three times the rate of inflation.

It is not BRAVE to raise taxes, as Job improbably argues to my left (in so many ways). It is liberal — just like Huckabee’s endless rhetoric bloviating against CEOs and businesses. I sense a pattern. And his hopeless plan to replace the income tax with a national sales tax is not conservative. It’s just crazy.

Conservatives share a certain mindset — the underlying principles that have served the movement for years, including respect for life, belief in smaller government and a proper understanding of the Constitution and liberty. Mike Huckabee has the first principle in spades. But in place of the other two, he has something else entirely — a desire to have government solve our problems. This is the antithesis of conservatism. And it’s not at all “obscene” to point that out.



24 Comments to “Clash of the Titans LXIII: Huck a Conservative?”

  1. Steve on January 11th, 2008 12:27 pm

    And, yes, Job, I would make the argument that George H.W. Bush was similarly not a conservative. He was considerably more moderate than Ronald Reagan, which his tax increases, among other things, proved.

    My hope for Huckabee is that he takes his considerable compassion and obvious gift of communication on a tour of evangelical churches — not to seek votes, but to spread his message of caring for the poor and disenfranchised, and encouragement to live healthier lives, all of which seems to spring from his faith. I don’t have a problem with what motivates Mike Huckabee. I have a problem with the way he wants to impose it — even when it seems ‘compassionate’ — through government action.

  2. mc-b on January 11th, 2008 3:14 pm

    Some might think that calling Mike Huckabee a “Christian stool” is offensive. I just think it’s funny.

    It’s like I’m five.

  3. Steve on January 11th, 2008 3:28 pm

    What I find offensive is the thought that anyone who talks about Jesus with a big smile on his face can fool Christians into ignoring whatever else he says and does. I feel like I’m trying to talk people out of a cult.

  4. Steve on January 11th, 2008 4:36 pm

    Okay, this is my last comment.

    Take a look at this. Last night Thompson told the truth, as I do, about Huckabee’s record, and Huckabee said:

    “Fred needs some Metamucil. I think it would help a lot if he gets some.”

    Unbelievable. Hit with the facts of his record, Huck responds with an offensive personal attack. Love it. He’s just what we need.

  5. David on January 11th, 2008 4:52 pm

    Where’s the Koolaid! I’m in!!

  6. David on January 11th, 2008 4:54 pm

    Hey that Koolaid remark was supposed to follow the cult remark not the metimucil remark.

  7. James' on January 11th, 2008 11:14 pm

    Steve, that’s bull. I was watching the debate, when Thompson railled on Huckabee with “the truth” Huckabee’s response was great and he didn’t say anything about Metamucil either, maybe in some other interview he joked about that but I’m sure he also gave a reasonable response like he did at the debate.

    He pointed out that Ronald Reagan raised taxes as Governer in California in his first term, but he still considers him a Conservative. If you take Rich Romney for his word about what he will do about abortion and judges, why not Huckabee on taxes?


  8. Djere on January 11th, 2008 11:33 pm

    Clearly, Fred Thompson needs more air-time.

  9. Djere on January 11th, 2008 11:37 pm

    Mike Huckabee is a total *expletive deleted*

    He’s as legit as that plastic-smiled turd Joel Osteen, only his pharisaical scheme for global domination is to become president, not to write crappy self-help books.

  10. Djere on January 11th, 2008 11:37 pm

    Maybe I shouldn’t post when I’m this tired…

  11. Steve on January 11th, 2008 11:49 pm

    James, it wasn’t at the debate, it was on some show today. All of it is mentioned in that page I linked to. Djere just posted the link.

    I don’t want to have to “trust” someone who has consistently governed with big government principles to suddenly change their way. He sees government as the solution. I don’t.

  12. Marcus Greylight on January 12th, 2008 10:16 am

    As an independent voter, I enjoy seeing more moderate candidates. I find myself in the awkward position of being (extremely) conservative on social issues and yet a bit left of center in other places. I’m not the kind of person that could ever be a staunch, party-line voter… and so I appreciate someone like Huckabee (and I at least admire the chutzpah of a Ron Paul) for his willingness to deviate from the talking-point objectives of the party. I’m not sure that this will make them palatable to the rest of the party, though.

