Friday, February 1, 2008

VP Huckabee

Lucas Croslow writes:

I like Mike. Really, I do. But somewhere between Arkansas, Iowa, and his national campaign, I realized this is not a man who can lead the free world. One need not have personally known John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, or even Bill Clinton to say confidently: You, Mike Huckabee, are none of these.

Huckabee has been variously praised and disparaged for his everyman perspective on national issues. As the Iowa Republican Caucuses approached, the two-time Arkansas governor opined that Americans would rather vote for the guy they work beside than the guy who laid them off (an unsubtle reference to Romney, his businessman opponent). But being a likable guy won't fix Iraq, pay for Social Security, or reduce the federal deficit – just three of the major tasks the next president needs to accomplish. America needs a man of action, the kind that makes tough decisions and risks being disliked for them, not a buddy president you want to have a beer with after work.

The genius of the American constitution will carry the country through even an abysmal presidency. But it is open to question whether the Republican Party can survive another Bush-like embarrassment before the watchful eyes of the world and the liberal elite. Having squandered an historic opportunity to bury the Democrats beneath the rubble of the 2002 mid-term elections, the Republicans need a president who will restore confidence in the party, or else it's unlikely that Americans will again entrust the House and Senate to the GOP anytime soon. Huckabee is poised to repeat Bush's mistakes, not undo them, for a number of reasons.

First, to put it diplomatically, Huckabee lacks foreign policy experience. To put it plainly, he is clueless. The southern accent and country-boy speaking style that endear him to voters in his native Arkansas don't play so well at the national level, much less in foreign affairs. On one memorable occasion, good ol' Mike offered his "apologies" to Pakistan for the assassination of Prime Minister hopeful Benazir Bhutto. Such a misstatement is forgivable – even forgettable – when one is addressing the people of Missouri (despite sometimes-tense relations between the Tigers and the Razorbacks). It is simply unacceptable in the fragile diplomatic environment of the Middle East.

Furthermore, despite his more than ten years as a governor, Huckabee's economic credentials are almost as non-existent as his foreign policy ones. The centerpiece of his tax plan is a whopping 30% federal sales tax to replace every tax the IRS is currently collecting (the Huckabee campaign, by the way, is advertising this as a 23% tax, a number they derive through arithmetic sleight of hand). Even if the bizarre program were to make it into law, it wouldn't solve any real fiscal problems, such as the looming unfunded liabilities of Medicare and Social Security, without a corresponding cut in spending – which would require discipline Huckabee has never demonstrated. Well, not never. He did run the New York City Marathon.

Huckabee's flimsy promises not to raise taxes wouldn't hold any more water in the White House than they have in the Governor's Mansion. He has refused to come out in favor of making the Bush tax cuts permanent, and his record is one of raising, not lowering taxes (according to the Club for Growth, Arkansans enjoy 37% higher sales taxes than when Huckabee took office, among other hikes).

But in spite of his glaring flaws, for many Republicans, Huckabee represents the last best hope of a socially conservative nominee in 2008. He's pro-life and against gay marriage, and many conservative voters are unwilling to compromise on these issues, even if it means nominating a candidate with no reasonable chance of winning the general election. Thus Huckabee has won the social conservative vote by default; he's simply in the right place at the right time.

Similarly, evangelicals are faced with a choice between a devout Mormon (Romney), a twice-divorced Catholic (Giuliani), a barely Baptist divorcee (McCain), and a wholesome, ordained Southern Baptist minister. Guess which one they're picking, in droves. Never mind that a vote for Huckabee is, in all likelihood, a vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama come the second Tuesday in November.

It's not entirely bad, though, that Huckabee is in the running. Many of the things that would make him a terrible president would make him a great Vice President. As a running mate he might draw evangelical votes that would otherwise be lost to hopeless third-party candidates, by softening one of the other less-religious Republican hopefuls. As vice president he could put a soft face on the president's domestic policies, without having a chance to really mess anything up. And hopefully he'd be too busy presiding over the Senate to issue any doltish apologies.

-- Lucas Croslow studies politics, philosophy and economics at The King's College in New York City and is a guest writer today for Principalities and Powers.

1 comment:

Afayemarie said...

De Tocqueville maintains that,

"I feel so impressed by the almost inevitable dangers to which beliefs are exposed when their interpreters are mixed up in public affairs, and I am so convinced that one must at any price maintain Christianity within the bosom of the new democracies, that I would prefer to LOCK UP THE PRIESTS in the sanctuary than to allow them to leave it."

..>Referencing pastors and religious leaders in politics. This is partially, among other reasons, why I can't support Huckabee...and am saddened by all those Christians who jump on the Huckabee religion bandwagon.

FURTHERMORE, If Huckabee can't control his own sons and family, this may reflect on his inadequacy to maintain a entire country. For a guy who's touting "Christian morals", this story is a pretty sad one:

However, Lucas, I truly appreciate the sentiments. Keep writing.