Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thinking About The Perpetually-Heating Criticism Of Huckabee

I got an email from a friend today:

Huck has been getting hammered on liberal behavior when it comes to illegals and taxes based on what he has said and done. What do you say to that.

Of course, the criticisms get worse and probably will continue to until Huckabee wins or loses. Why might that be? Lacking a crystal ball, here are my speculations.


I have written about the fact that this criticism comes not from liberals, but from conservatives. Of course, I understand it coming from Republican competitors and their supporters. But, what is bothersome is when it comes from ostensibly conservative sources. The fact that it comes from acknowledged smart people highlights to me that it is frantic grasping at everything but the kitchen sink by people who otherwise would know better than what they are saying. So, why are they so agitated?

I’ve only come up with a few possible factors, which I’ll list and qualify. But first, anyone who knows me might ask why I would support such a supposed conservative infidel? I wrote about this in my last post: If I thought these accusations were valid, I wound not support him. But, I don’t think they are true or totally sincere. Some of these conservatives say that once Republicans get informed about what Huckabee is really about, his support will fall. But, the fact is that 99.9% or more of even the active and engaged Republicans are not as informed about Huckabee, his competitors, and even conservatism in general, as I am. Am I just stupid? Well, I guess people will decide for themselves. If so, I have read a lot on all sides of many questions, for nothing.

Let me emphasize that a lot of this criticism comes from people who are certainly smart enough and should be informed enough, not to throw out the things that they are. So, I would ask anyone who says or repeats these things what, specifically, they are referring to relative to immigration and taxes; and I hope we can dismiss the nakedly politically motivated assertions of Romney and Thompson. Speaking of that, consider this: why do I not support Romney, Thompson, Giuliani, or McCain? In the simplest terms: because they are not conservative. They have some propensities in a conservative direction. But, they have no clear view of the proper role of government at its various levels and about human nature, in general. That is clear with respect to every one of those I mentioned. I’m not mad at them, personally. You aren’t mad at someone for their incapacities. I am not near in the position that I can determine intentions. But, I can say that there is a problem either with intentions or perceptions and the facilities to form them. As I have said before, if they are serious, I don’t want these incompetents as chief executive charged with defending American principle, anymore than I would hire an honest carpenter to perform surgery.

So, set aside the politicians. What about the conservative writers? They are saying things that literate people (and some of them are very literate) are plenty able to find invalidating information about. If you know what you are talking about, you know that the charges are inaccurate and/or unfair. And again, the suggestion of insincerity is underscored by the fact that many of these are vested in other candidates, all of whom as I said, are eminently vulnerable to criticism on conservative grounds. So, what might be an unspoken motivation for these criticisms?

First, I’ll mention the most nakedly visceral possibility: There are a few public observers who simply have a sentimental reaction to the fact that they do not see enough fury from Huckabee about things that they are themselves all in knots about. That’s why it’s easy to fall for the immigration criticism. If you look at Huckabee’s immigration plan (at his website), I see nothing to object to: immigrants should leave the country within 4 months and get in line for legal entry, if they want to come back.

But!: the process for legal entry should be streamlined for people who plainly want to be law-abiding and work. And in Arkansas, he supported a failed proposal to allow children of illegal immigrants who have attended Arkansas public schools for years, to apply for a merit scholarship program IF they are drug-free and apply to become citizens. Huckabee said 1) that we shouldn’t punish children for the crime of a parent, and 2) we should want them to become productive tax-paying citizens rather than being long-term low-wage potential tax-takers.

I entirely agree with that. But for some people whose anger is not just with the legal chaos that government has allowed, but extends to people who like ordinary human beings have exploited chaos to provide for themselves and their families. And, that does extend to the children of illegal immigrants. And, they often don’t want them in the country, under any circumstances: Tom Tancredo proposed a moratorium on legal immigration, which is basically to redefine America. All you can do is state what you believe. Mike Huckabee says, “I’m a conservative, but I’m not mad at anybody about it.” There are some people who could say, “I’m a conservative, and I’m mad as hell at a whole lot of people!” (and I’m not gonna take it, anymore!)