    For me the social issues will always take center stage (even if the President has the least control over them). I just cannot, for instance, justify using my civic power to promote someone who is so inherently twisted as to promote abortion. I am often chided by my more liberal friends for basing my vote on one “small issue” that is likely “irrelevant tot he Presidency.” Guess I do not see millions and millions of unprovoked murders as “small.” So for this reason I am never able to vote for the Democrats. For other reasons I am often reluctant to vote for Republicans. So, depending on the election, I sometimes end up being one of those fellas who “throws his vote away” because he cannot, in good conscience, vote for one of the two big candidates.

    Until we can move beyond this polarizing two-party thing, I applaud those who seek nominations without goose stepping to party ideology.

  13. Steve on January 12th, 2008 10:40 am

    Very true. So given your positions, it could make a lot of sense for you to consider Huckabee. Nothing wrong there. But that doesn’t make Huckabee a conservative, as the poll asked…

  14. David on January 12th, 2008 2:36 pm

    If I understand the terms, In a broad Historical sense, all Liberal and Conservative denote are the two forces who are either seeking change (Liberals) or defending the status quo (Conservatives) in a given society. There are some things that neeed to change and there are other things that need to be protected. Within any culture the terms are going to take on different nuances of meaning and I have never felt that I’m completely either one, just a Christian looking for someone who best represents my views on social issues.

    The conservatives, so far as they respect the life of the unborn and resist the spirit of this age pushing everyone to accept homosexuality as normal, are a good fit for me. When it comes to immigration and the way we are treating the human beings at Gitmo I side with the Liberals. I have made it plain before that I do not believe that we are supposed to make America a Christian nation, but I do think that we should influence what this nation does as much as we can and I don’t think torture and the suspension of basic human rights is what we should be doing. We are involved in things that we self righteously rebuke other nations for. We’ve galloped all over the world telling China and Russia (and any other “bad” nations that would listen) that if they wanted to join the civilized world they would have to recognize basic human rights and yet we think when it suits us we can suspend them. Bull crap.

    And with immigration, the Bible says “Thou shalt not oppress the stranger that lives among you, for you yourselves were also strangers”. Anybody here except the American Indians came from someplace else. We came as refugees, immigrants and half starved vagrants. Some of us came legally and some illegally. It’s always been that way here we just accept the WASPS among us because they’ve been here so long and they are us. I wonder how many of us have ancestors who didn’t do all the paperwork to be here legally. In fact they called Italians WOP’S Because so many of them showed up WITH OUT PAPERS and had WOP stamped on their documents.

    And as far as the Constitution I only acknowlegde one document that is infallible, unchangeable and inerrant and that is the Bible. The Constitution works for us right now but in the past godly nations have been Republics, Monarchies, Dictatorships, Democracies, Oligarchies; hey, whatever works. I don’t for a moment buy into the myth held by some that we by our wonderful wisdom have stumbled onto the only God-sanctioned way to run a nation. God set us up because it pleased him and it suited his purposes, when it has run it’s course, If the Lord tarries, he’ll do whatever pleases him next. I’m not here to defefend truth, justice and the American way, I’m here to seek God and find out what his will is for my life. Oh, and be a witness and not oppress the strangers and exiles among us because i know I was one.

  15. James' on January 12th, 2008 11:01 pm

    Have a look at what was said at the debate then.


  16. Steve on January 13th, 2008 12:09 pm

    I purposefully didn’t address immigration (which we’ll deal with later) because I knew that Job has a more moderate view himself, and that Huckabee has actually moved away from it a lot in his speeches.

    But as for Guantanamo Bay, I would suggest that perhaps what you have been told about the way people are treated there is incorrect. People are not being tortured or mistreated as a matter of course; in fact, we give them a copy of their scriptures, three meals a day, comfortable beds, etc. etc.

    The question of our involvement in torture elsewhere, whether in the interest of getting vital information or not, is another question entirely…

  17. Steve on January 13th, 2008 12:27 pm

    I should make one more thing clearer — what annoys me most about Huckabee are his contentions that he’s being attacked because the party doesn’t want an evangelical in charge. Meanwhile, he’s the one basically rejecting the other parts of the Reagan coalition.

