Saturday, December 8, 2007

What's Driving Huckabee's Conservative Critics

I’ve wanted to discuss what Huckabee is actually “guilty” of, if you want to call it guilt. But, other natters have dominated the last few days, which have also served to clarify the question, and maybe the answer. But before I get to that, look at the Rasmussen poll results, which make consideration of this question more urgent.

If you hate Huckabee, read ‘em and weep: After attaining a tie with Giuliani on Tuesday, Huckabee moved a few more points into the lead in Rasmussen’s national presidential tracking poll of likely primary voters, on Wednesday. He maintained a 3% lead on Thursday, and on Friday has increased the lead to 4%. And, in other polls, he now leads in South Carolina in addition to Iowa, is second in Florida, gaining in New Hampshire, now leads Michigan, and leads Hilary Clinton in an Arkansas poll, where Giuliani is crushed. I’m guessing Florida goes Huckabee next, which should get Rudy’s guns out with Mitt’s and Fred’s.

As you can read at Rasmussen’s page, Gallup’s lagging indicator is less frequent and measures “Adults,” while Rasmussen’s tracking poll is 1) daily and 2) screens carefully for likely primary voters.

But, I’ve discussed how Huckabee’s most strident adversaries (at least for the Republican nomination. Where will they be in the general, if Huckabee is the nominee? – as a Republican I was used to having social conservatives asked if they would support the nominee or stay home).

But, I have discussed how many conservative sources have criticized Huckabee on taxes, immigration, and the smoking ban clamor. I have explained with regard to the tax issue, Huckabee has only run a state with an 80% Democrat legislature and a constitutionally mandate balanced budget. Some of the largest expenditures were entirely legitimate and the only options regarding others were not whether to raise taxes, but which taxes to raise. Had the governor adamantly resisted. He would have 1) been overridden, and 2) NOT been reelected TWICE! But yes, Huckabee boosted the sales tax slightly for parks and fish and game. And, he had the audacity to boost Medicare eligibility for poor children. What self-respecting Scrooge Republican would do that? Diesel taxes? A rebuilt highway system that moved Arkansas to most improved from some of the worst highways in the country.

In the last post, we discussed how the smoking controversy was created and misrepresented, and how the Arkansas smoking ban in public places, exempted businesses whose patrons are 21 or over. Huckabee believes that cultivating a culture that discourages chronic disease-inducing behavior will save a lot of both public and private money in the long-run, not to mention improving quality and longevity of life.

And the “weak on immigration” charge is constructed on one little fact: Huckabee calls for a sealed border, no amnesty, no sanctuaries (read his immigration prescription at . In truth there is no problem except for the fact that Huckabee’s conservatism flows from principle, not hostile sentiment. BUT, his “sin” with respect to immigration is only having supported allowing the children of illegal aliens WHO HAD GONE THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL in Arkansas, to apply for a merit scholarship for college (the measure failed, incidentally), IF they were drug and alcohol-free and applied to be citizens. As Huckabee says: 1) we shouldn’t punish the children (years later after academic achievement, mind you) for the crime of the parents. And 2) we should prefer an educated and productive tax payer to a permanent lower-wage potential tax taker.

Huckabee is fiscally conservative not out of anger or avarice for himself or “rich friends,” as Democrats like to taunt. He’s fiscally conservative because 1) he respects private interests, 2) He knows that expanding government inclines toward waste and usually is counterproductive even to the interests it is ostensibly said to serve, and 3) (not coincidentally) it is usually unconstitutional. He favors government only as a necessary framework for the function of a healthy society.

I know that some people actually believe these criticisms. But, some of the criticizers are pretty transparently disingenuous. What is the real motivation? Before I offer an answer, let me say that some of the critics are clearly socially conservative. Chuck Baldwin is a Christian pastor and ideologically fastidious third-party campaigner, and Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum is a longtime social conservative, whose smile seems after decades of battle and much loss, to have worn into a grimace of overwhelmed paranoia.

And Republican blonde brigaders have also dismissed Huckabee. Ann Coulter has recoiled at Huckabee’s so called “populist” statements (which is a matter of interpretation) as well as statements inconsistent with “anyone even related to an illegal immigrant ought to dry up and blow away if they can’t be deported (the animosity stream). And today, Laura Ingraham railed that she’s tired of the Democrats’ coddling of illegal immigrants, and Mike Huckabee who thinks “our kids should compete with illegal immigrants for scholarships…” Again, there was no competition in the program: you qualified or you didn’t. But, now you’re not conservative enough if you don’t want to snuff the ambition of an accomplished high school graduate who wants to actually succeed in America? I’ve always hated having to explain to liberals that common-sense respect and encouragement of individual initiative and appropriate government modesty didn’t mean stuff like that!