Ann Coulter for instance, though she is bright and her books are usually well-documented (never mind the snide and provocative comments) has blistered Huckabee about even accommodating statements toward people who disagree, previously criticizing Huckabee’s comments about immigration, among other things. Last night she took another tack: like Alan Keyes the night before, she credited Huckabee on things like abortion. But then, flipping the liberal criticism about not believing in evolution, she suggested he was “backing down” because when pressed in a debate, Huckabee said, “I don’t know how God did it…I wasn’t there. But, I believe that God did create.” Coulter’s last book heavily criticized the lack of evidence of the case for evolution, and I agree with her. But, I think Huckabee is absolutely right that that argument is only a distraction and has nothing to do with the business of being President of The United States. Ann Coulter likes Duncan Hunter: a serious and decent guy, last polled at 1% in Iowa and between that and nil, elsewhere.

Now, let’s consider these other people like Robert Novak, George Will (who attacked again, today), Charles Krauthammer, Rich Lowry, Jonah Goldberg, Fred Barnes and others. For one thing, I think a lot of wealthy people don’t like The Fair Tax that Huckabee is proposing. They are doing fine with accountants writing off most of the luxuries in their life, thank you very much. Under The Fair Tax, they will pay for everything new that they or their businesses purchase, from paper clips to vehicles for road, water, or air or for real estate and developments. The net effect of all of those tax write-offs is to shift the tax burden toward less wealthy Americans: people accustomed to being special, may not be happy about a system being “fair.”

But larger than that, and this is admittedly speculation encouraged by what seems to be hollow and unnecessary criticism, I think a lot of establishment people are just ill-at-ease with someone at the head of their party who is an undaunted evangelical Christian: “EEEuuuww!” To quote Frank Costanza: “This guy…he’s not my kinda guy!” They’d prefer a flip-flopping and posturing plastic man like Romney, a social liberal Mario-Cuomo-endorsing cosmopolitan who doesn’t understand bedrock American principle like Giuliani, or a muddled-headed infidel to constitutional principle like McCain or Thompson. “Evangelical Christians are great for delivering us votes, but not for sitting at the head of our tables: Ick!”

This noise gets ever more frantic, the longer Huckabee sits at the top of the polls. On the blogs of course, particularly the viscerally conservative ones, you read al the people who in their zeal have picked up and run with these charges about Huckabee’s supposed fiscal liberalism and illegal immigration friendliness. I ask as a lifelong conservative and intense observer of the process, “Never mind what you’ve HEARD. Can you tell me what you have heard Mike Huckabee SAY that tells you that he favors illegal immigration, or even amnesty or sanctuary? Or why would you think that he just loves to spend government money without constraint and would do so as an American President?”

Mike Huckabee has opposed amnesty and sanctuaries all along. He opposed the “comprehensive” immigration bill that would have defined a path to citizenship for illegal aliens (amnesty with a slap on the wrist) and which gave John McCain’s campaign a huge blow earlier this year. And on taxes, Mike Huckabee governed a state with a Democrat legislature and a constitutionally mandated balanced budget. At one budget shortfall, he consented to the legislature’s choice of tax hikes to balance the budget AFTER the legislature had rejected spending cuts. The Club for Growth’s mercenary attack-Huckabee campaign made an ad of this special balance-the-budget session of the legislature, splicing together Huckabee’s listing of the tax options left available, to make it appear that Huckabee was inviting taxes.

Huckabee signed on early to the no-tax pledge of Americans for Tax Reform. He correctly says the federal government doesn’t need more money. And unlike his relative dullard competitors for the Republican nomination, Huckabee perfectly well understands and respects the 10th Amendment distinction of federal and state jurisdiction and power, and cites it, frequently. That’s why I suspect that there is underlying motivation: many of these critics are not so silly and incompetent as to not understand these facts. I think their words are a way to try to spook conservatives from a cultural interloper.