  18. Job on January 13th, 2008 7:22 pm

    Steve, I think your argument is made most naked by the pains you go through to so elaborately define this clash. I remember being asked to make the argument that Huckabee was a conservative which I proved was more than easy. Yet you describe it as a “full-spectrum conservative” which basically implies to me a “a conservative that agrees wholly and unfalteringly with Steve Maxon”. Who’s spectrum are we debating? Are you pinch-hitting for Webster here?

    I don’t care who you pony up to the gate, every “conservative” is not perfectly alike and I find your choice in candidates unsettlingly legalistic. Romney might have the polished, practiced edge of everything you deem conservative, but where – honestly now – is the soul? His is not a cause but a thirst for dynastic quenching. I want Huckabee, a true champion for the causes I hold most dear. Taxes, frankly, I can look past somewhat. Overturning Roe v. Wade? Not so much.

    Huckabee may not be your full-spectered conversative, but you must agree he’s the most impassioned of the lot for the eternal issues.

    Yeah yeah yeah. We’re not electing a national pastor, but someone to cut taxes. yada yada yada.

  19. Steve on January 13th, 2008 7:40 pm

    I think your comment perfectly defines Huckabee’s popularity among evangelicals. Tired of candidates who say many of the right things but lack the intangible “soul,” so many have stampeded to back a man who is indeed, quite possibly, “the most impassioned of the lot” when it comes to the issues we hold most dear.

    But my point remains. Modern American conservatism consists of more than a commitment to defending the unborn — as important as that is. You say that overturning Roe is important to you, and you know that the only way that can happen is through the nomination of strict constructionist judges. Yet you seek to nominate a candidate who does not appeal to two-thirds of the Republican base, virtually ensuring that his selection as a candidate will result in the election of Obama or Clinton. Goodbye, nose. Take that, face.

    This has nothing to do with whether Huckabee agrees with me, personally. It has to do with just how variant many of his views are from the rest of the party he seeks to lead — and more than that, the cavalier way he dismisses the ‘Reagan coalition’ that has served us so well for almost 30 years.

  20. Job on January 13th, 2008 8:13 pm

    Officially over-dramatized.

  21. David on January 14th, 2008 9:12 am

    It was fun watching the debate last night and seeing how many times each guy used Reagan’s name. Everyone wants to be the “Son of Reagan”. I actually like that about Huckabee. He’s willing to move on and not be one of several guys running with a Ronald Reagan mask on. Reagan brought this nation back from the brink of liberal insanity but what he did doesn’t need to be cast into stone. He’s gone—great man that he was—now lets move on and define our own times.

  22. Steve on January 14th, 2008 10:02 am

    But he wants to “move on” to a spiritualized version of the Democratic party, with no real differences left concerning the role of government in our lives!! We nominate him, we lose McGovern-style, and all y’all’s willingness to ‘move on’ from success leaves social conservatives marginalized.

  23. Job on January 14th, 2008 10:38 am

    Again, your assertion on taxes is bit uninformed and I’ve begun to think it’s willful on your part. He is running as a fiscal conservative you just simply don’t believe him. Mitt Romney is running as a social conservative and I just simply don’t believe him. I just assign greater weight to one issue than the other. You are marginalizing the right when you term “success” as the selling out of our better instincts and electing a Mormon with very a very dodgy and – c’mon now Steve – suspect recent shift to the right. To paraphrase the very old and walking-death-looking John McCain “I’d rather lose an election than lose our soul.”

  24. Steve on January 14th, 2008 10:45 am

    Why do you constantly bring up Mitt Romney? We’re not arguing about him here, and I’m not trying to convince you in this clash that he’s the most conservative choice. You can choose any candidate you want, for whatever reason you want, but don’t misrepresent my argument based on your own prejudices. This choice is not between Huckabee and Romney.

    I define success as the two-time election of George W. Bush, thanks to a coalition of social, fiscal, and foreign policy conservatives. You apparently would rather stake the future of this country on the nomination of a man who, I repeat, is utterly unacceptable to 2/3 of that coalition. What a noble and holy victory that will be. You can go to church and celebrate how you finally stuck it to the rest of your allies — now they have to respect social conservatives! We proved we were a force to be reckoned with!

    Look up Pyrrhic victory, Job. That’s what you want. Me, I think it’s pretty dumb.

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