Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Huckabee factor

This one is a bit long, so strap yourself in tight.

I'm a small government type. I call myself a libertarian, and, for the most part, it's an accurate appellation. I'm pro-life, and, much like Ron Paul, I want Roe v. Wade overturned because it's blatantly unconstitutional nonsense. And because I'm a Catholic first and a libertarian second, I'd also be up for making abortion illegal, though such action would have to come through the Congress, and might even require an amendment if the pesky Republican-controlled court gets in the way.

Abortion is a very important issue, and Mike Huckabee passes the litmus test on abortion. It's one big reason, perhaps the only reason, for his ever-growing support. Unfortunately, the rest of his record is anything but acceptable. For one, it reeks of corruption of the Clintonian variety. For another, he's about as fiscally irresponsible as Mitt Romney. If Huckabee would really do something about abortion, I'd consider holding my nose and voting for him. But we've elected "pro-life" candidate before; the only thing we have to show for it is a larger leviathan at the federal level, and more promises that the next election is "the most important ever", and that we're oh so close to over-turning Roe v. Wade. Some of the dupes believe it. I'm not buying.

Abortion is directly connected to the life issue. Any candidate who is pro-life, but supports immoral foreign wars--read: interventionist--cannot be trusted, especially when there is another candidate who is consistent on the life issue. Liberals like to bring up capital punishment, and while this is a life issue, it merits slightly different treatment. While the U.S. has no real reason to allow the practice, capital punishment is 1) a states' issue, and hence ultimately irrelevant in a presidential race; and 2) is hardly comparable to abortion
and/or immoral foreign wars because of the disproportionate size of the latter. Abortion has led to the deaths of 40+ million; the U.S. war in Iraq, as high as 655,000. Capital punishment has ended 15,000+ lives in the U.S., just over 1000 since 1976.

In short, a candidate should have things right when it comes to abortion, and also when it comes to just war. It would help if he had his head screwed on straight when it comes to capital punishment, too, but it's of far less importance.

So what is Huckabee's stance on the War in Iraq and the War on Terror? Glad you asked. We'll take some representative--and revealing--quotes from the links on his website:

I believe that we are currently engaged in a world war. This war is not a conventional war, and these terrorists are not a conventional enemy...

During the Cold War, we had hawks and doves, but this new war requires us to be a phoenix, rising reborn to meet each new challenge and seize each new opportunity...

The terrorists train in small, scattered groups. We can accomplish a great deal with swift, surgical air strikes and commando raids by our elite units...

Iraq is a battle in our generational, ideological war on terror...

Setting a timetable for withdrawal is a mistake. This country has never declared war until "a week from Wednesday," we have always declared war until victory.

As Scooby-Doo might say, "Rut roh!" Huckabee recently came under fire for criticizing President Bush's foreign policy, but if you can spot a single difference between the two when it comes to our wonderful war on terror, you're a better detective than Sherlock Holmes. Huckabee said Bush shouldn't have gone at it alone; specifically, he chastised Bush for an "arrogant bunker mentality". What Huck fails to note is that, when it comes to Afghanistan, he didn't go-it-alone. And when it comes to Iraq, nothing is going to convince countries to sign up to be junior members in the all but non-existent "coalition of the willing". To put it bluntly, unless we start to rethink our policies, we're going to be forced to go-it-alone. It's obvious Huck has put very little thought into foreign policy.

Equally disconcerting is his assertion in one of the debates that he would do "whatever is necessary to protect the American people", even if it meant ignoring Congress, the branch responsible for declaring war. Cowboy Huck sounds a lot like Bush--or Rudy.

And we haven't even gotten to his fiscal problems. Suffice it to say that, like every other Republican running, except for Ron Paul, he didn't discover a principled defense of limited government until he decided to run for office. In short, aside from his admirable stance on abortion, which appears to be genuine--unlike Romney's--he's a lot like Hillary Clinton--or George W. Bush. We'll get more of the same nonsense on the foreign policy front, and nothing to make a conservative happy on the fiscal one. Anyone who supports a federal smoking ban is not going to have any problem using the government to achieve his ends.

