Assessing the GOP field: Mike Huckabee

It’s like the set-up to a gag: how would you like to nominate a former governor of Arkansas, who hails from Hope and says he’s a Baptist, for a bid to the White House? Surely we’re talking about former national disgrace, Democrat Bill Clinton, right? Nope. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is running for the GOP nod in 2008, and is being taken seriously by quite a number of misdirected “faith” voters who helped install Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush into the White House.

That’s because, ever since the so-called “Hucka-boom,” in which the media scrambled to puff a less well-known liberal Republican when it became obvious voters weren’t buying John McCain and were growing increasingly wary of Rudy Giuliani. They found their fair-haired faux conservative and genuine RINO in Huckabee. His conservatism is about as inflated as a flat garden hose; in other words, not much at all.

Huckabee talks a decent game; he has faced the Clinton political machine in Arkansas and won. But is he noticeably different from those Democrats the Clinton machine ran against him? It would appear not.

So how does he do it? How does Mike Huckbee fool so many conservatives into embracing liberal government solutions instead of Reagan-style conservative values? The answer is simple: religion.

Mike Huckabee wears his faith bonafides on his sleeve in a manner so outrageous, even George W. Bush would tell him to tone it down a bit. He mentions being a former Baptist preacher more often than he mentions being Arkansas’s former chief executive. Huckabee’s miscalculation is in thinking that he’s running to become America’s pastor, rather than its president; even Pat Robertson focused more on politics in his failed runs for the GOP nod.

Now, to be kind, Mike Huckabee has a nice personal story. As a man who once was challenging Bill Clinton for who had the fastest-expanding waistline, Huckabee conquered his overeating and, if he’d had a better career manager, might have even won an edition of NBC’s The Biggest Loser. Or at least MTV’s Celebrity Fit Club.

His tale of embracing fitness over fatness is inspiring.

But is he a Reagan conservative? He’ll claim the mantle, but the devil is in his policy details. The Huckabee record includes some controversial tax hikes, and perhaps he did inherit them; but he also did nothing to reverse them while in office. The Huckabee record also includes a permissive approach toward illegal immigration that could serious jeopardize national security. And the Huckabee record includes proposals mandating health and fitness goals that would make any big government, control your life liberal proud.

Bottom line is, Mike Huckabee has a lot to prove and leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to living up to the Reagan legacy. Of the six candidates will be profiling, Huckabee rounds out the three we feel fall into the undesirable, liberal RINO candidates who would make poor choices that are only an echo of their Democratic rivals, not a clear choice in favor of a different, more democratic, federalism-centered, Constitution-based Reagan brand of conservatism that moves the country away from socialist drift and toward the type of government our founders intended.

Of these poor choices, both Huckabee and Giuliani are supportable in a general election, simply because they have some positives going for them (Giuliani) or a thin enough public record that perhaps they could grow in a more Reagan-esque direction (Huckabee) than they may appear. Only McCain is so anti-conservative and objectionable that his nomination would cause to withdraw general election support in 2008.

But none of these three are worthy of this site’s primary- and caucus-season support; there are three better options on the table.

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