Wednesday, February 6, 2008

McCain, Huckabee, Conservatism and Audacious Integrity/Dear Dr. Dobson

Rett Hatcher posted a comment on James Dobson’s statement that he cannot vote for McCain: Dobson Puzzle
My comment was extended it enough that I needed to post and reference it, discussing McCain and Huckabee…

Rett:

Listen, I went to my state Republican convention in 1998 with a stack of flyers detailing the problems with a few Republican figures, most notably John McCain. In 2000, and 2004 I voted third-party, in fact leaving the Republican Party and joining The Constitution Party. I'm in Texas and I knew that George W. Bush was philosophically skeletally structured. When he was elected I said, "Leviathan gets a night manager," and I was exactly right. The fact is that the Republican Congress never would have let Al Gore do things like double the federal Department of Education and greatly expand Medicare entitlements, for example: that required the affirmation of an "R" president.

I'm not angry at Bush and in fact hugely appreciate his resolve in opposing violent Islam and defending America and humanity, which is just one reason why I left The Constitution Party, the spokespeople and probably the majority of which have a foreign policy disposition closer to Ron Paul's. I wish Bush had had the same resolve about the social vitality of America. But, I always knew that that facility was not there.

Generally, I think McCain is similar and probably worse, in terms of philosophical ambiguity, because he has plainly shown a vulnerability to usually misguided pop-ethics. I think Bush has a helpful combination of sound counsel and political pragmatism, and McCain may be less amenable to countering advice. McCain's extraordinary resolve can be bad as well as good. A man who has never supported a tax increase, can go into Iowa as a candidate and oppose ethanol subsidies, oppose Bush's tax reductions out of conviction about spending, oppose Bush's expansion of Medicare, support resolve in Iraq at the lowest ebb of that position's popularity several months ago...there's plenty more, but I hope you get the idea...is strikingly loyal to the convictions that he HAS in today's political world.

I'm aware of the paradox in what I'm saying: McCain is philosophically deficient, but faithful to his sentiments. For me, that makes him preferable by legions to the picture that Mitt Romney's history presents to me. Provide him with surrounding counsel that is equally decent and philosophically more lucid.

I think Romney should get out. He can only compete in a few Western states. But, it amounts to a demonstrable waste of money. In the contests he needed, he lost to BOTH McCAIN AND HUCKABEE! Huckabee can very possibly win in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi and strongly compete in Ohio (very pro-life Catholic), South Dakota, and possibly Kansas. But Romney can do as he likes with his money. I just hope he doesn’t hurt anyone with it and doesn’t try, and I don’t think he will…anymore.

Huckabee can take a substantial stack of delegates. If he becomes the nominee, McCain NEEDS badly to animate the social conservatives in the South and Midwest, as is so starkly illustrated in James Dobson's comment that you cite. I don't know if there's possible path to that other than Huckabee on the ticket, who also balances McCain's age, appeals to women and youth. And believe it or not you aggravated conservatives; Huckabee also is the answer to that inclination to philosophical dysfunction, where he is clear and articulate. The only problem a McCain-Huckabee ticket can possibly have is if some conservatives continue to make a stink about it. I’m glad Hugh Hewitt has relented and is being positive about the fall Republican ticket. I’m waiting to hear about Rush’s or Ann coulter’s foolishness.

In truth, where Huckabee is distinguished from this rabid population is in his lack of animosity and his realism, which is another source of my separation from The Constitution Party. I am a Christian, as are most all of the CP, mostly good and thoughtful and dedicated people. But, the model of Christ engages reality, not just an abstract and practically irrelevant ideal. Jesus had the Spirit of God...IN a FALLEN world. The whole point of the divine incarnation is that Jesus LOVED SINNERS, which incidentally includes ALL of us. We don't require grace any less than anyone else. Our duty as grace's recipients is to be the expression of God's grace to a world as flawed as we are.

Constitutionalists will insist that government has nothing to do with that. As an example that I have written about in the past, many months ago now, I visited a web site organized by a constitutionalist guru after they misunderstood the issue that had arisen about Huckabee and a smoking ban. In the first place, Huckabee’s position was misconstrued and the question hadn’t arisen as it had been portrayed. But, I raised another question about the extremity of health care costs and the need for their containment. I was immediately swarmed as though I had shaken a stick in a beehive: “…no constitutional authority!" they scorned, which was correct: there is none. But a little reality check is in order and urgently in need. The federal government is fairly drowning in medical liabilities that it has accrued, never mind the high and rapidly escalating personal costs that the system, including govt. regulations. Constitutionality is irrelevant: the costs and liabilities are an intractable FACT. What is a meticulous constitutionalist going to do about that? It seems like they are going to pretend it isn’t there.