Here’s what Huckabee is “guilty” of. He doesn’t let differences of opinion drive him to either scorn or to neglect of a problem because he can’t unilaterally impose the solution. And yes, he would use the bully pulpit of the president to verbally admonish Americans to strive for morally prudent behavior in their commercial operations (from this is derived criticism of his supposed disrespect of free markets), and he would ask foreign imports to meet basic American standards of safety (from this arises criticisms of his supposed disrespect of free trade) If you prefer spite and dysfunction, then yes, perhaps he isn’t the candidate for you.


stop hillary! said...


Huckabee cannot win the election. Everyone should know this. What good is his Evangelical background going to do for us Evangelicals when he loses to Hillary in November?

Outside of the Christian Right Huckabee is viewed as yet another Christian from the South with nothing else behind him. I like huckabee but Americans view him as Bush 2.0 and there is NO way Americans are about to put another Bush into office right now.


Larry said...

stop hillary

I think the premise is false and emphatically so. Giuliani will not have the energy of the base in his campaign (it doesn't look like he's going to win, anyway)

Many think that the plastic chameleon Romney would get killed in the general, and I agree.

The best two Republican candidates for the general election would be McCain, who might pull Independents, and Huckabee, who takes the legs out from under perhaps the biggest Democratic emotional motivation: that Republicans are rich guys who only care about rich guys and not about the concerns of ordinary people

Stephen R. Maloney said...

I wrote a column today with two parts, one about John McCain, the other about Mike Huckabee's criticism of Jamie Spears, who is pregnant at age 16. Mike called the pregnancy a "tragedy," which is a rather wild misuse of that word. He then apparently complimented Miss Spears on not choosing to have an abortion. I heard that Nikolodeon was planning to have a special (with Linda Ellerbee) on teen pregnancy. I wish Mike had suggested something like that approach, rather than being the clueless S. Baptist minister we all have come to know and love. I've been on the scene with several teen pregnancies (including two in my own family) and the very last thing you say is that being pregnant is a 'tragedy." Frankly, most young people don't regard it as a tragedy but more like a blessing from God. I mean, is it or isn't it? Characterizing a teen pregnancy or any kind of pregnancy as some awful, tragic event is a great way to induce women to have an abortion. When a woman (or a child) is pregnant, the "horse" has left the barn, and decent people (even Baptist ministers) have to move into a supportive role. If Mike is this easily horrified by something that happens 800,000 times per year (teen pregnancies), he needs an introduction to reality. Parents and friends who tell pregnant children that it will be the ruination of their lives are a major cause of abortion in the U.S. Pregnancy is NOT a tragedy. Wake up, Mike. Comments always welcome.

steve maloney

Larry said...


Given the recent dramatic shift in your tone (which just happens to have coincided with Huckabee's ascent to the top of the polls and Giuliani's slide from a discernible path to the nomiination), it's easy to suppose that you just might be full of it.

Otherwise, I might have wasted time at marvelling at the vivid delusions that seem to pervade your brain, of which this would just be the last in a long line. I'm not aware of anyone else who has or might imagine that Huckabee referred to any tragedy other than tha the child was not conceived in a committed marriage and might live with an absent father.

On the other hand, you're about the right age: maybe you are still having acid flashbacks. Or do you still keep a stash in a corner of you closet?

Anonymous said...

Your article sums up exactly why I am supporting Mike Huckabee for President. I am tired of our country being torn apart by the different factions and nothing being done about the problems our country is facing. We need someone like Huckabee to bring the bickering to a halt and start fixing the problems. All of the other candidates will just be a continuation of the status quo.


Larry said...

myviewmytake :

I was on another Huckabee blog today, talking about this subject, and how much frustration there was with The Republican establishment with...I hate to use liberal epithets...but cultural bigotry describes what it is. I said that it would be quite a rebuke to the Republican establishment, which has attacked and scorned Huckabee from almost top to bottom.

I said that I had felt like Christian conservatives should tel the establishment to stick it in its ear, and rub their noses it int if Huckabee wins.

