Huckabee House Built on a Weak Foundation

Mike Huckabee is this week's latest Republican buzz, but I think his house is, as the old calypso song goes, "a house built on a weak foundation," and "it will not stand oh, no."

I understand why his star has risen. I've said it before, the voters are sick of slickly packaged parsers, saying one thing to get the nomination in primaries and leaving dancing room for the general election. The CNN pretend "debate" gave him many opportunities to display his debate skills and obvious personal charm. But a close look at his record and character suggests that behind the façade there may lurk the wishy-washy thinking of another Southern governor, Jimmy Carter, covered by  the clever rhetorical skills of the other recent Southern governor, Bill Clinton, who also grew-up in Hope, Arkansas, the town of Huckabee's birth.

If it's a true straight talker you're looking for, go with Fred Thompson, who has all the charm of Huckabee and whose house is built on a bedrock foundation of federalism.

Let me explain. Right now we are in the middle of the most pressing foreign policy dilemmas and national security challenges. Not a single Republican candidate in the top tier is as lacking in experience on defense and foreign affairs that Huckabee. He mouths the right platitudes on the issues, but then tips his weak hand with offhand comments in which he concedes that Gitmo has been run properly but we should close it because it makes us look bad to foreigners. He has said we need to work "to restore relationships and rebuild the kind of positive attitudes people have historically had toward our own nation...."

These two statements reflect, I think, a startling naiveté about what has been happening over the past four years. I believe the uproar about Gitmo is part and parcel of the European myopia, not a failure of U.S. policy. Indeed, I've never seen one person who yelped about Gitmo offer any reasonable and practical alternative. Nor have I seen a persuasive legal argument against the segregation of irregular combatants offshore.

As to "restor[ing] relationships and rebuild[ing]...positive attitudes ," what planet has he been on? No reasonable and reasonably informed person could have missed that the persons most involved in whipping up anti-Americanism were Gerhard Schroeder, Jacques Chirac and  Jean Chrétien, all of whom were replaced by leaders far less corrupt and far more sympathetic to American positions than their predecessors.

Outside of Europe, in the Middle East, in particular, it is hard to imagine that any policy short of abject surrender to the forces of jihadism would make a dent. People who can be brought out in the streets by the thousands to protest the publication in Denmark of a Muhammad cartoon are not likely to respect or admire a country like ours, based on the best thoughts of Western civilization including free speech and freedom of religion, no matter what else we do.

These statements, to my mind, reflect that at heart Mr. Huckabee, likeable as he is, is a man too swayed by squishy sentiment and emotion to be determined wartime leader.

But beyond the Carteresque hints in his foreign policy -- hugging intractable enemies won't change their minds -- I see more troublesome signs of a Clintonesque quality in  him.

He has found a shrewd, if unappealing, way to disparage Romney's Mormonism without getting caught at it, by touting himself as "The Christian candidate for President."

As Charles Krauthammer has noted:
KRAUTHAMMER: But it implies for those that believe that Mormonism is a heresy, that here is the guy that you want. When Huckabee had been asked is this  heresy, he said I'm above that. It's not an issue that I ought to discuss, and I'm only running for the presidency.

He should have said whether or not he belongs to a Christian sect is irrelevant in this country. After all, Joe Lieberman is not a member of a Christian sect, and he's not disqualified from the presidency.

That's what he should have done, but he is using, subtly, the suspicions about the Mormonism as a way to advance his candidacy, and that's why I think he has jumped ahead in Iowa, while the others have not found a way to exploit the Mormonism. He has.
He has been utterly misleading, for example, on parts of his record, most notably immigration and taxes, and I find that almost as disturbing as his foundational weakness on defense and lack of knowledge on foreign affairs.

He has portrayed himself as a small government proponent and a tax cutter, but as Club for Growth argues, this is untrue,  citing nine separate tax hikes he supported or raised   .

"No doubt, Huckabee is an engaging speaker, but even the most gifted politician can't talk his way out of the laundry list of tax hikes Mike Huckabee is carrying around," said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. "Sooner or later, Mike Huckabee is going to have to answer for his liberal tax-and-spend record, and humorous one-liners and half-truths won't cut it. The American people deserve honest answers, not a stand-up routine."
To be fair, some of this was mandated by a state Supreme Court ruling requiring a sudden influx of funds for educational expenses, but why not be honest about that? And there are other statements that he made in the debate which also reflect a Clinton-like dancing about the truth.