But, all of that is part of the exile into abstraction, which I suspect animates much of the hostility against Huckabee, who commits the audacious apostasy of even expressing concern for the concerns of ordinary Americans, including populations that have to a great extent favored Democrats: minorities, laborers, or simply as he says, “Main Street” Americans. If we can’t even talk like that, such populations will stay largely Democrat strongholds. Conservatives need to work on and explicate conservative responses to those concerns. Reality is that the utter disjunction of government from moral concerns is a battle long lost. If you don’t want to play, you may as well leave the field. But to some conservatives, empathy only translates to the love of unconstrained taxing and spending and “open borders.”

That root problem of Huckabee’s empathetic expression runs through most of the so-called “conservative” complaints about him. As a state government must do, taxes were raised (though modestly) to address state essentials. States must provide education, build roads, and maintain parks, which was the great bulk of tax increases. Under Governor Huckabee, Arkansas also (gasp) gave very poor children access to Medicare coverage. Scandalous! And all of this was in a state with an 80% Democrat representation, by the way. But, Huckabee cut taxes at every opportunity, including a broad-based income tax reduction, and all of them were unprecedented in Arkansas. The tax attacks were politically and/or personally motivated, and drastically deceptive.

Likewise, he did not scorn and spurn illegal aliens. But in 2007, he opposed the immigration bill that didn’t secure the border first, and later outlined the most rigorous immigration enforcement bill, which offered incentives rather than proposing (ultimately probably empty) threats, to return home and pursue an orderly legalization via a hopefully expedited process. And the Fair Tax idea that Huckabee endorses and advocates for is the most economically liberating and stimulating idea to have appeared in our lifetimes.

I support Huckabee because he’s a remarkable combination of philosophical clarity, empathetic realism, sound character, and engaging leadership. Today, I heard Bill Krystol doubting Huckabee’s potential as a VP option, saying McCain would need someone of “more stature,” and mentioning Jeb Bush, though acknowledging the last name is a problem.

What does one have to do to achieve “stature?” Huckabee was Arkansas governor longer than Bill Clinton and longer than Jeb Bush was governor of Florida. I’ll acknowledge that Florida is larger and more electorally critical than Arkansas. But, I may be accused of mere “identity” defensiveness as an evangelical Christian, but I can’t help but think that Huckabee wouldn’t meet the “stature” standard, even if he had served his 101/2 years (14 as Governor and Lt. Governor) in Florida, precisely because he is an evangelical Christian, which can be condescended to, even if subconsciously, by the political establishment. That’s an irony when so many establishment Republicans endorsed Romney, whom I assume has no “stature” problem, even though he was Massachusetts governor for only 4 years.. But, Romney might have gotten similar treatment if, in addition to affirming his Mormonism and the role of “faith” in America., he said things like, “My faith not only informs me, it defines me.” That is laudable in terms of integrity and consistency. But, in terms of pop-culture, it’s “politically incorrect.”

7 comments:

mickey said...

Guess You (and me) need to go back to the Constitution Party. None of these bozos will be a good thing.

dobson said...

There is a related presentation of Dobson's views at the video:

James Dobson: OPEC America and Radical Islam

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0WPvPR_WaE

Stephen R. Maloney said...

The Bozos in the Constitution Party are welcome to do what they always do: behave irresponsibly and retard the progress of conservatism. Most of the bozos are self-aggrandizing political nitwits. John McCain neither needs them nor wants them. They get in the way and are too "high maintenance."

Today, Mitt Romney suspended his campaign, and he did it with eloquence and grace. I'm sure Larry and other Huckabee supporters will agree that the point Romney made are also applicable to Mike Huckabee.

Mike ran a good campaign, with a few lapses, but now it's time for him to suspend his own campaign, for the good of the Party and of the country. I'm sure he and John McCain will be talking soon, and I hope Mike sees the light.

Larry said...

Mickey:

You know, I disagree with people like one of my favorite talk-show hosts, Michael Medved, who scorns the very idea of third parties as completely impractical;.

I agree with the the fact that you can't look for "perfection," particularly as defined by everyone agreeing with YOU. First, there is no such thing. Even The Cpmstitution Party, principled as it is, had substantial splits which it resolved democratically. And secondly, it's essential to work with people with whom you have differences which, frankly, will ultimately boil down to almost everyone. We should focus on positive objectives, not negative reaction.

However, there are foundational principles that I will not compromise, most notably life, liberty and property. Of course, the federal government is already and has been meddling deeply in private property. But of course no one would support a candidate who did not respect human liberty in America.

And I will not and have said so, support or vote for a candidate who did not respect and advocate for the sanctity of human life. I said way back a year ago that if Giuliani were nominated, which was widely promoted at the time, I would not support or vote for the Republican ticket. It's nothing personal. He's a competent attorney and administrator, among other things. He is a definitively incompetent chief executive in charge of protecting and defending The Constitution and American principle.