But, my reflexes were not what Christians are called to be. If Huckabee wins, the Christian attitude would be to restore relationship with those people and try to reestablish a working cooperation. And, I think that's what Huckabee will do if he can withstand the even heavier barrage f bullets to come and wins the nomination.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

The exchange with Ann Coulter, who is very good at attacking people but has a limited understanding of what politics is and what it can achieve, is a good one. The problem with Mike Huckabee is that he has himself a limited understanding of foreign policy and military affairs in the Age of Terrorism, and that means he would be a chancy choice for a presidential nomination. Politics is the art of the possible, and many things Mike is promising (including a constitutional amendment apparently overturning Roe v. Wade -- or something) are promises he would not be able to keep. I said sometime ago that the race may come down to Giuliani versus Huckabee. At this point, I'd also throw McCain into the mix. It should be a lot of fun.

Larry said...

Have you thrown Romney out? Wouldn't it be delicious if Huckabee beat him in Iowa and McCain beat him in New Hampshire. Hey, I don't think I sent you the article in the Concord Monitor, today, saying Romney must be stopped.

Huckabee is another governor like most presidents have been. He will rely on intelligence and military strategists. He makes a big point of keeping politicians from interfering with the mil;itary. What he has is principle.

As for a life amendment, the same applies as with The Fair Tax: he'll take his case to the people. If they want these things, they'll have to demand it.

apacallyps said...

The Christian right (and other fed up conservatives) are supporting Mike Huckabee, but the right’s pundits are not flocking to support him, and many of them are actually trying to derail him. Case in point:

Rush's Hit-Piece on Huckabee
(stick with it, audio of Rush)

Something is very very very very wrong with this picture. Bottom line: The best candidate for the Republican nomination is Huckabee.

Huckabee - Cinderella Man

Spread this message around.


Larry said...

apacallyps said...

"The Christian right (and other fed up conservatives) are supporting Mike Huckabee, but the right’s pundits are not flocking to support him, and many of them are actually trying to derail him. Case in point:"

That's an understatement. EVERYONE is going after Huckabree. I listened to Limbaugh for over ten years. But, I got tired of him delivering the same message of scoffing at liberals and conservative defensiveness that he started with. Hey, especially since Republicans had the majority for so long, can't we at least talk about plans to restore and revitalize the country. "Liberals stink" is old news and no positive prescription for America.

Anyway, as I said, I can't believe that this avalanche of simplistic and inaccurate criticism of Huckabee is sincere. I think there's an ulterior motive.

apacallyps said...

As crazy as it may sound, I think some of this is a legitimate an attack on the Lord. I've noticed it's mostly the Republican elites that are attacking Huck. They are ruining the GOP mainstream chance of getting a President who will deal with their needs and not only Wall Streets and the Insiders.

For instance, Michelle Malkin whom I really like. Her website, they are attacking Huckabee every day non-stop. And you heard Rush's Hit-Piece on Huckabee. Figure that one out?! Conservative pundits like Robert Novak and Peggy Noonan hate Huckabee. We could go on and on.

Rush, Malkin, Drudge, Coulter and their little minions are fighting more viciously and unfairly than before. I think they're confronted with the prospect of having a REAL Christian President in Mike Huckabee and that scares them. They are fighting for their political lives because if he wins they're in danger of being rejected.

Anne Coulter (whom I've always liked and have her book Godless) she is against Huckabee in the most evil way. I would have thought she'd support Huckabee.

Coulter: Huckabee
Not A Strong Conservative

It's shocking. I almost have to think someone put her up to this. I watched that video and wondered why Anne Coulter chose to attack a fellow Christian (probably the most genuine one running) instead of applauding Huckabee for being the first candidate to lift up his hand when asked during one of the debates to "raise your hand if you don't believe in evolution". Huckabee was one of only three who had the courage. Mitt Romney didn't. Pro-abortionist Giuliani didn't. Fred Thompson kept his hand down. Etcetera.

Not a word from Coulter on this, except to attack Huckabee.