At the CNN debate he said:
Huckabee: Anderson, the first thing that I would get rid of would be the Internal Revenue Service. We'd have a complete getting rid of a $10-billion-a-year industry. I'm not being facetious. If we enacted the Fair Tax, one of the most researched ways to revive our economic future. We will get rid of the IRS.
But that, of course, is grossly misleading and Fact Check caught him on that:

It is true that the Fair Tax would get rid of the agency that we now call the IRS. But, according to the bill Huckabee supports:

"There shall be in the Department of the Treasury a Sales Tax Bureau to administer the national sales tax in those States where it is required." So, Huckabee would "eliminate" the IRS by replacing it with a Sales Tax Bureau.

Furthermore, the new Sales Tax Bureau wouldn't necessarily be much smaller than the existing IRS. According to the bipartisan Advisory Panel on Tax Reform, which
studied the Fair Tax proposal extensively and rejected it:

"The federal administrative burden for a retail sales tax may be similar to the burden under the current system" in order to ensure that the various states collected the tax in a systematic way. The panel went on to point out that the Fair Tax, which includes a cash grant to each taxpayer to compensate for its regressive nature, would also  require an entirely new type of bureaucracy to "keep track of the personal information that would be necessary to determine the size of the taxpayer's cash grant."
He misled the audience as well on his views respecting immigration, most particularly his defense of a doomed proposal to provide state college scholarships for children of illegal immigrants. He said in the debate:
Huckabee: I supported a bill that would have allowed those children who had been in our schools their entire school life the opportunity to have the same scholarship that their peers had who had also gone to high school with them and sat in the same classrooms. They couldn't just move in their senior year and go to college. ... [It] said that if you'd sat in our schools from the time you're 5 or 6 years old and you had become an A-plus student, you completed the core curriculum, you were an exceptional student, and you also had to be drug and alcohol free, and the other provision, you had to be applying for citizenship.
But that grossly misstates the bill he supported.
Actually, the bill Huckabee pushed for in his 2005 State of the Union address did not apply only to "those children who had been in our schools their entire school life." It required only three years in an Arkansas high school to be eligible. And students did not have to be "applying for citizenship," but rather they had to sign an affidavit stating their intent to do so in the future. All students who apply for state scholarships must "certify that they are drug-free" and "pledge to refrain from alcohol" if they are under 21, just as Huckabee said. But they certainly don't have to be "an A-plus student." The state requires a solid "B" average (a 3.0 average on a 4.0 scale). And the state may reduce that to a 2.5 average if sticking with the higher requirement "would unduly reduce the number of low-income or disadvantaged students who would otherwise be eligible for the program." That's a C-plus average.

The bill passed the Arkansas House but
failed in the Senate. Later, a pared down version that would grant illegals in-state tuition breaks, but not scholarship rights, failed two votes short of passage.
And his present stance on immigration is far different than the one he has publicly taken when Congress was considering the issue.

Then he:
"Supported President Bush's immigration plan and claimed that opposition to Bush's proposal was driven by "racism or nativism" and that it wasn't amnesty. (Ralph Hallow, "Huckabee 'Serious' About Presidency," Washington Times, 5/17/06)
Compare and contrast his actions and statements with Thompson's views.

Thompson said on May 15, 2007  

No matter how much lipstick Washington tries to slap onto this legislative pig. It's not going to win any beauty contests. We should scrap this ‘comprehensive' immigration bill...until the government can show the American people that we have secured the borders.
By contrast here's what opponents of the immigration bill said of Huckabee:
Groups that support a crackdown on illegal aliens haven't settled on their champion in the race for the White House, but there's little doubt which Republican scares them most - former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

"He was an absolute disaster on immigration as governor," said Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, a group that played a major role in rallying the phone calls that helped defeat this year's Senate immigration bill. "Every time there was any enforcement in his state, he took the side of the illegal aliens."
Mickey Kaus has  replied to the question of how is a candidate to appear new and unconventional in an age where everything is so sped up
Possible answer: Unless you have actual ideas and plans that a) upset the insiders and b) appeal to voters, you don't. Half-fake outsiders like Carter probably won't pull it off. ... 12:54 A.M.
I agree. And I don't think someone who has shown such little respect for religious tolerance or the truth and so little knowledge of the pressing issues of the day counts as more than a "half-fake outsider like Carter."

The Huckabee surge is not built on a strong foundation.

Disclosure: I am a Thompson supporter and have been from the moment he showed the courage of his convictions by standing up for Scooter Libby .