Coulter and Ingraham are clearly pro-life social conservatives. But beyond these misguided people, the line is long and lengthening of traditional conservative entities that have taken aim at Huckabee. And, I think these people are too smart to believe and actually fear the horrors that they warn of. These are people I have read and usually appreciated for many years, probably because I am a fiscal, foreign policy (let’s put the Ron Paul-libertarian-paleo-conservative non-interventionism aside, for now), AND social conservative.

Frankly, I can’t help but suspect (the slight deceptions enhance this smell) that the underlying animus is the fact that though they are fiscally and often defense conservatives, they are not so much social conservatives. Even if they can remark on some of the barbaric aspects of abortion or even submit to a pro-life confession (what’s to lose if they can have social conservative votes? Most of these guys are 50 or 60 or beyond), they are a little queasy about these openly expressive Christians. They don’t want to be outright religious bigots, which is a particularly awkward prospect when most favor the Mormon investment manager Romney.

Perhaps it is a matter of an establishment decorum that is ill-at-ease with a freely confessed faith: “OK, I’m an Episcopal Christian but geez, you don’t have to TALK about it!” And, here we have this guy who says things like, “My faith not only influences my decisions, it defines me…” Ick! It’s just so CREEPY! And this guy wants to be the leader of OUR party? It’s presidential nominee? Something just isn’t RIGHT about THAT!

So, the traditional conservatives line up to take their whacks at Huckabee: The Wall Street Journal, The National Review, John Fund, George F. Will, Fred Barnes, Rich Lowry, Charles Krauthammer, Mark Steyn, talk show host Hugh Hewitt and other newer, smaller conservative luminaries who drink these peoples’ columns for breakfast: it’s an irony because even most of the old social conservative “leaders” have swallowed this gruel and either joined in the harping or endorsed other candidates, all of whom are now swooning. What was Richard Land, the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberties official, doing on an investor show with Larry Kudlow, playing stooge for his panel’s nods and “amens,” praising Romney’s speech and ignorantly criticizing the Fair Tax that Huckabee supports (Land said it’s “regressive.” Others call Huckabee a “populist.” Go figure) The way Huckabee’s polling keeps rising; it looks like social conservatives are telling these old leaders to go “lead” themselves.

The old establishment Republican journalist warhorse, Robert Novak was pretty barefaced about this cultural discomfort a few days ago in his criticism of Huckabee The False Conservative , in which he said,

“The rise of evangelical Christians as the force that blasted the GOP out of minority status during the past generation always contained an inherent danger: What if these new Republican acolytes supported not merely a conventional conservative but one of their own? That has happened with Huckabee, a former Baptist minister educated at Ouachita Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.”

It’s funny, because I noted a while back, the irony it would be if these establishment conservatives were faced with the decision to support one of those guys, just like the social conservatives have always been asked to do. Believe me; I’ve lived it, both as a citizen and as a Republican activist in the past. Our state conventions, dominated by social conservatives who were thrown the bones of writing rules and platforms, only to have them ignored or outright violated. Many have heard me tell of a conservative leader friend who was slandered and mocked by the party establishment in order to blunt his influence.

So yes, it is rather a novelty and an irony to imagine the shoe on the other foot: “Are you going to deliver your support or let the Democrats run the country?” It’s an amusing prospect, until you consider the possibility that they might not support a social conservative. People with established business interests are not going to be the great sufferers when taxation and regulation expand. Rather, what is dampened is the potential new competition. Once you have a foothold in the market, the creative dynamism of the economy is not so important. Sure, they want to minimize their taxes and maximize their shelters (the Fair Tax that Huckabee advocates would chloroform that angle, by the way. Remember the old 3 martini meals, vehicles, and trips that were “business” write offs? Not anymore). But having power to control that, may not override the indignity of that gauche Christian running our party!

And by the way, Hillary Clinton is up to her neck in corporate subsidy and endorsement. What Democrats takes with one hand, she’ll give back double with the other to the moneyed establishment in market constriction. That’s what socialism is: corporate money, government power. With Novak’s article, I did also ask who was going to be the Bob Michel lackey minority leader in the new permanent Republican House of Representatives minority.