I also wondered why Coulter didn't applaud Mike for his awesome Christmas ad? Who else had the guts to speak about the birth of Christ on Christmas.

No word from Coulter on this, except to call Huckabee a "stupid Christian".

More, if you can stomach it:

She has the NERVE to attack Huckabee on Christianity, but says nothing about the fake one Mitt Romney. As a Christian myself, I am sick and tired of the Mormons telling everyone that they are Christians, because they are not Christians! They want everyone to think they are, but Mormons believe all kinds of strange things. If they wanna be Mormons, go ahead be a Mormon. But, STOP trying to hijack the Christian faith! This is offensive. Huckabee should have stuck to his guns and demanded a comprehensive answer to the question, "Do Mormons believe Jesus and Satan were brothers?" WHY?? Because the official website of the Mormon church explicitly makes the sibling connection between Jesus and Lucifer a matter of official Mormon doctrine!!:

Quote from the LDS (Mormon Website).

"On first hearing, the doctrine that Lucifer and our Lord, Jesus Christ, are BROTHERS may seem surprising to some – especially to those unacquainted with latter-day revelations," says the statement. "But both the scriptures and the prophets affirm that Jesus Christ and Lucifer are indeed OFFSPRING of our Heavenly Father and, therefore, spirit BROTHERS. Jesus Christ was with the Father from the beginning. Lucifer, too, was an angel "who was in authority in the presence of God," a "son of the morning." (See Isa. 14:12; D&C 76:25–27.) Both Jesus and Lucifer were strong leaders with great knowledge and influence. But as the Firstborn of the Father, Jesus was Lucifer's older BROTHER. (See Col. 1:15; D&C 93:21.)"


I have nothing against Romney personally, he is probably a very nice man. While I don't agree with Mormons on just about everything, we could probably learn from them about family values because of their strong devotion to the family. But, the Bible teaches us we should be able to recognize false teachers and "from such turn away." Matthew 7:15-20

So when I hear of another Christian body supporting the Mormon Romney, I get worried. It's very dangerous to promote a doctrine of the ecumenical movement which essentially promotes cooperation and understanding among all the different religious bodies, because that in the end has the aimed goal of a one world religion.

It should be interesting if in the end Anne Coulter supports Romney now that her candidate Duncan Hunter will soon be out of the race.

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, ... trucebreakers, false accusers, ... fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of
godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Larry said...

I think Coulter will endorse Romney or nop onme at all. She has said for quite a while that she thinks the nominee will be Giuliani or Romney, and I don't think she will endorse Giuliani.

She says that Giuliani and Romney cut taxes MORE than Huckabee did in Arkansas. First, "more" is a vague term: more dollars? more often? more as a percentage f the budget?

In any case,I think she's wrong. Much is made by the deceitful Club for Growth over taxes increasing BY 47% IN hUCKABEE'S TIME (101/2 years, as governor of Arkansas. What it doesn't mention is that in that period, the average tax burden in all opf the states went up well over 90%, about twice as much as in Arkansas. Just a little detail.

There MAY be a way to describe "more" that says that taxes increasedmore under Romney than under Huckabee. But, the fact is that taxes as a percentage of the econy went up more in Massachusetts in Romney's four years, than in Arkansas in Huckabee's 101/2 years.

In any case, it isn't exactly the right question. In fact, both of them had to balance budgets dealing with substantial Democrat majorities in their state legislatures. And state governments function on taxes (whether you call them "fees" or whatever. From a federal perspective, we have grown accustomed to wasteful tax increases to the point where we often consider a "tax" an evil in itself.

But, a state must collect taxes to deliver services for things like some of the most substantial things that were done with tax increases under Huckabee in Arkansas. They rebuilt a dilapidated and constraining highway system. They responded to a Supreme Court order to equalize education fundinf, and Huckabee also implemented accountability standards that measured a true increase in performance. They raised money to enhance maintenence of parks and public lands. If the people of the state considered those things optional, they simply wouldn't get done.