It's safe to say that Huckabee won't be getting my vote come November, assuming he manages to claw his way through the primaries and get the nomination. So why even write about him at all? Well, for one, because even though I'm not a big fan of our sham democracy, I can't seem to prevent myself from dwelling on it. For another, Huckabee's emergence as a first-tier candidate is fascinating for what it reveals about my former party.

For months, social conservatives have been told that they should go along with a Rudy nomination because he can beat Hillary. Ignoring the fact that projections more than a year before the actual election are bound to be inaccurate, many social conservatives balked at the idea that mere electability was paramount. There are limits to which the anyone-but-Hillary crowd will go. Rod Dreher captures the point:

I think it's fair to say that it was assumed that Giuliani would be a sound representative of the Republican Party, and that the social and religious conservatives would do like they always do and get in line. Pat Robertson sure did.

But lo, it turns out that the candidate who's caught fire comes straight out of the religious/social conservative wing of the coalition, and he is unsound on issues most important to the fiscal wing. It's not supposed to work that way. Nobody at the elite level seems to expect the economic conservatives to suck it up for the sake of party unity. What does that say about the place of social conservatives in the party all these years?

I've written about this before, but once a voting bloc demonstrates that it will go along with anyone who pays a bit of lip service to their issue of choice, they have lost all of their power. It's one reason I stopped voting. Continually electing the lesser of two-evils is a prescription for more of the same. The Republican Party has used social conservatives for years, and it appears at least some of them are sick of it.

And while it's true that Huck isn't fiscally conservative, it's important to note that: 1) neither are the rest of the candidates the conservative commentators keep telling us we need to support; and 2) the Bible is far less clear about the role of government in redistributing wealth than it is about murder; in short, being opposed to abortion doesn't make one an opponent of Big Government. My objection to Big Government stems from my pessimism and my knowledge, albeit limited, of history.

The first point was brought out clearly by Joe of The Evangelical Outpost. National Review, who insensibly endorsed Mitt Romney, ran an attack piece against Huckabee. But as Joe pointed out, all of the criticisms leveled at Huck could apply equally to Romney:

My point is simply that the selective criticism of Huckabee is unfair and borders on dishonest. As governor, Huckabee was far more fiscally conservative than Romney. He was also more fiscally conservative than Giuliani. So it is surreal to constantly hear the bogus attacks on his record and his positions.

The Republican Party no longer gives a damn for limited government. This has become increasingly apparent during the Bush administration, and it's even more obvious now that every "major" candidate for the presidency is fiscally liberal. Those that care for limited government have joined the Paul camp; if he doesn't get the nomination, I'll be very surprised if many of them vote. Seriously, what's the point? All of the candidates are virtually indistinguishable; none will change the collision course upon which we have foolishly set sail. (Can you tell I recently finished Pat Buchanan's new book?)

What Huck demonstrates, above all, is the dearth of principles in the "conservative" media. By ignoring Bush's irresponsibility, failing to hold his feet to the fire when it came to his social commitments--i.e. doing something about abortion--and casting aside all conservative principles in an effort to support Bush's idiotic War on Terror, the commentators have reaped what they have sown.

If Al-Qaeda is truly the existential threat that it is purported to be--it isn't--if we can really make the world safer by invading other countries--such invasions actually make us less safe--supporting any of the clowns running for higher office should be acceptable. They all support continuing Cowboy Diplomacy; they'll all rattle impotent sabers, at Iran and at Russia, and America will continue its slide from lone world superpower into decadent has-been.

If fiscal policy matters, than why didn't we hear about it until now? And if fiscal policy is truly of the utmost importance, why not support the only man who cares for limited government and liberty? The Republican Party of today doesn't deserve Ron Paul. They deserve a Democrat-controlled house and a Hillary presidency. It shall soon be theirs.

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