To cede to the disrespect of human life is to loose not only America but the Republican Party, the only major party that has held up the standard, to the currents of an errant and unconstrained popular culture.

That said, 1) Mike Huckabee IS a candidate who is constrained by essential princiole. And so for that matter, though I often disagree with his judgment, is John McCain. He can be wrong on details, but he's right on essential principles.

But also, The Constitution Party is not the third party that I fully endorse. It has great and central components of support for what I see as a dangerous and ultimately inhumane foreign policy. And, it is focused on an abstract ideal much more than practically engaging and redirecting an errant reality.

Larry said...

That's an interesting video. It is important to recognize that global corporations care at bottom, about prodit, and not to take anyone's "news" uncritically as gospel.

However, I believe the threat of radical Islam is real. And, it's dangerous and inhumane to ignore the threat.

Steve:

As I said, I don't agree with much of the CP agenda. But, I know these people personally. And, I've watched your incoherent ramblings for many months. Certainly in the context of the CP, its just plain silly for you to talk about "nitwits."

John McCain and Mike Huckabee have been talking all along. They know what they're doing. But, if in addition to CP members, you think Mike Huckabere has something to learn from your "wise" counsel, you should contact him. I'm sure he's waiting with baited breath to hear from you.:-) Oh, wait...aren't you the one who counted him out months ago, before he started collecting delegates, 5 state less than two days ago? Aren't you the one who originally rode the bid of Rudy Giuliani? Aren't you the one who belched out distortions about Huckabee and his record before his Iowa victory? Still, go ahead andf send an email or leave a message. Tell him I sent you...

Lee said...

One of the things I find fascinating about this whole argument against McCain, and Huckabee to a lesser degree, is that they almost completely ignore what the voters are saying, in relatively large numbers. What good was Romney to hard core conservatives, if the majority of Republicans, 80% at least, who showed up to vote in the caucuses and primaries voted for someone else? Ronald Reagan conservativism may be iconic in the Republican party, but it no longer appeals to the majority. There have been too many years of corporate greed run wild, unimagineable profits in health care, insurance and the oil industry, while the bulk of the middle and working class has seen their wages decline, their spending power decline and their retirement savings burn down like a candle. On top of that, evangelical Christians are finally standing up for their issues, and putting some teeth in their voting power by insisting that they no longer be taken for granted.

McCain can heal one rift by choosing Huckabee as his running mate. He can't even begin to think about winning the White House without evangelical support. He probably can't win it without conservative support, either, but in terms of numbers of votes, evangelicals potentially will deliver more than the remaining conservatives.

I believe the race is probably set at this point, and will be McCain and Obama. But the tables have turned. The worst thing that could happen to McCain would be for the Democratic party race to go all the way to their convention. That would focus the media attention on Clinton and Obama and away from McCain. As long as Huckabee holds on, that won't happen. He's running neck and neck in the polls in Texas, and if he should happen to beat McCain here, and pick up propotional delegates in other states that aren't winner take all, he could prevent McCain from getting enough votes to win on the first ballot. It's anybody's race after that.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

Isn't Dr. Dobson the guy who recommends hitting small children with wooden implements?

The national media appears ready to continue giving Barack Obama, voted the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate by the non-partisan National Journal, a free pass. It's critical that the new media, which includes us, take a very hard look at Senator Obama, an extremely flawed candidate. I'm trying to do that, and I hope you will also.

Michael Barone's The Almanac of American Politics, 2008, p. 539, says the following of Obama as an Illinois State Senator: "He voted against providing medical care for fetuses who survived abortions." So much for his "universal health care."

For my own blogs, I'm doing rsearch on the relationship between George Soros and his political funding of -- and ideological influence on -- Barack Obama. A Hungarian who emigrated to American and made billions of dollars in finance and currency speculation, Soros, his family, and business asocicates have contributed huge sums to Barack Obama in his senatorial and presidential campaigns. (See the "Obama" financial sections on http://opensecrets.org, especially the "top contributors" segment for 2006 and 2008.)

Soros is the financial "godfather" of Moveon.org, the nation's largest political hate group. He's also a fan of Hamas, the Palestine-centered terrorist group. On Feb. 1, 2008, Moveon.org, an organization that claims 3 million-plus left-leaning members, gave its first endorsement to a presidential candidate: Barack Obama. The vast amount of money that's recently poured into Obama's coffers apparently has come from Moveon-types. Moveon.org members and Soros have been pressuring Obama to take more extreme positions on the economy and the war on terrorism.

My columns on Soros, Moveon, and Obama will begin appearing on Sunday, February 17 at: http://camp2008victorya.blogspot.com.

steve maloney
ambridge, pa