Clarice Feldman is an attorney in Washington, DC and a frequent contributor to American Thinker.
Mike Huckabee is this week's latest Republican buzz, but I think his house is, as the old calypso song goes, "a house built on a weak foundation," and "it will not stand oh, no."

I understand why his star has risen. I've said it before, the voters are sick of slickly packaged parsers, saying one thing to get the nomination in primaries and leaving dancing room for the general election. The CNN pretend "debate" gave him many opportunities to display his debate skills and obvious personal charm. But a close look at his record and character suggests that behind the façade there may lurk the wishy-washy thinking of another Southern governor, Jimmy Carter, covered by  the clever rhetorical skills of the other recent Southern governor, Bill Clinton, who also grew-up in Hope, Arkansas, the town of Huckabee's birth.

If it's a true straight talker you're looking for, go with Fred Thompson, who has all the charm of Huckabee and whose house is built on a bedrock foundation of federalism.

Let me explain. Right now we are in the middle of the most pressing foreign policy dilemmas and national security challenges. Not a single Republican candidate in the top tier is as lacking in experience on defense and foreign affairs that Huckabee. He mouths the right platitudes on the issues, but then tips his weak hand with offhand comments in which he concedes that Gitmo has been run properly but we should close it because it makes us look bad to foreigners. He has said we need to work "to restore relationships and rebuild the kind of positive attitudes people have historically had toward our own nation...."

These two statements reflect, I think, a startling naiveté about what has been happening over the past four years. I believe the uproar about Gitmo is part and parcel of the European myopia, not a failure of U.S. policy. Indeed, I've never seen one person who yelped about Gitmo offer any reasonable and practical alternative. Nor have I seen a persuasive legal argument against the segregation of irregular combatants offshore.

As to "restor[ing] relationships and rebuild[ing]...positive attitudes ," what planet has he been on? No reasonable and reasonably informed person could have missed that the persons most involved in whipping up anti-Americanism were Gerhard Schroeder, Jacques Chirac and  Jean Chrétien, all of whom were replaced by leaders far less corrupt and far more sympathetic to American positions than their predecessors.

Outside of Europe, in the Middle East, in particular, it is hard to imagine that any policy short of abject surrender to the forces of jihadism would make a dent. People who can be brought out in the streets by the thousands to protest the publication in Denmark of a Muhammad cartoon are not likely to respect or admire a country like ours, based on the best thoughts of Western civilization including free speech and freedom of religion, no matter what else we do.

These statements, to my mind, reflect that at heart Mr. Huckabee, likeable as he is, is a man too swayed by squishy sentiment and emotion to be determined wartime leader.

But beyond the Carteresque hints in his foreign policy -- hugging intractable enemies won't change their minds -- I see more troublesome signs of a Clintonesque quality in  him.

He has found a shrewd, if unappealing, way to disparage Romney's Mormonism without getting caught at it, by touting himself as "The Christian candidate for President."

As Charles Krauthammer has noted:
KRAUTHAMMER: But it implies for those that believe that Mormonism is a heresy, that here is the guy that you want. When Huckabee had been asked is this  heresy, he said I'm above that. It's not an issue that I ought to discuss, and I'm only running for the presidency.

He should have said whether or not he belongs to a Christian sect is irrelevant in this country. After all, Joe Lieberman is not a member of a Christian sect, and he's not disqualified from the presidency.

That's what he should have done, but he is using, subtly, the suspicions about the Mormonism as a way to advance his candidacy, and that's why I think he has jumped ahead in Iowa, while the others have not found a way to exploit the Mormonism. He has.
He has been utterly misleading, for example, on parts of his record, most notably immigration and taxes, and I find that almost as disturbing as his foundational weakness on defense and lack of knowledge on foreign affairs.

He has portrayed himself as a small government proponent and a tax cutter, but as Club for Growth argues, this is untrue,  citing nine separate tax hikes he supported or raised   .

"No doubt, Huckabee is an engaging speaker, but even the most gifted politician can't talk his way out of the laundry list of tax hikes Mike Huckabee is carrying around," said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. "Sooner or later, Mike Huckabee is going to have to answer for his liberal tax-and-spend record, and humorous one-liners and half-truths won't cut it. The American people deserve honest answers, not a stand-up routine."
To be fair, some of this was mandated by a state Supreme Court ruling requiring a sudden influx of funds for educational expenses, but why not be honest about that? And there are other statements that he made in the debate which also reflect a Clinton-like dancing about the truth.