The good news so far is that though these attacks keep piling up, Huckabee’s numbers keep going up, so far. Maybe some sheep are learning to look at the truth for themselves and walk on their own without the traditional guides.


Ian said...

One excellent posting! Now, let's give your readers something a little more sobering to consider - before they buy into the "Huck's FairTax Is Kooky" demagoguery:

Renown economist, Dr. Laurence Kotlikoff, has stated (9/26/2006),

"Yes I think [the U.S. is bankrupt] because if you look at our long term fiscal obligations and compare them with our tax receipts that are projected to come in, you end up finding the difference in present value is equal to $63 trillion. This is according to an update of a U.S Treasury study. So it is not an academic study but rather a government study.

"To come with $63 trillion in present value, you would have to have an immediate and permanent roughly 70 percent hike in federal corporate and personal income taxes. Alternatively you could immediately double the payroll tax. So we are talking about gargantuan adjustments here, huge problems that we are facing, and a lot of this has to do with the fact that the society is aging. We are currently facing 33 million people over 65. But when the Boomers retire there will be about 77 million people over 65. And we are currently handing out per old person roughly $30,000 on average in Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid benefits. But when the Boomers retire we are going to be paying them a lot higher level of benefits because these benefit levels continue to grow much more rapidly than wages per worker. So think about 77 million Baby Boomers getting roughly $40,000 per head, and you see the magnitude of the problem. We are talking trillions of dollars. $44,000 times 77 million is a very big number. It is in the trillions, A couple trillion dollars a year in obligations. So I do not think it is an exaggeration to say the country is bankrupt."

Kotlikoff believes that Huckabee's FairTax is the vehicle to derail economic meltdown.

And Kotlikoff is in good company.

truthseeker said...

You guys do not believe Huckabee is serious about balancing our budget do you?

You know, if you do the math, the only way to balance the budget is to get our troops home from the 120 countries with our 700 military bases and protect our nation only.

Our nation building costs 1 trillion a year - roughly 33% of our total annual budget outlay.

Huckabee is not a fiscal conservative - never has been and never will be. He has gone after and got the "idiot" vote in recent weeks- you know blacks vote for Democrats- southern baptists and Christian evangelicals vote for Republicans- especically if the
"Republican" is a former tv evangelist.

But do not kid yourself into thinking Huckabee is going to reduce our military expenditures. Read his recent speech to the Council on Foreign Relations - the way he describes it, he will have better roads and bridges in the Middle East than we will have in our own country.

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Larry Perrault said...

What they need to do is fly all of those Fair Tax proponents to a basketball stadium in Dallas, invite Fair Tax supporters from around the country and let any of the finance advisors who appear on investment television programs who scorn the idea, to come and bring questions.

Those advisors don't oppose it because it would hurt the economy or the country, or certainly not because it's "refressive." They don't like it because they and their big traders have teams of accountants who figure out how to write off most of their "business" expenses. The net effect of that is to shift the tax burden down to lower-income segments of society.

Under The Fair Tax, every new purchase, from jets to paper clips would be taxed. So, rather than being regressive, the largest taxes would be paid by the largest consumers.

I think I'll post your comment, with the links in A VERY LARGE FONT!

Larry Perrault said...


Huckabee certainly will work toward a balanced budget. He has said that the federal government should balance budgets, just like the states do. He is a fiscal conservative out of principle about economics and human nature, not out of disdain for thoughtfulness.

What you refer to as the cost of our "nation-building" is in all but a very few cases the protection of nations and American interests. As with all government functions, it can be and usually is overdone an inefficiently done. It probably needs paring back.

But, I'm not indifferent to humanity outside of America. And in fact, in today's world, I think even our own defense as a withdrawn bunker is a delusion.

Truthseeker is a good name: I hope you have more success with it in the future.

And BTW, Ron Paul is a good ol' guy, who's right about a lot of things. But, the big thing he's wrong about is a WHOPPER! And, he won't win a single delegate.

Anonymous said...

Help fight the fight over at Talk about about of people that don't like Huck. One guy is correcting most of it but he needs help!

Bob said...

Ultimately, Mike will win over his Establishment Right critics.

A lot of them are upset now because Mike is very Beyond the Beltway. Lowry- Novak- Coulter- Ingraham- Will- et. al. see themselves being displaced as Huck comes into ascendancy. They are worried because Huck is gaining without their help and influence. They will come around.

Huckabee has the only workable conservative plan on taxes, spending, immigration and national security. Mike will go over the media’s heads and go directly to the people, he is and will be understood.