What are BAD are unnecessary and unproductive tax increases. And Huckabee has signed the Americans for Tax Relief "no new taxes" plege, and constantly says that increased ferderal taxes are not necessary. We need to control and prioritize disbursements, not increase taxes. Honestly, I can't say how or why someone like Coulter misses this.

I'd like to think that she mainly falls under the category I mentioned that is suspicious of Huckabee because he is not angry enough, for lack of a better word.

She's certainly a confessional Christian. She spoke last year, at the banquet of a pro-life organization that I was working with. But, I wonder if it was more personal, if she might devote herself to ACTING a little more like Jesus. Maybe her dissatisfaction with Huckabee grows from the fact that HE does.

With the more establishment Republicans, I think many aren't on a personal vendetta against Christ: they just get the creeps around people who are upfront about it.

Larry said...

Oh, and as for Mormons: of course Mormon doctrine departs substantially from orthodox (Protestant OR Catholic) Christian doctrine. But God doesn't judge the heart on doctrinal confession. Personally, if someone confesses that they are a Christian, 1) let THEM deal with it (and the voter, in this case). But 2) like macro-evolution (which I also dissent from) it's a distraction from a political discussion. I think Romney was pretty accurate with his speech about religion in America. The problem is not whether the speech was good. The problem is deciding WHEN he is sincere. If he's always sincere, then he has a poorly ordered mind.

apacallyps said...

For the most part I agree with you Larry. Keep up the good work.

Ronald Reagan said in 1984, "America needs God more than God needs America. If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under."

Looking at the overall picture my own personal view is I think America and Western Civilization are in big trouble. I mean, the fact that we have only one candidate running for President who genuinely appreciates the Word of God speaks volumes about the condition of our society. I'm afraid we have reached the day which the prophet had in mind when he wrote, "Woe unto them who call evil, good, and good, evil." Isaiah 5:20

If family values and moral Christian backbone are the foundation that will lead this nation out of darkness, why are those who preached it for decades suddenly turning away from the man who embodies these very qualities and puts them into action. The hypocrisy is pretty astounding, from my point of view.


Larry said...

In terms of the popular culture (television, film, and popular literatue), it is certainly correct that we are not just near but beyond a critical point of poor basic judgment.

However, though this dominates all of the clatter in our life, it is put together by less than one percent of the population, which is not there...

However, as they do define the bubble that people live in, though lagging, public opinion does tend to staggle along after the pop-culture clamor. Some of us see where it's heading and stand up and say no. But, many others are just loping along like cows following the tail in front of us, in this case the illusion of consensus in popular culture.

I've been saying for years that a culture that assimilates and acclimates itself to the idea that human life, EVEN ITS OWN OFFSPRING, is a matter of our perceived convenience, is losing a very fundamental sense of virtue. And, that selfish disposition will manifest itself in every area of society, which will become less and less civil and ordered.

People say that other nations have survived with legal abortion. But 1) there are clear signs that those people have become more self-centered and less considerate of other individuals. After all, that's the business of the state, not ME!
And 2) Manty of those nations fall under an umbrella of provision and protection of The United States, like especially Europe. When America's moral foundation is eroded away, the world might become a hi-tech jungle.

apacallyps said...

In 1787 Benjamin Franklin said, "I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth - that God governs the affairs of men - and if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that "except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this."

The Day They Kicked God out of the Schools

Tribute to the Founding Fathers

"I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ." Mike Huckabee 1998

"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31

I am an Independent, Tempermental, Fundamental, right-wing, radical, Baptist. I firmly believe if we forget about the LORD we are doomed to disaster.

Larry said...

The popular culture of television, film, and literature certainly has gone beyond the tether to respect of God and what is foundationally American. But, be aware that those who draw the lines of that popular culture are actually a very small percentage of the population, with a very big microphone.

Given that they define the bubble that the people live and breathe in, they do tend to tug a lagging public in their direction. I do think it is important that as "we the people," we work to raise a standard among our representatives, and I think Huckabee will do that, not by imposing it but by exemlifying it.

But even more important is that we raise the standard by exemplifying it to those around us, not by lecturing as much as by loving people.