At the CNN debate he said:
Huckabee: Anderson, the first thing that I would get rid of would be the Internal Revenue Service. We'd have a complete getting rid of a $10-billion-a-year industry. I'm not being facetious. If we enacted the Fair Tax, one of the most researched ways to revive our economic future. We will get rid of the IRS.
But that, of course, is grossly misleading and Fact Check caught him on that:

It is true that the Fair Tax would get rid of the agency that we now call the IRS. But, according to the bill Huckabee supports:

"There shall be in the Department of the Treasury a Sales Tax Bureau to administer the national sales tax in those States where it is required." So, Huckabee would "eliminate" the IRS by replacing it with a Sales Tax Bureau.

Furthermore, the new Sales Tax Bureau wouldn't necessarily be much smaller than the existing IRS. According to the bipartisan Advisory Panel on Tax Reform, which
studied the Fair Tax proposal extensively and rejected it:

"The federal administrative burden for a retail sales tax may be similar to the burden under the current system" in order to ensure that the various states collected the tax in a systematic way. The panel went on to point out that the Fair Tax, which includes a cash grant to each taxpayer to compensate for its regressive nature, would also  require an entirely new type of bureaucracy to "keep track of the personal information that would be necessary to determine the size of the taxpayer's cash grant."
He misled the audience as well on his views respecting immigration, most particularly his defense of a doomed proposal to provide state college scholarships for children of illegal immigrants. He said in the debate:
Huckabee: I supported a bill that would have allowed those children who had been in our schools their entire school life the opportunity to have the same scholarship that their peers had who had also gone to high school with them and sat in the same classrooms. They couldn't just move in their senior year and go to college. ... [It] said that if you'd sat in our schools from the time you're 5 or 6 years old and you had become an A-plus student, you completed the core curriculum, you were an exceptional student, and you also had to be drug and alcohol free, and the other provision, you had to be applying for citizenship.
But that grossly misstates the bill he supported.
Actually, the bill Huckabee pushed for in his 2005 State of the Union address did not apply only to "those children who had been in our schools their entire school life." It required only three years in an Arkansas high school to be eligible. And students did not have to be "applying for citizenship," but rather they had to sign an affidavit stating their intent to do so in the future. All students who apply for state scholarships must "certify that they are drug-free" and "pledge to refrain from alcohol" if they are under 21, just as Huckabee said. But they certainly don't have to be "an A-plus student." The state requires a solid "B" average (a 3.0 average on a 4.0 scale). And the state may reduce that to a 2.5 average if sticking with the higher requirement "would unduly reduce the number of low-income or disadvantaged students who would otherwise be eligible for the program." That's a C-plus average.

The bill passed the Arkansas House but
failed in the Senate. Later, a pared down version that would grant illegals in-state tuition breaks, but not scholarship rights, failed two votes short of passage.
And his present stance on immigration is far different than the one he has publicly taken when Congress was considering the issue.

Then he:
"Supported President Bush's immigration plan and claimed that opposition to Bush's proposal was driven by "racism or nativism" and that it wasn't amnesty. (Ralph Hallow, "Huckabee 'Serious' About Presidency," Washington Times, 5/17/06)
Compare and contrast his actions and statements with Thompson's views.

Thompson said on May 15, 2007  

No matter how much lipstick Washington tries to slap onto this legislative pig. It's not going to win any beauty contests. We should scrap this ‘comprehensive' immigration bill...until the government can show the American people that we have secured the borders.
By contrast here's what opponents of the immigration bill said of Huckabee:
Groups that support a crackdown on illegal aliens haven't settled on their champion in the race for the White House, but there's little doubt which Republican scares them most - former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

"He was an absolute disaster on immigration as governor," said Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, a group that played a major role in rallying the phone calls that helped defeat this year's Senate immigration bill. "Every time there was any enforcement in his state, he took the side of the illegal aliens."
Mickey Kaus has  replied to the question of how is a candidate to appear new and unconventional in an age where everything is so sped up
Possible answer: Unless you have actual ideas and plans that a) upset the insiders and b) appeal to voters, you don't. Half-fake outsiders like Carter probably won't pull it off. ... 12:54 A.M.
I agree. And I don't think someone who has shown such little respect for religious tolerance or the truth and so little knowledge of the pressing issues of the day counts as more than a "half-fake outsider like Carter."

The Huckabee surge is not built on a strong foundation.

Disclosure: I am a Thompson supporter and have been from the moment he showed the courage of his convictions by standing up for Scooter Libby .

Clarice Feldman is an attorney in Washington, DC and a frequent contributor to American Thinker.